One of my favorite childhood movies was "The Neverending Story." When I was really little, I used to look around and wonder how everything was real. I questioned everything. I kind of felt like I was in the middle of a story that someone else was watching and/or telling, and nothing was really as real as we were led to believe. My imagination went Matrix/Inception-level deep back then (and I don't always think it's completely lost at times). Anyway, I really enjoyed the movie not only for what it was - a cult favorite of most 80's kids - but how alike Bastian I was. I loved the idea of a book whose story never really was over - it grew and unfolded with every turn of the page.
One of the main scenes that always stuck with me as a child was when Atreyu and Artax are traveling in their quest, and come upon the Swamps of Sadness. Atreyu is protected by the Auryn (the medallion that protects him from all harm), but his horse is not protected and succumbs, slowly. That scene always devastated me, and I always wished for a different outcome.
As an adult, I excitedly first shared the movie with my son when he was about 4 or 5. He loved it, and would urge me not to watch the above scene, as it still makes me sad. As an adult, the heaviness of the metaphor that was lost on me as a child makes me that much more sad. Life isn't always easy, and if you just let the sadness take over, you will lose. It's morbid...but true.
But sometimes, it feels so hard to fight...especially when you don't know what is wrong. It's so tiring.
Do you ever wonder what triggers certain memories? I looked up at the sky tonight and I was seventeen again, remembering a night spent hanging out with my then-boyfriend. There was nothing extraordinary about that night, and I have no idea why it came to mind, but what struck me was the innocence and the happiness of those moments. It wasn't about him; it was me. Where did I go?
There is a lot of talk about anxiety and depression nowadays, and while the stigma seems to be getting better, it's still there. To some, even suggesting it means there is something wrong with you, or that you're weak. I am not a person that cares heavily about the opinions of others, but it's still a difficult thing to consider. It's uncomfortable for others when you don't pretend.
Someone I once loved described an ex who had struggled (obviously not knowing I did as well), and he wrinkled his nose distastefully and made it clear that he just didn't understand. He said he loved her so much at the time they were together, but then in the next breath called her crazy. I remember my stomach twisted and I never wanted him to judge me or think badly of me, however, I have since come to realize that people like that are actually the problem. I can't be ashamed of being sad.
For all intents and purposes, you wouldn't know anything is wrong. I have great friends and family, and don't want for anything; I feel ridiculous and selfish to say I'm not happy. I have so much. But then, it hits me and it feels impossible to do even the most simple things.
I recently read that one of my favorite writers, who is by leaps and bounds extremely successful, has struggled with depression as well. It really doesn't discriminate. Likewise, this is not a new development, as I've been dealing with this for years. I'm not going to pull an Artax, but the swamp is sure tugging as of late. I hope anyone who reads this feels a little less alone and a little more understood. Don't let the swamp win.