When I’m fair worn out…

… my mind rebels and my body just isn’t sure at all, about what it should do with itself. I stop thinking well. In fact I’m often caught wondering if I’ve been thinking at all. I’m on automatic pilot when this happens. I just put one foot in front of the other; I nod (I hope) in most of the right places when the XO is talking to me and I keep trying to make sure tasks sit out in front of me – rather than sneaking up on me from behind. I have a confession to make: I am – like many people around me – a person that struggles with depression.

Many years ago I trained in what was known as HMAS Countersunk – the Damage Control module located at HMAS Penguin down in the south of New South Wales. A multiple story steel structure that resembled a cutaway profile section of a Naval Warship from top to bottom. It looked like a big, grey, steel sandwich – your classic Dagwood kind – with the compartment between decks acting as the filling!

It consisted of several ‘sealed’ compartments that could re-construct three different kinds of flooding scenarios. It could simulate a ‘slow’ flooding scenario from a burst water main pipe. It could bring on a faster one from an explosion-damaged hull; where water flooded in through a variety of blast holes, simulating a ‘hit’ in a compartment under the water line. Then there was the FAST flood; where the compartment filled so quickly, it was all you could do to clear the space of people. Your job then was to get hold of your damage control gear and wedge shut the hatch. You had to keep the water contained within that space and stop it spreading through the rest of the ‘ship’.

The Damage Control training team in charge of HMAS Countersunk, could also do all of these things at once. They could then fill all the spaces with smoke and drop all power, just to have you stumbling about in complete darkness. Worse still, the module was mounted on hydraulic rams and shocks – so it could move under your feet, forcing you to constantly be unbalanced and feel the latent power trapped inside a large amount of water sloshing around in a steel compartment as it wrapped up your feet, then your knees, then your waist and eventually, slopped wetly about your neck.

All you had at hand was a canvas shoulder bag with a series of large wooden wedges, a wooden mallet, steel straps and rubber sheeting. To add to this there were several strategic ‘piles’ of damage control gear located throughout the ‘ship’; small repository of steel boxes with rubber linings – all of various sizes, more steel strapping and rubber sheeting, wooden posts of varying strength and a measuring stick to determine cut off lengths for timber bracings.

If it was a small hole – you jammed wooden wedges in and beat on them with the wooden mallet until you couldn’t fit anymore of the buggers in. The wood swelled eventually and slowed the water down. I have to tell you – trying to do this with a wooden mallet in a flooded compartment is a tiresome business.

If the ‘leak’ was bigger and the water was pouring in – you forced a rubber-lined steel box over it – placed a timber brace between the box’s lid and the nearest solid structure and gather the slack up by driving large wooden braces across each other until it was snug. The sheer pressure below the waterline would do the rest for you if you’ve measured the wooden brace right in the first place.

If it was huge and out of control – you abandoned the space. Your best hope was to get everyone out before the water reached the top hatch and flooded the compartment above you. If someone was inside – you shut them in. The ‘ship’ has to stay afloat at all costs – that or you all die.

To top all of this off – you could well be forced to fight a fire. Several in fact. An explosion – be it missile, torpedo, or exploding ammunition (or other flammables) driven – leads to secondary fires. Below the water line, a rush of water flooding in might well put some of this out. It also might just aggravate the situation and make it worse. Liquid fuel floats on water. An oil fire sitting on top of the water can get into all the same places that water can. All in all, it’s a bugger of a place to be in, if you don’t keep a cool head and deal with your worst threat first.

You’ve also got to restore emergency power. If needs be, you reroute it around the damaged areas. You need to get it back on line, or your fire-fighting capability is severely hampered. You need pumps to run to keep the water pressure up, or to drain water out of a flooded space. You need exhaust fans to run – you need to clear the smoke – restore the ‘breathability’ of a compartment or in the very least – give some better visibility to those people in there trying to do their jobs.  You need all of this to happen as well as it can (given the circumstances) and it has to be able to happen instinctively – like a reflex.

When I’m at my lowest – this is what it’s like for me in my head. I’m getting hammered from all sides; the water’s flooding in, the smoke blinds me, the damn deck keeps moving and there’s no power anywhere, to kick start those emergency systems I need so bloody badly! When I come out the other side I’m absolutely stuffed. It takes me time to regather myself. I feel as if I’ve been beaten on so badly at times, I just don’t know how it is I’m able to get up and keep moving.

Thankfully though – for me – it’s not always like this. These are what I would describe as my absolute worst periods. They don’t happen often. If they did – I’d be a walking wreck! Most times I just hit a flat period; skim through it and pop out the other side – fairly cleanly – fairly free of social fallout.

Now if I feel like this when this happens to me – I just know you feel a similar sense of helplessness when this happens to you. It might be a completely different experience for you – of this I’m sure. However, the helplessness and the sheer bloody weariness that comes with it all – I’m willing to bet – is very much the same.

I just wanted you to know people – if this is you – you’re not alone. However it is you do it; keep moving, keep breathing, keep caring and rest when you need to. It’s a whole other ‘world’ there inside your head – and no two of us are the same. Just take care where you can eh? Anchor yourself well in those that you care for and, those who care for you. Avoid overdoing it and keep a bloody good eye on yourself. Most times, I find, I’m my own worst enemy.

You see folks; I need to cut myself some serious slack at times and perhaps – just perhaps – so do you!

Belongum – Out!

