Waving, not drowning

Selfie @TheShardLondon : Nikon D3s

Selfie @TheShardLondon : Nikon D3s

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” 

(Brené Brown)

The friendly face asked, “What if you could learn to appreciate the waves of depression? I wonder what they might tell you?”

But they seem to come out of nowhere. As I watch low light graze the road on a golden morning. Rustling though autumn leaves during an afternoon walk. When I get hungry. Sitting by the fire. Waking in the middle of the night. Driving my car. Waves of depression flooding through me.

“How is that for you?” He asked.

Well I don’t like it. It’s frustrating. It slows me down.  I know it took me more than ten years to accelerate myself into burnout and I can understand that it might take just as long to fully recover. But I will do this... I’m doing all the right things...

“Yes, we can succeed. We can be the best, the fittest, the fastest, the most creative, the smartest, the most resilient. Anyone can do this. There are whole industries depending on us, telling us we can do it. We’re worth it. And we should be happy.  All the time.”

 Right… I hear you…

“So, really, how are you managing?”

Actually it’s OK; I’m learning. The waves come and I know they will go again. I’m making a lot of sunrise photographs and that’s telling me something. The sun comes up everyday and I know I can depend on it even if clouds hang around for a while. 

And the shifts seem to be taking me back to someone I already know. It feels like I keep returning to familiar territory. I recognise myself in this place.

There have been some fabulous distractions over the years that dragged me away: military aviation, consulting, academia and permutations of all three. And I would be chasing, trying to get a good appraisal, gain a qualification, hit a KPI, a metric, always trying to be somewhere else, someone else…

But I realise that I keep coming back to imagery; photography and moving images that connect us, help express our identity and let us see who we really are. It’s what I care about.

Arnold Beisser says, ‘Change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not.’ 

So, maybe I can pause to understand who I really am rather than try to fix myself in an attempt to be someone else. Maybe I can know that I will trip and fall, that I won’t always be successful, that I will fail and that it’s OK.  Maybe I can be curious about the person that I am rather than the person that I am supposed to be?

“Could you have compassion for yourself in those waves of depression?” 

"And then, might you allow yourself to be seen?”


I’m a fan of Brené Brown’s good homegrown common sense (all underpinned by a ton of research btw) and my quote is from ‘The Gifts of Imperfection.

Arnold Beisser’s ‘Paradoxical Theory of Change’ is deceptively simple and an enduring challenge. He suffered from polio and wrote ‘Flying without Wings’ ~ an excellent, inspirational book for anyone living with impairment.

Steve MarshallComment