What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a well? Water? That is it a source of clean, fresh water that can be life-saving to many people and communities around the world? That it is old fashioned? Or maybe, since it is not something that is used much anymore in our culture, you don’t think about it at all.
I do think about a well often, but unfortunately not in a positive way. I have often used the image of a well, particularly the bottom of the well, as a way to describe my depression.
When I think of the bottom of a well, the images that come to mind are a dark, damp, confined space. A well can be quite dangerous because depending of the depth of the water in it, a person could drown in a well. It can be a place of gasping for breath, struggling to stay above water, struggling to stay alive.
The bottom of a well would also be unbelievably lonely. A small space, deep down in the earth, where someone could be without anyone knowing. There is no way out, and no one to hear your cries.
Depression is like this. It’s dark, scary, and confining. And you are constantly fighting for your life, gasping for breath, feeling as though you are drowning.
And it is incredibly lonely. It’s an unimaginable loneliness because your brain tricks you into thinking that no one cares about you, and more importantly, that no one can understand what you are going through. The isolation that depression forces on you is suffocating.
And that is why anyone who deals with depression must fight against the isolation and the loneliness.
It’s the main reason I started this blog a year and a half ago. I wanted to help others who struggle as I have, (and continue to) with depression feel less alone. I wanted others to know that someone out there gets it, that I understand.
And I also wanted to help others find ways in fighting that loneliness.
When you’re depressed, your instinct is to isolate, but it is the worst thing you can do. I know this because doctors and counsellors have told me. I also know this from experience.
So, when I feel my depression coming, or when I am in the middle of a dark time, I fight my own instinct and find ways to feel less alone.
I text a friend and ask for prayer.
I meet someone for coffee or dinner.
I participate in something social even when it is the last thing I want to do.
I make an appointment with my counsellor.
I call someone I can trust if I feel up to talking.
I spend more time at work where I am surrounded by people.
I write on this blog.
All of these things help me climb the walls of that well. All of these things make me feel less alone. And suddenly things start to get better.
I always allow myself to feel or do what I need to do. If I feel like crying, I let myself cry. If I need sleep, I let myself sleep. If I want junk food, I eat junk food.
But the one thing I don’t allow for myself in times of depression is isolation. It may be what I want in the moment, but I know it is not what I need.
I know I cannot climb out of that well alone.
And I encourage anyone who may be reading this who is feeling like they are drowning at the bottom of well to do the same. Don’t go into isolation. Call someone, text someone, go outside, write in a journal, or get out of the house, no matter how much you don’t want to.
If you do, things will get a little better, and you’ll find a way to start climbing out of that well.
And take moment to look up. Chances are there is a hand reaching down to help you climb.