Treading Water

Have you heard of the Stanford Duck Syndrome? It is the idea that people seem cool and collected on the surface, but are paddling furiously underneath to stay afloat. That is what living with anxiety and depression is like. Even when I am doing well, I am treading water. The darkness stalks me. I feel like I have to work extra hard to not sink and drown. Maybe it is because I am still in recovery and was in a hospital program only a few months ago, but it feels like all it would take is pulling lightly at a thread to switch me over to full-blown, debilitating depression. Fleeting thoughts of self-harm or suicide are common when I am overwhelmed. Fortunately, these days I do not intend to act upon them.

It is exhausting and frustrating to work so hard to stay afloat. It does not feel fair. I wonder what “normal” people feel. I know everyone has ups and downs, but is it this much of a struggle? Do people commonly think of suicide? Do people feel like they cannot fully shake the darkness?