Although I don’t remember a great deal about it as a whole, there is a scene in the 2000 motion picture The Perfect Storm that has always stuck in my mind. It happens near the end of the film, once the fishing boat Andrea Gail has sunk to the bottom of the sea. George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg’s characters are about to exit the boat and swim to the surface when suddenly Clooney gazes upward with a mournful expression. He then opts to go back inside the boat, vanishing into the darkness and giving up the fight for survival.

It’s a remarkably sad and poignant scene. I suppose in a way it is supposed to capture the essence of a captain going down with his ship, but I took something different away from it. I saw it as a sad and heartbreaking instance in which a man realizes everything is stacked against him, and rather than continuing to fight in the face of certain doom, he chooses to simply give up.

There are many days when depression appears to me as the rolling waves, gusty winds, and driving rain must have appeared to those poor fishermen trapped at the bottom of the ocean. There does not seem to be any chance of survival. Rather than try to swim my way to the surface, it would be so much easier just to let the waters enclose around me and give up.

For some reason, though, I keep swimming. And, unlike Wahlberg’s character who is eventually claimed by the ferocious sea, I keep surviving somehow. I do not say this to pat myself on the back or imply that I am worthy of some type of accolade. I say it to remind myself that no matter how threatening the storm may look, I have survived it before. No matter how the waves have tossed me about, I still managed to find dry land. And no matter how much I wanted to give up, I didn’t.

Coming back here to write again was difficult. I have faced stress, anxiety, and depression on a level recently that I have never experienced before, and more than once I have felt the urge to let it roll over me. I was afraid to write again because what I had to say was too raw, too painful, even too alarming. Yet here I am again, still swimming. Every day recently has felt as if I am starting my ascension to the surface from the very bottom of the sea, but I am still here. The storm has not claimed me yet.

I wish I could tell you with all certainty that I will never succumb to depression. I wish I could make bold proclamations about how I will never surrender and how I will fight until the very end. I wish I could speak of this mental condition as a thing of the past and not the present. I am unable, however, to do any of these things. What I can do is stand before you as someone who has braved the waters before and lived to tell about it. I can only hope this is an encouragement to other sailors lost at sea. The choice is ours – keep swimming or make our peace with the storm.

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