I was bobbing along in the ocean, admiring the shimmer of the sea, enjoying the gentle inertia and consistent calming current of the tide when a dark foaming wave disturbed my peace. It tore me from my calm focus and before I had the chance to regain my composure I was staring at a vast abyss, a tidal wave ready to drag me under.
Underneath the surface it is dark, impossible to see in any direction with no clues which way is up. Somewhere in the oppressive darkness I realise I am lost. I will drown. I may have been able to prevent this but I no longer know when I felt the first ripple in the ocean, the first telltale lick of salt water that may have prompted me to ask for some sort of lifesaver.
Now that I have sunk so deep I am left with only two options; close my eyes and give in, allow myself to be swallowed by the darkness. Or fight. Kick my legs and claw my way back to the surface.
The choice may seem obvious to some, to others there is only one option, but when you have gone so far down all decisions are murky. Sure I could fight my way to the surface of the water, using every ounce of energy and will just to get to the top. Take that lifesaving breath. But then what? I still have to tread-water just to keep breathing and when I look around the surface is not how it was before, it no longer has a shimmer, there is no calm. The white tips of waves in the making are cresting and subsiding all around me. Not to mention that no one has seen me go under so no one knows I need help.
Option two has bought me to the surface of a still rugged ocean, with no land, person, or life reserve in sight. No indication that the tidal wave that took me down in the first place won’t return. No evidence that this time the swim to shore will be quicker and easier. Not even one inkling that the people I love, and left standing on the beach believing that I was safe and well, will still be there to reach out and drag me to dry, even land, wrap me in a towel and tell me that they were always right there.
If you look at it from this perspective maybe you can understand my hesitation. The temptation to let go is so strong at times. Fighting it is like swimming against the current.
On the other hand… I fucking hate treading-water.
I hate the feeling that I am about to go under. As familiar as it is.
So I swam. Not with strength and confidence but with weariness and skepticism.
The reason for my skepticism comes from a history of going under. Wallowing in darkness.
The weariness comes from the long swim to shore. A journey that was made not that long ago.
So, if you’re still with me you may be wondering what this all has to do with the blogs title “The Elephant in the Room”. Well, nothing specifically except that this is what I want people to do. Talk bout the Elephant in the Room, you could save someone from drowning.
If you have read either of my blogs in the past then you know that I have high expectations for 2018. I want to fight the stigma that surrounds mental illness, get people talking and supporting each other without judgement. As it turns out, life had other plans, so far 2018 has not been all smooth sailing.
If you have not read any of my blogs yet…ignore the above and assume that I have soldiered forward with focus, momentum and strength. 😉
So, yep, a few waves in the ocean and blows to the resolve. But that is why I am writing this, because I have experienced the darkness and the depth, I have not spoken up or reached out when I needed to. I feel so very passionately about the struggle, that I do not want people to ache as I have and do, or to question their every little thought or become their own biggest enemy. Can we please listen without judgment and criticism. Offer the safety and warmth, the human connection of a hug or a pat on the back.
In 2 sleeps I will participate in my first trail running event of the year, Jabulani. I am running to do something life affirming, to provide my darkest self with solid undeniable evidence that I can remain positive, I can choose life, even if it’s only for a couple of hours. I want to use my events as a platform (may seem crazy but tonnes of people run, take photo’s of and talk about running) so even if running isn’t your jam please remember the underlying message.
Speak freely. Listen without judgement.
I will be changing my Insta Handle (I think that is what the young folk call it) to @Da.Elephant.In.Da.Room. So, if you see my photo’s, posts and blogs, consider them, share them.
And if you are the Elephant in the Room, don’t keep quite about it. You have a trunk, use it.