The maelstrom does have an end, but you don't want to be there, the aim of the game, is to keep on sailing.
Off the coast of Norway, there lies an unusual phenomenon in the open waters not far off the coast of Mosken. I've never been there in life, but I've encountered it twice now on my literary journeys in Herman Melville's rather laborious Moby Dick and much more enjoyably in Cixin Liu's Death's End, the final instalment of the Three Body Problem trilogy.
In Death's End, the Moskstraumen is used as a metaphor for the inescapable and incomprehensibly complex black holes but I'm going to use it for the even more abstract concept of our mental wellbeing.
I’ve used the metaphor of the ship adrift on the ocean before, and I was reminded of it again by Richard Osman on Steven Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO podcast.
On the podcast, Osman talks about his own struggles, predominantly with food and how the only solution he could come up with during his difficult times, was to eat more of it. The shame he felt from his compulsive overeating pushed him to utilise the only coping mechanism he had, which was to eat more. Which of course, he'd feel more shame about. And the downward spiral, the descent into the whirlpool continues.
No matter how far into the maelstrom we are, the first step is always identifying that we're in it, but even still, I know I've felt depressed about feeling depressed. You can feel anxious about feeling anxious and you can definitely feel shame about feeling shame.
It's helped me to understand that I'm never going to fully escape the clutches of the maelstrom. It may seem a depressing thought at first, but for me, resetting my expectations so that I'm not hoping to be free forever more, empowers me to reach out for a safety line every now and then. It reminds me to keep looking after myself first, so I can best help those around me.
I don't need the weight of expectation that I won't have another low period.
I don't need to stress about not getting stressed.
Knowing that I'm existing in my own Moskstraumen, even if I struggle to pronounce it, means I have some power to keep sailing on my ocean