All At Sea

I am caught deep in the ocean’s relentless waves. Again and again I’m swallowed and I land, my bones heavy as boulders, on the sea bed. The murky water stings my eyes and I panic, kicking my legs desperately, as my heart pounds and my lungs feel fit to burst behind my ribs.  Then I’m spat out, gasping as I emerge through the water’s surface, my nose and eyes streaming. I spot the shore far away. I know I’ll be returned to it eventually, and in this moment I can breathe. I slowly feel calmer. I know I have the strength in my legs to keep treading water. But I also know that before I can feel the dry, solid earth beneath my feet, the next wave is coming only too quickly to pull me down.  The ocean breathes me in again just as I’ve begun to catch my own breath. Just as I’ve spotted the seabirds wheeling and calling far above my head. Just as I’ve had to close my eyes against the startling brightness of the morning sun on the sea. I’m painfully aware that I don’t know how many surges of the ocean I must endure before I am returned to the shore. I am exhausted, afraid and frustrated, but I’m also ashamed of my feelings. I know I’m far stronger and far closer to land than many, many others.  Once again, down I go. But this time as I sink, a hand reaches out to me through the darkness. This person is sinking too, but we are sinking together. I feel the power of the connection, our fingers locked fast. I feel my strength beginning to awaken even as I drift down, down, and struggle not to swallow the water.  I realise what I want to do. I realise what I must do. I reach out my other hand. I stretch out as far as I can. I’m about to decide we must be the only two people but then finally, just as I hit the sea bed, I find another person. I grab their hand.  The three of us raise our heads. The next wave shoots us upwards, and this time after I burst through the surface, I gaze at the faces either side of me. They are confused, they are lost, they have no control. But they smile at me. Then we spot another group of people. And another. And another. Now there are groups of people bursting up through the waves all around us. They splash and wave and yell, and they lead our eyes all the way up to the shore.  The ocean around me is stiller for a moment. The burn in my eyes eases off a little, and I can make out the deep blue-green colour of the water. The sun warms my face as the first person says to me and our companion; “We will get back home eventually.” 


By Emma Fielder


#anxiety #community #resilience

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