Anatomy of the Deep Well of Depression
Notice next in the diagram what appears to be fish surrounding the man treading water. I call these fish the piranha of depression and serve to symbolize the sources from which perceived problems and challenges originate. These are the very challenges that consume you, that eat at you mercilessly, and push you toward that breaking point in depression.
Observe in the deep well of depression diagram that the fish appear to be attracted to the presence of the man in the water. While treading water, the man is vulnerable and defenceless to the relentless strikes of the piranha. All the man can do is struggle to stay afloat while trying to fend off the successive strikes of the piranha of depression, forcing him closer to defeatism.
Notice there are six piranha in diagram. These represent six key areas of life:
In the figurative context of the deep well of depression, each life area listed is represented by a piranha circling around the man in the water. The ‘Family’ piranha for instance, may be the one biting because of marital challenges. Similarly, the ‘Financial’ piranha could be most aggressive due to financial challenges. The ‘Physical’ piranha could be the instigator due to chemical imbalance in the brain. The ‘Mental’ piranha could be associated with unhealthy or irrational beliefs about oneself or the world around them. These are just a few simple examples illustrating the symbolic nature of the piranha of depression.
Not all piranha attack at once
One feature relating to the piranha of depression is that in this figurative setting, not all six piranha necessarily attack simultaneously. The aggressive behavior of these fish is dependent upon how hungry they are. That is, the intensity of attack is determined by which fish is hungriest, or alternatively, which area of your life is most challenged or starved.
For example, I may be a person struggling with depression due to circumstance, such as poor family relations, while in another area, such as financial, I may be well off. In the figurative context of the deep well of depression, I would be tormented by each successive bite by the ‘Family’ piranha (i.e. due to poor relations with my wife or children) while the ‘Financial’ piranha swims around, unmoved by my presence. This may be because in reality, I spent all of my time focusing on my career and making money (i.e. feeding the ‘Financial’ piranha), while neglecting my family, never being around for my kids (i.e. starving the ‘Family’ piranha).
By neglecting a certain life area for so long, it means in the figurative context that I’ve been starving this particular piranha, to the point where it is reacting with vicious intensity. As a result, these attacks begin to overwhelm, making it difficult to acknowledge any good in life while tormented in the deep well of depression.
When you struggle with depression, you feel consumed by the perceived problems and challenges in your life. They are the first thing you think of when you wake in the morning and are what keeps you awake at night. The merciless attacks by the piranha of depression can be incredibly overwhelming, so much so that over time, they can erode cognitive defenses, leaving you vulnerable as you contemplate ways to make the suffering stop.