My mental health challenges have been like suddenly falling into the angry, raging rapids of a fast moving river at night in 20 degree weather while wearing a snowsuit, boots, and bottom layer long johns.
Almost impossible to survive.
I hear a lot of messages about accepting your shortcomings as they are. Loving yourself unconditionally. Suggestions not to tell the depressed patient to fight like hell.
If you fall into the angry, raging rapids of a fast moving river at night in 20 degree weather while wearing a snowsuit, boots, and bottom layer long johns, what will you do?
- Fight like hell to survive!
- Give up, sink and drown to death?
I chose to first kick like hell to reach the surface for that first life saving breath. I stripped off the big, puffy, waterlogged coat. I worked to remove one heavy boot. Then the other.
I searched in the dark to find anything that resembled land. I swam. One stroke at a time in that direction.
I went back under.
I kicked and fought my way back to the air at the surface.
My teeth chattered.
My lips turned blue.
I went back under.
I felt the bottom.
The river was less deep. Just a little farther and I’ll be able to stand.
keep going. I heard a tiny, faint whisper…..
keep going? It questioned. I could barely hear it.
I kept going.
I crawled to the riverbank. I shivered uncontrollably. I was soaked. It was pitch black.
I was alive. I wasn’t safe.
I had to get warm to stay alive.
Must make fire. Must find dry wood. Build fire. Work rubbing sticks together to create friction, heat, and ignition. Fight bleeding, cold hands and splinters. Fail repeatedly.
The fire finally lights!
I got dry. I got warmer. I slept.
I woke up thirsty and hungry. Weak. Tired and bruised.
The river water tasted cold and refreshing as I drank from my freezing hands.
It is morning. There is light. I can fish or hunt for food, a squirrel maybe?
I kill. I eat. I gain some strength and mental abilities. Brain power.
Where would help be? I walk downstream knowing the nearest town was 30 miles in that direction when I fell in. Did I drift more than 30 miles after falling in?
I take the next step forward in faith on my journey to find home.
When you fall into the angry, raging rapids of a fast moving river at night in 20 degree weather while wearing a snowsuit, boots, and bottom layer long johns, will you wait to be rescued?
Will you fight like hell, one battle at a time to survive the war?
Take the next best step. Sometimes that is to lay down and sleep for 3 days. Sometimes it is to eat half of a pepperoni pizza.
Don’t judge yourself for what that next best step is. Realize though, your life depends on what you do next.
Sometimes, in the case of suicidal thoughts especially, that next urgent step is to get immediate professional help.
Suicidal? Need Help?
Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the U.S. at:
Crisis workers are available 24 hours a day. Calls are free and confidential.
Other countries & regions: To find a crisis center in your area, go to:
Looking for more Mental Health Resources?
NAMI is my favorite source. I follow them on Facebook for daily tips, useful articles, and the latest information on surviving and thriving despite my mental health challenges. They also have a 24 hour free helpline and free crisis counseling! nami.org