If you read yesterday’s post, you undoubtedly noticed that I talked a lot about swimming. The irony of this is that I do not swim. In fact, I do not even know how to swim. I took an adult swimming class several years ago through the local Red Cross, and I was convinced before each evening’s lesson that that would be the night I met a watery demise. I eventually learned to float on my back, and that remains the extent of my swimming abilities to this day.

Swimming and staying afloat are great metaphors for life, however, especially life when depression is involved. The act of swimming involves work on the swimmer’s part, just as enduring life with depression involves work on the depressed person’s part. In both instances, a lack of effort will result in drowning, in one instance literal and the other figuratively.

This reminds me of the chorus of a Jars of Clay song, “Work.” I have no fear of drowning. It’s the breathing that’s taking all this work. It definitely requires less work to drown than to stay afloat. The danger for the depressed person lies in reaching the point where there really is no fear of going under. Slipping beneath the waves becomes preferable to working for survival, and even the act of drawing breath becomes a chore. This is the point where the real work begins, where the arms and legs have to begin kicking. Sink or swim, so speak.

Thankfully, I have not totally lost my fear of drowning yet, but I can say I have experienced many times when the work required to rise above the waters of depression seemed too much for me to bear. There were definite steps I had to take to ensure my survival, whether I was aware I was taking them or not. To use a non-swimming metaphor, someone lying on the floor has to exert energy to stand up. Depression is an anchor capable of dragging anyone down to the depths, and it must be actively resisted to be overcome.

While I would sink like a stone if someone put me in the middle of the ocean, I do have the ability to keep swimming against the tide of depression. Make no mistake, though; it is work. Are you ready to dive in?

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