Drabble · Life · mental health

Drowning

I’m drowning.

I’m constantly sinking under the incoming waves. The panicked thrumming in my chest is matched by the shaking of my hands as I try to keep myself afloat. I didn’t want to go swimming but somehow here I am, sinking in an ocean of adrenaline and distress.

I’m not a poet, and I’ll probably never be one, but how else can I explain the heavy weight on my chest, the fear, and the sense of being completely adrift? I’m isolated by my own biochemistry and even if there is someone reaching to me from a life raft, I can’t see them for the water in my eyes.

Every time I drag myself up from the depths of the darkness, I’m only more exhausted, weight down by the seaweed and debris I found at the bottom. It’s not a relief anymore to reach the surface. The air burns my scarred lungs. The blue sky is just a reminder of the work it will take to stay above.

Little white pills like water wings go down daily. But water wings in the ocean only help so much. So you try and build a raft; you try and organize your life to keep too busy to notice the water seeping into your lungs. You try to stop planning in advance to avoid the inevitable failures, but that only tires you more. You try to meditate the ocean away, a drop of a time, to drink it down and accept it. But it is just too much. Always too much until your belly swells and your body collapses.

Being lost at sea isn’t something you can FIX. You can only manage it, float half submerged in it. You can only survive it.

It makes take a deep breath of salt water seed so appealing. The air already feels thick in your lungs, how much worse could the water feel for the few fleeting moments of consciousness?

At least that would be effective.

Others try and help, but most of them are drowning too. You can gaze across the horizon and call to one another, but no one can navigate your ocean but you. Where they have an island, you might have a kraken.

But sometimes, sometimes I get up and above for long enough to feel the sunshine, and to remember what it’s like to actual live with ground firm beneath my feet. I stay above long enough to hear the encouragement from the people in their own oceans, to feel the hands reaching down to try and help me up.

Sometimes I laugh with my husband and mean it. Sometimes I play piano and feel it. Sometimes I write something and actually post it.

Sometimes it feels a little less like drowning.

Sometimes I’m strong enough to swim.


I wrote half of this while half asleep a few days ago in the depths of an extended anxiety attack. The last year’s been rough, but I’ll keep trudging through. Sometimes it’s just nice to get it out in words. (In other words, don’t panic, I’m okay.)

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