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by Zettel 

Posted: 17 October 2004
Word Count: 127

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Life was going swimmingly
when an sudden current surged,
and swept me out to sea.
I watched the land
and all so dear to me,
recede into the distance
as I struggled
just to be.

Against a dark unfathomed sea
I thrashed about and battled
but couldnít struggle free.
Exhausted, I just floated
and let the force take me.
Terrified, I waited patiently
'til deathís sweet call abated
then not against but across the tide
I struck out to be free.

Finding calmer water
restored my self-belief
I headed for the land
from self-indulgent grief.
As I reached the shore my loved ones
hugged and kissed and held me close
every single day.
I'm not sure it really struck them
How far I'd been away.


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Comments by other Members

joanie at 16:23 on 17 October 2004  Report this post
Zettel, I enjoyed this; I like the rhythm and the form of it and the theme of the sea running throughout. It's like being swept along on the tide, buffeted by the waves, etc. etc. The idea of land receding out of reach is a frightening one, but coming home to shore is lovely.

I'm glad it's a happy ending, but the last two lines are very poignant and, no doubt, true of many situations. It sounds like it was a true experience.

Good one.


poemsgalore at 17:03 on 17 October 2004  Report this post
Yes, the power of the sea is a good way to explain the powerful forces of depression. The relief on 'finding calmer water' is immense.

Zettel at 21:47 on 17 October 2004  Report this post
Joanie and Poemsgal

Thanks for the commments. Despite distinct patterns of felling and behaviour, D is I think as diverse and individually unique as it sufferers are.

There is a clue which is nearest I would ever try as advice, within the poem.

Thanks for the appreciation and the comments



Chem at 22:07 on 17 October 2004  Report this post

A powerful and well thought out poem. I like the theme of sea which you have weaved throughout the poem to symbolise the different stages of depression. Your use of imagery is wide and thought provoking. I do very much like the way you have finished the poem and did feel a sense of relief. But you are so very right when you say:

'I'm not sure it really struck them
How far I'd been away'

This is so true.

I used the sea in a poem of mine called 'Why' about depression in another light which, unfortunately, didn't end so well. I am glad you found calmer waters in your poem.


Zettel at 00:40 on 18 October 2004  Report this post


Thing about the sea, rough or calm, beautiful or terrifying (or both at once)
it abides.........



Ticonderoga at 13:33 on 18 October 2004  Report this post
Z - a very fine piece, indeed; the imagery is consistently and powerfully used. I agree that depression varies markedly from individual to individual, but, I personally missed a hint of the Descent Into The Maelstrom......................But that's just how my experience would have led me with your imagery. Great stuff.


Zettel at 18:23 on 18 October 2004  Report this post
Thanks Mike

Paradox: while caught up in the maelstrom (what a great word!)One couldn't write anything coherent - to say the least - but when drifting in more placid waters the maelstrom seems slightly unreal. I guess these mixed feelings just go with the territory eh? THe sea still seems a remarkably powerful metaphor for life as far better writer than I am have demonstrated.



Fearless at 19:41 on 18 October 2004  Report this post
D, whether depression or despair, can turn from whisper to a scream. The flow, rhythm and imagery, spot on.

Write on Zettel,


James Graham at 21:18 on 18 October 2004  Report this post
The clue you mentioned, the nearest to advice that you'd offer - is it to swim 'not against but across the tide'? Even if that isn't the clue you meant, it still strikes me as wise. I like your ending too - nobody else, however close, can know how far away we've been.


Zettel at 23:13 on 18 October 2004  Report this post

On the button as usual. It took a long, painful time to learn that there is a time to withstand and a time to act with D. If you act too soon then all you do is exhaust yourself. One must hit bottom and wait one's moment when even the tiniest of efforts (and that is all one ever has) makes a difference. But the action may have to be indirect. Hence the metaphor. It recalls a remark of Simone Weil's in a different context - her example sailing a boat into the wind:

"If you would command nature, first you must obey her"

Just so.

Thanks as ever for the comments


Zettel at 02:11 on 19 October 2004  Report this post

Thanks for the comments. Glad it struck a chord.



fireweed at 12:51 on 20 October 2004  Report this post
Zettel, this is a moving depiction of D. Reading your replies to other comments, you seemed to have arrived at a point of understanding which must be a strength against future onslaughts. I thought of Stevie Smith's Not Waving But Drowning - the person in this poem had always been much further out than any one knew. She was also writing from experience and chose sea images as you did - a fruitful means of presenting a chaotic and sometimes unmanageable experience.

A really good poem.


Zettel at 23:50 on 20 October 2004  Report this post

Thanks. There are so many people in our fractured society suffering from this almost invisible problem that if one can strike an echo it at least says....me too!
I am reminded by a remark by Aldous Huxley about people in general (always to be treated carefully as people in general ar made up of loads of individual people) that we become:

normal in relation to a profoundly abnormal society

we are becoming separated from the people around us and the natural world we inhabit. It is not surprising, indeed even healthy in an odd way, that part of us rebels. Depression as rebellion - now there's a philosophical issue worth examining.



James Graham at 20:09 on 22 October 2004  Report this post
The discussion around your poem is becoming very interesting. Depression as revolt - I think it can be looked at that way. To extend it further, you can ask to what extent any mental illness, or even social disorders like drug addiction and youth violence, are what the French academic Daniel Bensaid calls 'revolt without purpose'. If we call them that, we're asking how far these disorders are due to individual (or family) dysfunction and how far they are due to a dysfunctional society - one that not only functions badly for people in 'sink' estates but causes sometimes serious psychological problems for those who are in the overworking, overspending social class. So illnesses and anti-social behaviour can be seen as reactions, a kind of revolt, against life conditions that people find in the society around them.

In these notions I'm much influenced by Frantz Fanon's book The Wretched of the Earth. He's writing about a much more dysfunctional society than ours - Algeria under French colonial rule - but the difference is only one of degree, I think. Fanon sees a whole range of mental, physical and psychosomatic illnesses as being caused by a bad society, or at the very least a bad society being one of the major causes. Disorders including depression and phobias, but also such things as stomach ulcers or muscular tension and pain. Even in our somewhat more benign society, I think we have to take society into account as a cause of illness.

But the logic of that is, whatever the causes of disease we try to get at them and eliminate them as far as possible: identify viruses and kill them, cut down pollution, etc. The pathogenic elements in society are a lot less simple than that, either to identify or to deal with. This is maybe straying a bit from your poem - but the poem (with the help of Huxley!) started me off.


WARD83 at 20:50 on 23 October 2004  Report this post
Really enjoyed this. Especially the uplifting ending (sorry if that sounds mawkish).

For some reason, I've always associated the sea with depression (probably because I used to live in Scarborough!). It's a lovely metaphor.

Although in retrospect my depression has been of the 'average' hormonal variety, I have felt very low at times. This chronicled the different periods perfectly (swept away, waiting to reach 'rock bottom', swimming across, restored self-belief, reaching loved ones.)

This is the first poem Iíve ever read (I was never the most academic in school). I'll be sure to read more.

Lottie at 21:18 on 25 October 2004  Report this post
There is not a lot that I can add that other people have already said.

I enjoyed this piece, it was easy to read and flowed well..

Such a common thing is depression in today's hectic and materilistic society..Personally, I think those who have suffered depression are the one's who can truly go on to achieve their aims in life and also have empathy and compassion for those that do not truly understand this knowledge.

Lottie :-)

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