Managing Darkness

Last night, I dreamed that I was standing on a beach. It was a sandy beach: I could feel the sand between my toes and the sun on my arms. The sky was blue above me. I was watching the waves, a camera in my hand, ready to take pictures. And then, while I watched, one of the waves grew larger and larger. It crashed over me and swept me out to sea. Since I saw the wave growing and could anticipate what might happen, I had enough time to put my glasses and camera into my camera bag. And then the wave crashed over me. I opened my eyes and saw swirls of blue and green, the roiling water. I felt the confusing of being swept out. When I surfaced again, I was far from shore, still holding the camera bag by its strap. I was afraid that I wouldn’t get back to land, that I couldn’t do it by myself. That I wasn’t strong enough. But the sea helped me: another wave washed back to shore and carried me along with it. I made it to land again.

I woke exhausted.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t dream the way I do: vividly, intensely. I have many dreams each night, and in each one, it’s as though the dream is my life for the length of it. I’m completely in the dream. It becomes my reality. Sometimes this is wonderful, and I wish for the dream life, not wanting to wake up. Sometimes it’s terrible, because I can have dreams that are vivid yet mundane. Dreams of being lost in enormous subway systems, where I inadvertently leave my purse and all my identification on the subway. Of being trapped in falling elevators. But of course I also have dreams in which I can fly, or I am in love, or I write an entire novel. Wonderful dreams.

I thought some images from my visit to Peaks Island would be appropriate for this blog post. They are from my bike ride around the island, when I took pictures of the rocky shore. The shore in my dream was not rocky, but I was holding the same camera.


I posted about my dream on Faceook, and several people suggested that the dream represents my fear of being overwhelmed. One said that water often represents the emotions. And I think there’s truth in that: I’m afraid of being overwhelmed, in part by all my obligations and responsibilities, and there is certainly an emotional component to it. I’ve spent the last two months traveling, and the truth is that I wish I were still traveling. I don’t particularly want to be back. I loved freeing free . . .


There were entire days, entire weeks, while I was traveling, when I felt what I can only describe as wild joy. I felt it on the day I rode on a bicycle around Peaks Island. I felt the wild joy of riding through warm, salty air, of hearing the waves crashing on the rocks, of feeling the sunlight on my arms. The wild joy of movement, and the sea. Now I am back to work.

If you’ve been through depression, even once, you’re conscious of it ever after. It’s like having had any other disease that can recur. You watch for symptoms. That’s why I called this blog post “Managing Darkness.” Because the dream is a symptom, so now I need to manage my mood and responses. Now I need to be aware, to make sure I take care of myself. Because the truth is, I don’t want to be back here yet. I miss traveling . . .


I might write more about that, about how one manages the darkness, in my next blog post.  But I think it means something, too, that a wave swept me back.  That the sea took me out, but then helped me back to shore.  That it returned me, safely, to land.

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9 Responses to Managing Darkness

  1. >>If you’ve been through depression, even once, you’re conscious of it ever after. It’s like having had any other disease that can recur. >>

    Absolutely. Its a spectre you never stop watching for.

  2. Joel LeBlanc says:

    Having just returned home from over a week in the mountains, I am back at work and experiencing something I can only describe as an extreme form of listlessness, as if my soul is still out there, somewhere, walking in the hills and the wild forests, and hasn’t found its way home yet. Anything brighter than moonlight feels too harsh now.

  3. Wez says:

    I’ve only just started following you on Twitter – can’t remember whatever spark of connection caused me to do so at the moment – and was surprised to see the blog title and link appear in my ‘stream’. I almost instantly connected it to ‘depression’ and followed the link, to find the post above.

    I’m no ‘interpreter’ of dreams, but your’s made me think that perhaps you’re having a moment of ‘carrying the world on your shoulders’ and feeling ‘alone’ doing so. I don’t mean to be intrusive (so feel free to ignore or tell me to F off etc.) but are your parents still alive? Do you have a ‘partner’ whom shares travels, stories, kindnesses etc.? This isn’t a solicitation btw lol, I have lived with depression myself and am generally interested in noticing the ‘triggers’ or ‘bad signs’ that can lead one’s mental map to go slightly askew and also what works in allowing one to bypass the ‘bad’ roads and find either new methods of navigation or re-employ old ways in different ways.

