When you live with depression and anxiety ships roll in and then you watch them roll away again.


I’ve had this Otis Redding song stuck in my head for a few days so I’ve been wondering if it’s trying to tell me something. Is it a clue to what I’m feeling in the depths of my soul and might it help me unpack a more meaningful view of myself and the world around me? If I was a different person, I might just let the song eventually fade away to be replaced by some other thing. But today, I’m up for the challenge of trying to work out if it means something.

In the first instance I wondered whether this song was just a simple reminder about my recent sojourn to the sea. It was, I admit a very nice few days of watching a bay bound by the extremes of nature’s temperament and the ships, when they appeared on the horizon, seemingly insignificant in the magnificence of nature’s best. Of course you can buy a relatively cheap ‘app’ that will provide all the available information about the ship. Where it’s from, to whom it belongs to and where it’s going. Sometimes you can find out what payload it’s carrying and details about the captain and crew.

If only I could get an ‘app’ to detail and quantify the events in my life. A tool I can log on to and be provided with all the details required to make an assessment of whether this is something I should devote myself to worrying about or whether it’s just another passing well… err… ‘ship’.

If I think back to a time when I was raising children (it’s becoming a more distant memory) it seemed that every day included problems that were seemingly insurmountable. As a young mother the problems associated with managing my own life and the lives of others led me to turn relatively minor events into events that when I think back, I wonder; what I was thinking!

Not withstanding that for many of the years I was raising young people, I was dealing with undiagnosed depression and anxiety ensuring many of my (over) reactions were based not in reality, but in my own experiences and fears. If there were pardons available for all the dumb stuff we do as parents I’d be permanently in the queue.

Now I look at those ships that fleetingly passed across my field of vision and wonder how they managed to survive the journey. I wonder why I spent more time sitting on the dock looking up at a massive hull, so overwhelmed by its enormity, it was impossible for me to see anything else. I wonder why I blinded myself to any view of the ship that would show me what it was capable of. Or, from where it came and to where it was going. I wonder why I was unable to see that these ships had to live in a much bigger world than what it appears when they’re tied to the dock.

When I had them securely tied to my well-considered philosophy about parenthood, I refused to see that among the day-to-day trials of getting from one place to another, there would be a greater force. A biology that would have more control than any carefully considered and (badly?) executed parenting plan.

As nature intended my children are both like me and unlike me. And whilst I hold on to this dissonance there’s a risk I’ll parent them as if they were me. As if by having them, I was provided an opportunity to re-live my own childhood in the hopes of securing a better outcome.

If I were to coin a slogan from another campaign, I’d tell you that children are for life, not just for Christmas. But it’s their life, not ours and so we must see it in the context of where they came from and where they’re going to. We must, at least occasionally allow ourselves to walk away from the dock, into the hills and to look at them as they really are.

I’ve wondered now about how parenting can appear so enormous that we fail to see the lives of our children in a fuller context. But it’s not just the parenting experience that can leave us overwhelmed. Many of life’s problems appear to us like the hull of a ship in dock. Unmoving and a seemingly permanent angst in our future.

If we could just bring ourselves to understand that ships do not dock forever. They are built to travel from destination to destination, docking only to on-load and off-load and always at the whim of nature’s best disposition.

So, I’ve sat at the dock of the bay watching the ships roll in and then I watch ’em roll away again. I’ve suffered the agony of believing I’ve had nothing to live for and [it] look[s] like nothin’s gonna come my way.

Looks like nothing’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same, listen

If you’re sitting on the dock of the bay, you are, in fact, wasting time. When you move back and look again you’ll find that ship’s not as big as you think.

From Otis Redding: Always think different from the next person. Don’t ever do a song as you heard somebody else do it.

If you’d like to hear Otis Redding performing ‘Sittin’ on the dock of the bay’ CLICK HERE  (you’ll be taken to YouTube)


If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.


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


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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.)