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  • Writer's pictureMonica Montanari

My Worst Nightmare

It's night.

I'm submerged in deep, black water. My arms and legs weigh me down, exhausted from treading the tide endlessly. It seems like it's been a lifetime- but it actually has. And any one of these days, I could just slip underneath. I could easily just drown. I could just give in to the exhaustion. I could let go. And I could fade into the depths- where countless other bodies are buried under the crushing weight of the water.

There's others around me. I can't see them- but I know they're there. Sometimes I can hear them struggling too- but it's usually only confirmed when- every once in a while- I hear one of them take their last breath. They suck in the last air that will ever touch their lungs, and slip under the waves, into a place that they can finally find peace. A place they can rest.

It's so hard to keep swimming. To keep pushing on and on, with no end in sight. I keep my arms and legs moving- even when I can't feel them any more. I can't see the shore- and there are no lights on the horizon. There's no end in sight to the struggle, and it becomes hard to breathe. I pant. I try desperately to spit out the water that tries to force its way into my lungs. I feel the pressure of the water on my lungs- just waiting for me to give up. All of a sudden, when I think I can relax, another wave washes over me- and the struggle begins anew. I reorient myself. I fight my way up. I break the surface. I cough out the water in my throat. I move my limbs fiercely in my fight to survive.

I look up. I can see the stars, I see the moon, I know God is there. I know He can see me, and He's trying to calm the water- to free me from this abyss- but every time he gets close, another wave breaks. I start all over again.

"Wake up. Wake up." I tell myself. "It's just a nightmare."

Maybe you can wake up. I want to be able to, too. And I keep trying and trying and trying. I rub my eyes. I pinch myself. But I cant wake up. Because it's not just a nightmare. It's my life. It's every. single. day. And it's what life looks like for everyone who deals with depression on a regular basis.

You can be my wave- or you can be my boat. You can sweep over me in your quest to fulfill your destiny. You can disregard the state I'm in: how tired I am. How hard I'm struggling to keep my lungs filled with air. You can ignore it, because you can't see it. You can treat me just the same as you'd treat anyone else. You can hurt me just like you would any other girl, and expect it not to matter. You can expect that I'll just shake it off- like a normal person. But I'm not. At the end of the day, they get out of the waves. They run back to their family and friends on the beach, with only the lessons they've learned. But that's not me. I'm here. Far away from the normal people. I've been doing this for a long time- so I can't take the waves as easily as they can. I can't just shake them off and put my toes back on the sand. I'm here. I've been here. And that wave could be the difference between life and death. You can be that wave.

Or, you can be my boat. You might not be able to pull me out of the water. But maybe- just maybe- you can hold on to my hand for a little while. Maybe you can stay with me a while before you have to leave. Just keep me company; let me know you can see me. Maybe I can even hold on to the side of your boat- if only to catch my breath for an instant. Maybe you can even lend me a lifesaver. So that even though I remain in the depths of despair, I can finally breathe.

It's not just me.

You don't know how deep the waves are that someone has been in lately. You can save their life, or you can end it, with something as simple as a sentence. Your actions and your words have a far greater meaning than you know.

What have you said today.

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