Better, swerving icebergs and crossing chasms

Rachel Saunders
4 min readNov 16, 2021

It is in the quiet moments when the thoughts come rushing in. Titanic like they overwhelm the bulkheads, slowly slowly until ballast no longer holds and down we go. In the moment where inner voices drown out reason and sanity slowly becomes a torrent until deep down the bottom hits, snapping in two. Or so the moments in the dark after midnight seem to go.

Talking about depression and loneliness are easy principles, but in the moments when the closest person is still canyon wide away. Crossing the chasm is as simple as text on a screen, yet the act of movement feels hollow and devoid of meaning. It is easy to know that help is there, it is another knowing within yourself that you can ask. To step across the void between emptiness into something may as well be the gulf between the earth and the moon, airless and full of silent screams.

Talking, the first word, can be the personal Everest, the insurmountable. Closed in within the quiet moments is the crush of self, thoughts racing and self-hate. Wishing, wanting, needing to be some form of better. Better for whom is not the question, for better is as illusive as captive starlight. Better is always moving the goalposts, seeing yourself needing a better version of yourself. In the quiet better becomes the straight jacket, immobile and caught in a web of your own making.

Yet, in the knowing oneself, better sinks us fast into icy depths. Our ballast should be a rock, attainable and settled. Yet, in the inky thoughts we twist in the hurricane searing on our own condemnation. Disappointed, yes, not angry or upset, disappointed. Afraid, even, of somehow never being better. In the drowning there is always a better version of ourselves we seek to be illuminating the path all the way to the bottom. If only.

To silence better, or better yet co-opt it into ourselves, talk and tea, empathy, self-empathy are the instruments of choice. The opposite of better self-loathing is not simply to drown, but to allow yourself self-empathy, to disengage with the rat race of better. Yes, self-improvement is validating, but the race is ultimately with time and yourself. No amount of glory, money, or other markers carries into the last breath, and certainly not better. In the drowning moments it is all our anchors that weigh us down.

Is it wrong to accept life for the ebb and flow? Is it wrong to know that in the quiet moments I am quite capable of sinking into the depths? I would argue no, for in recognising both I feel I can compartmentalise myself and practice self-empathy without raging and being self-destructive. It is easy to let the world pass me by, knowing that better is just out of reach. I drown in the quiet, reach depths, yet to fill the world with noise is maybe just distraction. Wise words once spoken be kind to yourself, keenly felt and hard to follow.

I hold my hand up and admit I am my own Titanic, perpetually sunk by self-loathing and apathy. I must do better, be better, always in competition with myself. Being kind to myself is hard, for who else wills me on to actually be the best version of myself? If I cannot be better then what am I? That answer is the hardest one, for to answer anything other than myself belies a core part of who I am. Does this make me the villain in my own story? Possibly. Slaying dragons is much more glorious than sitting on a deck chair watching the ship swerve the icebergs.

This tension rends the quiet and fills the day. To swerve icebergs takes foresight and understanding, letting go of arrogance and self-loathing. That is not easy, especially when I am attuned to wanting to be better. My quiet times chewing over all things crashes every iceberg in sight, and to stop I must talk. Should talk. Can talk. It should really be that easy, but crossing chasms is never as easy as Indiana makes it out to be.