Getting to the surface (the emergency phase)

When depression fully hits, it’s a lot like the sensation of drowning. You need respite like a drowning person needs air. Even when you’re lucky enough to break the surface and gulp some precious relief, you’re not able to keep your head above the ocean and quickly plunge back under. This is the time when you’re trying not to completely lose it. You’re battling breakdowns and maybe even suicidal thoughts. It’s the emergency phase.

You have to get to the surface and find air at all costs. Stress needs to be cut, vacation days used, and favors asked. In extreme situations, even jobs need to be walked away from. There is no shame in taking medication either. Getting to safety, where your health is no longer in peril, is priority number one. You probably won’t be able to feel it, but this phase won’t last. It will pass. This isn’t the end for you or what your future will look like.

Another difficulty is that you might realize that you can’t make it to the surface on your own, and this can be a paralyzing feeling. The trick is to recognize all the hands reaching towards you through the water... a loved one willing to let you live with them, a friend that will take you to counseling, a counselor that will help address your needs. Some hands are easy to see. They’re already asking you to let them help. Others will appear when you reach out. Grab hold of these hands and let them pull you to the surface. They may not be able to cure you, but they can help you to breathe and get you out of the emergency phase.  

Healing Phase →