    Your comments on the longevity of it’s affect caused me to think about how alcoholism can also apparently extend it’s claws far beyond whatever grave the recovering alcoholic buried it.

    I myself am currently using what I like to think of as the ‘distraction’ method for deafening me to depression’s whispered whining. I noticed something in common with 99% off all people whom (I have personally met) whom have or do suffer depression and of myself, and that is, that we have a extraordinarily internal dialogue (monologue?) in comparison to the majority of people whom don’t suffer with depression. Most people I have spoken to seem also to have their own ‘go to’ dialogues which become more prevalent within their internal ‘conversation’ as their depression strengthens. Sooo… (my apologies, I am a witterer) …I have been simply following the policy of reading the closest book title and then naming the colour of a flower or imagining a beautiful beach and sea stretched out in front of me, or describing everything I see for the next two (arbitrary no) minutes out loud (if alone lol), using only one word etc. It doesn’t stop me getting ‘bad’ thoughts, but it has slowly been training me to realise I’m not at their mercy when they come calling.

    I think you’ll be fine, but thanks for any thoughts you have to share on this topic, both above and in the future.

    Kind regards


  4. sarah says:

    I personally believe that our lives are twofold. We have the outward living – out waking existence – and the inward living – our dreams. I believe each are as important as the other. So I wouldn’t say your dream represents you feeling a fear of being overwhelmed – I think it is you living the experience of being thus afraid. (But I know my belief is unscientific and strange to most people, lol.) I’m looking forward to your post on managing the darkness.

  5. Melinda says:

    We cannot manage our dreams, but we can manage our depression and it’s relationship to anxiety and how our minds deal with that. Will be watching for your future post.

  6. I think it was a lovely dream that reflects strength and perseverance.

  7. zm says:

    Dora, thank you for sharing your adventures and being the adventuress.
    First, a caution about some who don’t have as relatively active, or self-restorative, an inner dialogue life. Whenever I hear their dour interpretations, I take all that foreboding with a large grain of pink salt. It is almost cliche, and rather self-secure-strength-in-numbers-CW, to see a wave and in their conditioned minds glom onto the concept of depression (i.e., this necessarily equals that, and the bailiwick that goes with it). fwiw, In one of my mind’s eye journeys, I first engage the Wisdom of my path by hurdling over three fallen trees, (i.e., any typically self-paying deadwood), as a symbol of clearing the rest of the way to experience what is rather truly intended.

    That being said – The fabulous, soul-renewing work & play in which I have been involved throughout my colorful life, and more intensively of late, asks the Dreamer to interpret the wisdom of the Dream. What is a Wave to you? What did it mean that even as you were washed off the shore, you had your glasses and camera with you? That you had enough time to secure them (whatever they are to you) before being swept away? What do the swirling blues and greens say? Were the blues and greens the dissolved or the dissolving? What of the roiling water?

    And mostly, if anything could perhaps become one of your posts on your corkboard, such rippling, reverb, resonance is in your words here:

    “I was afraid that I wouldn’t get back to land, that I couldn’t do it by myself. That I wasn’t strong enough. But the sea helped me: another wave washed back to shore and carried me along with it. I made it to land again.”


    Like so many others who can, and have, traveled the light fantastic, you may be sensing what so many others of us are: That outside the door, there is a simultaneous percolation of molecules old world and new. And like some cosmic confectioner-sugar-sifter in action, the symbols in our dreams are showing us that the molecules on some waves dissolve out at sea and, yet still, another wave is along momentarily, returning the longstanding, eternal wave back to terra firma. A particle reshored along with a whole bunch of other particles. There’s still time. And you’ll have everything with you that you need to do the most important thing: Remember. 🙂

  8. Congratulations! You’re the recipient of the Super Sweet Blog Award. Here’s the link to get you started on your own post where you can pass on the award to other bloggers:

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