When you live with depression and anxiety it’s just possible a shark might take a nibble!


I’m sorry about the casual reference to the hottest topic in the media at the moment but as I watched a shark appear from nowhere behind surfer Mick Fanning, I couldn’t help but wonder about the times a f***ing huge metaphoric shark has surfaced to bite my huge metaphoric arse!!

As I think back through the stages of my life I find that no era has been without it’s surprise shark attacks. From being bitten in my own home as a child of 9; to being bitten in my own family as a teen; to being bitten in my marriage; bitten in business; and bitten in church. It seems I have an ongoing relationship with a ‘shiver’ of sharks that routinely circle waiting for me to forget they exist.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to believe that people were good. Yes, they had the potential for bad, but as a rule, I believed goodness would triumph. This, I think, is because I’ve always felt that I was bad. Unwanted. Troublesome. I’m not exactly sure how I came by this self-determination but, having spent a life feeling like I don’t fit in, in a world where I believed everyone else to be good, it seems to be a reasonable conclusion.

It’s always been my belief that I could trust the people I trusted. I always believed their assessment that I was in some way responsible for the crap they dealt out. Even as a 9 year old the first questions I was asked having been found the victim of a ‘home invasion’ sexual assault, were; why did you open the door; and why didn’t you bite him? Not, how dare he do this too you! Not, how dare he invade your home! Just an insensitive, direct assessment of my complicity in what happened. My troublesomeness. My naughtiness. My disobedience.

When I question my siblings about my childhood they continually espouse the way I was spoilt, babied, and made adorable. They considered me to be the lucky one and perhaps I was. By the time I was born my father had almost lost interest in taking out his anger on his children (although he sometimes still did). His violence became almost solely directed at my mother who had learned to stand in his way to protect her children. The fact that my father had no interest in taking out his anger on me, did perhaps have me living in a relative utopia, however like all of life’s experiences, the impact is always personal.

So, what of depression, anxiety and sharks? How is it that we can separate the shark attacks from our illness and attempt to manage what life throws our way?

Regardless of whether Mick Fanning ever surfs again he will always be the surfer who was surprised by a shark. So therefore, perhaps we too should see ourselves as a person with an illness who was surprised by a shark. When you enter the world of the shark, you must expect the possibility of the shark to take a nibble to see what it finds. And, if the sharks are hungry you may not survive.

So too we enter a world so full of evil that we must expect the possibility that evil will take a nibble. And if it’s hungry, it’s possible we’ll be consumed. Will we be consumed because of our depression and anxiety? Definitely not! We’ll be consumed because that’s what evil does.

From Lyndsay Wagner: (Who doesn’t want to be bionic?)
“A lot of people say they want to get out of pain, and I’m sure that’s true, but they aren’t willing to make healing a high priority. They aren’t willing to look inside to see the source of their pain in order to deal with it.”


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Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.

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If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor or contact an organisation such as Beyond Blue.

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(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)