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From the Queenly Archives: Dolphin Riding

By Kathyrn Lynard

When Kathy volunteered the (now private) archives of her blog for us to sample from on Blog Segullah, I was surprised and flattered and overwhelmed. This post is what introduced me to Kathy. Kathy is who introduced me to Segullah and Segullah gracefully introduced me to all of you. Thanks Kathy and enjoy! —Maralise

Originally published on April 12th, 2006

Thomas and I made our grand appearance at church on Sunday. (Due to his fragile health we’d had to opt out since we was born six months before.) It was really strange, thinking of all that had transpired since my last time there, and really nice, becoming reacquainted with all the people and feelings that I have long enjoyed there.

I was amazed by how this whole situation worked itself out. A few weeks ago I was worried that I would never want to be there again. But just as my excuse to be home ran out, my desire and capacity to rejoin the community came flowing back.

My relief at this resolution reminded me of an experience I had a couple of years ago. At that time I was struggling to recover from the upheaval surrounding Sam’s birth. He was my sixth child, and the first to have any serious problems in the neonatal period. While he was only hospitalized for three weeks, and was perfectly healthy afterward, the experience shook me soundly. A year later, I was still in a pretty deep funk.

I was talking on the phone with a dear friend of mine, who is a licensed social worker. Concerned that I was becoming clinically depressed, I was describing my symptoms and hoping that she would give me a diagnosis. For some reason, having someone say, “yes, you are officially depressed,” seemed very important, as if I needed that validation to be able to name and own what was happening to me. As I spoke, an image impressed itself strongly in my mind. It was a dolphin, diving into the waves and then surfacing again. I heard myself talking to my friend, using words that didn’t seem to be coming from my own mouth.

“I’m going to be okay,” I said. Suddenly it didn’t matter if I was officially depressed or not. I felt what I felt, and I knew it was temporary. “It’s like riding on a dolphin. You submerge for a while, but if you’re patient you’ll come up again. You just have to hold on and ride it out.”

Now, that may seem really obvious, and I can’t describe why that was such a relief in the moment. Probably because when I’m depressed I’m quite certain I have always felt that way (those happy times were just times of denial) and I would always feel that way. The notion that I wasn’t really “stuck,” and that things would work themselves out without any doing on my part, was like a key to peace.

Those same fears and that same relief have been in play again this past while. I still have not recovered from all the craziness of this year, but I’m less scared about that. I am beginning to understand that I can trust my body and mind and spirit to know what to do. When they need to power down for a while, when they need extra rest and support, that doesn’t mean I’m falling apart, losing my mind, losing my health.

I’m posting this with the hope that I will be able to hold on to this trust. So much of my stress comes from pushing myself. “You should be better by now,” I think. “It’s time to buck up.” “There is something seriously wrong with you, for feeling this way.” I hope I can feel more settled about resting when I’m tired, doing less when I have less to give. And I hope I can better trust life to take me where I need to go. Apparent trends aside, my life is not a downward spiral to hell.

It’s just a dolphin ride.

About Kathyrn Lynard

(Founding Editor) is the author of the memoir The Year My Son and I Were Born (Globe Pequot Press, 2009) and the editor of four published anthologies. She contributes to Mormon forums from Meridian Magazine to Sunstone on a variety of topics including gender issues, disability, mental health, sexuality, family life, and spirituality.

7 thoughts on “From the Queenly Archives: Dolphin Riding”

  1. I hope that my friend Sarebear will see this. I think that I will put a link from her sight. She loves dolphins! What an intersting and wonderful way of looking at the peaks and valleys.

  2. I have had similar feelings at times I have been depressed–feeling like I have always felt that way and will never be happy again. I have also struggled with the feeling that it is my fault and I should be able to boot-strap my way out of the funk. I, too, had a time when although I knew I was depressed, I needed to be diagnosed by someone else before I felt I had permission to get help.

    Your story helps me in many ways with my past and with my future. Thank you.

  3. People who suffer one episode of depression will usually suffer another. But, these episodes are more troublesome than the mere ups and downs of life generally. How wonderful to have a way to deal with all of life's ups and downs and to have the insight to recognize what kind of help one needs.

    Telling someone in a depressive episode to just snap out of it is like expecting a runner with a broken leg to complete a marathon. The good news is treatment works.

  4. Amen to that, Claudia. I started treatment for depression a month or so before writing this post. I'd suffered from varying degrees of depression my whole life, had taken antidepressants for a short time years before, and had afterward resolved to never take them again, which was foolish. I'd managed to hang on to the dolphin during my subsequent depressive episodes, eventually surfacing, but this time around I needed an adjustment in brain chemistry so that I wouldn't fall off. I only wish I had taken that step a dozen years sooner–I would've spent much less time underwater.

  5. What I find interesting about this post is that the spirit gave your mind an image. Oftentimes we hear of people receiving words, but I've had an "image" experience and I'm starting to hear of others. Even in matters of revelation, a picture is worth a thousand words, I guess! Interesting, thanks for sharing.

  6. After 5 kids and 15 years of "pulling myself up by my boot straps" it took a major family crisis to give me "permission" to go to a therapist who said I could use some meds.

    I was astounded, actually insulted by the recommendation from an LDS bishop/therapist that I needed meds!!!
    I never thought he would say such a thing!
    MY naivete!

    I told him I would have to pray about this.
    I had read and prayed so much previously believing my "dolphin riding" would be taken care of with praying, scripture reading, healthy eating, exercising and all manner of right living.

    I had my husband go to an appointment also with the therapist to explain meds to both of us.
    My husbands response "when can she start?"
    He saw my white knuckling for years.

    That was 15 years ago. I had no clue how hard I was working against the condensed PMDD that had built up. The serotonin meds really made the "dolphin ride" less underwater and more above.

    Don't over respond, but don't under-respond to depression.

    Suffering from any mental illness is not necessary in this day of modern medicine.

    However, medicine alone won't take care of everything.

    It's part of a multi-pronged modality for helping these mortal bodies do the best we can in a world of disease, sickness, pollutants, and stress.


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