June 5, 2011

Another Way of Drowning in your own body


"Leonard Lloyd, of Oakley, is a retired marriage and family psychotherapist and former probation officer who said he is familiar with being helpless in the presence of human tragedy.

"The emphasis on inaction by potential rescuers is misplaced," he said. "Every indication is that this man was determined to end his life just as he did. It is tragic that he had come to the point that he no longer wanted to be alive. People close to him tried to talk him out of it, made extra efforts to get him to return safely home, to no avail.

"But the tragedy is not that rescuers did not stop him, but that all previous efforts, such as mental health care at (a local psychiatric hospital) and presumed aftercare were not sufficient to lift his chronic depression.'' "
The emphasis of this story has been the inaction of the firefighters, as well as the crowd of 70 onlookers to a lesser extent.
The real story is not that 70 people and professional life savers failed to help, but as the comment above states, "the tragedy is ....presumed aftercare (was) not sufficient to life his chronic depression."
Chronic depression is a form of drowning in your own body. (One of the highest google searches for this blog is the post I wrote in regards to my father's death from congestive heart failure Like Drowning in Your Own Body)
As anxiety increases to unmanageable levels, we feel a sensation of panic similar to drowning. 
Unfortunately, I can speak of both of these experiences on a personal level.     
Once as a teenager, the morning after a night of drinking, my buddies and I decided to swim across a lake for a lark.
All very well, until I reached the midway point and realized I was exhausted.  I started to sink.  When people speak of a "sinking feeling", I know that feeling.   There is not much like it.  I saw my buddies well ahead of me.  
All around me, water.   Below me, more water.   
Were there boaters out on the lake that could help?  No.  I knew in the split second (minutes) that I had a choice.  To live or not to live.  To be or not to be.  
I wanted to live.  I found the where-with-all to make it to the other side.  And when I got there, I was almost blue.  
I said to my buddies, let's walk back.  
Walk back?  There is nothing but mountains, trees, and bears for miles.  That is not an option. You have to swim back.
And I did, because I am here today.
Flash forward to 2007.  My well documented heart attack.  Once again, near death.  Once again, deals made with God to let me keep on living.   
I said," if you want to take me, take me.  But if you have something more for me to do in this life, please let me live."
And I did, because I am here today. 
5 months after my heart attack, depression overwhelmed me.   Depression was not a stranger, but this time it was different.
This time it was serious, and life threatening.   When you feel that sinking feeling to the point that you cannot even make the decision to sink or swim, to want to swim, to want to go on.....well, that is what depression is.
It is not feeling sad.  It is not having the blues.  
It is overriding panic, anxiety, indecision, and most of all, the feeling that you are not in control of your own body.  Not in control of your own mind.  Not in control.
Another way of drowning in your own body.  
In the words of Samuel Beckett, "I can't go on. I'll go on."

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