In the past few years I have taken up surfing. Not the surfing you do in the actual ocean, but surfing in what us DBTers like to call Emotion Ocean. For people who have a mental illness, they will understand that our emotions are like a vast sea, dark and dangerous, with waves that can suck you under at any time. For years I would get lost in that ocean. A wave of sadness would quickly become a tsunami of pain, anguish, and anxiety. Despite efforts to keep my head above water, eventually, I would be caught in a riptide, sucked under, exhausted and ready to stop swimming.
Eventually I found ways to keep afloat. Medications, therapies, and coping skills became my surfboard, allowing me to catch a wave that I could ride safely to shore. It still meant I was in Emotion ocean for awhile, but at least I had something to help me stay above water until I reached dry land, instead of fighting the waves that could quite possibly cause me to drown.
Every once in awhile, I fall of my surfboard, get water up my nose, and momentarily lose focus. But once I catch sight of my surfboard, climb on and catch a stellar wave, I know I can find my balance and get back to the exhilaration of the journey to land.