Mental health / Mental Health & Wellbeing

Fighting Depression Is Like The Tortoise And The Hare

“We all have times when we go home at night and pull out our hair and feel misunderstood and lonely and like we’re falling. I think the brain is such that there is always going to be something missing.” ~ Jude Law

Fighting depression is like the tortoise and the hare, where you’re the tortoise and all those other ‘normal’ people are the hares.

Except that the hares are going to beat you.

Over and over again.

So just forget about the hares. Concentrate on your own journey.

Battling depression can often leave you feeling as though you’re adrift in the middle of a choppy sea with nothing to see but crashing waves in every direction. From this vantage point it can be very difficult to have any meaningful perspective on how far you’ve come or how far you have yet to go in terms of your recovery because you’re, understandably, focussing primarily on your current battle to keep your head above water.

You don’t have any landmarks to show you the amount of progress that you’ve made, progress that you’d be really proud of if you were only able to recognise it, because there are no landmarks in the middle of the sea. The sea’s very unhelpful that way.

But if you were to dig into your reserves of energy to think about it for just a few minutes you’d probably be able to recognise that you’ve actually come a long way since the last time you thought about it, when you’d probably made progress on the time before that. It’s just this damn sea and its unhelpful lack of perspective which is demoralising you into forgetting how well you’re doing and how much progress you’re making.

The thing is you’re used to thinking of illness and recovery in terms of physical health problems like the flu, or a chest infection, or a broken leg. Where you get x, you take y, and in z amount of time everything’s back to normal again.

Tackling mental illness doesn’t work like that.

Like the tortoise you aren’t going to get anywhere quickly. You aren’t going to get better in the next hour, or by tomorrow morning, or by the middle of next week, possibly not even by next year.

But you have to keep slowly plodding forward like the tortoise in the belief that eventually you will make it to where you are headed, back on to dry land.

Not because I can promise you that eventually you will get there.

I can’t do that. I haven’t managed to make it to within sight of the shoreline myself yet.

But because the alternative is that you will stay where you are and then eventually you will drown. And that isn’t an option that I’m willing to accept for either of us.

So as a wise little fishy once told us, we’re both going to just keep swimming, okay?

 

*I didn’t have any pictures of tortoises or hares, sorry.
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