About Belongum

People bring 'things' to me. Not necessarily PHYSICAL things as such - mostly just the loose bits and pieces floating around in their 'brain-box'. Sometimes, they also bring themselves - and THAT isn't anywhere near as simple as it sounds. I come here to pass some of this 'brain-box business' on to the ether world, and to empty my head. Besides folks - I love a good yarn - so come and join me!
This entry was posted in damage control, Depression, Emergency, fear, life, messy, Pain, people, Tired, yarn. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to When I’m fair worn out…

  1. mummabare says:

    I sometimes think there isn’t a soul in the world who hasn’t had their life touched by depression at some point….and if they havn’t maybe its lurking around the corner…ready to pounce like a big black cat when you least expect it.
    I have depression, its seems to be a bit cyclical with me, I can expect to have at least 2 or 3 not so great periods in a year.
    I usually bunker down at those times, hide away in my little nest for the most part, and *force* myself out when I know its just going on a little too long. Oh I hate myself when I do that, I argue with myself “I’m too tired…I just need a good sleep” and the other half of me argues back ” but if you don’t get off your damn arse and do something you are going to chemically bond with the bed and that will be it…you will be bed lady….never to walk in the sunshine again, confined for all eternity to the dark bedroom of despair”.
    Bit melodramatic isn’t it. But thats how I get…all melodramatic. And when I finally do come round I think ” what the friggin hell was my problem…” but it can be the smallest stupidest thing that tips me off.

    But I know that lots of people go through it, because I went to quite a few mothers groups after a horrible csection…and its amazing the insights you get into other people when you sit and talk about something that harrowing.

    People, no matter how tough they may seem on the exterior, are really fragile creatures…and we need the support of each other, understanding, patience….sometimes just knowing your not the only one…is what gets you through.

    Hope you had a good long weekend budda, take care your family and take care of you 🙂


    • belongum says:

      Hey MB… I think you’re right. I’ve really struggled with it simply because I’ve had a background of being able to ‘fight’ those things that threaten me. Most things I’ve faced, I’ve been trained to deal with. Blame my military background I guess. If I haven’t been trained in it directly – I’ve trained in it ‘in-directly’ simply by trial and error, and a healthy does of long term exposure. I’ve been immersed in people’s worlds for a long time. Certain ‘techniques’ are bound to rub off on you 😉

      But it’s always been something either tangible – that I can physically combat – or something ‘buried’ deep inside someone else – that I can step to one side and offer observations on. It’s certainly not been something buried – neck deep – inside of me.

      I’m doing better than I did on some fronts, not so much better on others. It takes it’s worst toll on those closest to me – because when the emotional poo hits the fans – it of course splatters those immediately about me, the worst of all.

      Hardest thing: actually trying to talk about it. That’s why I wrote this. I needed to paint a picture of the way things feel inside my head. I still can’t explain why it is I freeze on some of the most ‘simple’ things when I’m ‘full’ in my head space with this business. I hate it – HATE IT – but know now it’s here to stay.

      I’ve recieved some serious frights in my life; the likes of which – for the most part – my military training encompassed and had me ‘manage’ reasonably well enough. This however – frightens me more – I’ve received next to no ‘training’ for this and I’ve got a ‘trial and error’ period to enter into – that for good or bad – is now about me. Thanks for replying mate…


  2. Simone says:

    *hugs* to you. I’ve vaguely felt like this at times, overwhelmed. But I don’t think it’s ever been bad enough to be called depression for me personally. Though, during the time when I was going through the beginning of seperation it probably came pretty close.
    Feeling slightly overwhelmed with life at the moment, but it’s kind of a luxury problem for me at the moment.
    But I’m glad I’m aware of what depression is/is like, and have people to talk to.


    • belongum says:

      Ha – overwhelmed with LIFE Simone eh? 😉

      AS I said above to MB – I’ve spent a lot of my time, completely immersed in people and the things that come with them. I’ve maintained a sense of neutrality on most of those things, sifted through a lot of them for them, pulled out and dusted off some of the those worth holding onto and encouraged them to feel free to bin those that aren’t helpful at all. Memories and experiences – not to mention the way in which we recall things – can be very damaging for a person. We are (I know) our own worst enemies.

      I think a lot of it – has simply caught up with me. I feel like the emotional version of a ‘sin-eater’ at times and for the most part – I find it really hard not to continue to use my skills for this role. Especially given my own personal background and those I feel obligated to represent or assist.

      Maybe for some people it’s a sliding scale: sometimes emotionally, you find yourself in the Black – your ‘credit’ is high and you feel you’ve got so much room to move it’s hard to believe you could ever run out. And then suddenly – you’re in the Red! It happens so quickly for most people – it’s quite hard to actually gauge. Unless you’re keeping a really good eye on yourself – you simply miss the signs – and find yourself in emotional dept.

      People aren’t taught (generally) to recognise the symptoms. People are encouraged to battle it out on their own and make no noises about it – as we don’t want to make a scene – or come to be attributed as being melodramatic as MB said earlier.

      The one definite thing I know is that no two people are the same in how the react, analyse, process and subsequently deal with (if at all) ‘hits’ on their own personal well-being (physically, mentally or emotionally). for the most part – I find that people flounder – and it’s in the ‘floundering’ that people accrue most of their ‘damage’.

      It’s my thought that if anything in life – you should always be mindful of one thing: be sure that you check in on YOU! You’re ability to cope, your well-being requires just one thing – a good understanding of this inside yourself.

      Most people I’ve yarned with always found the same commonality within themselves – they’ve found that they’ve missed out on looking out for themselves (either through associated trauma or other life experiences like tipping your life into another persons for example – or that someone didn’t value them properly in the first place). This – in my own opinion – costs you. Either immediately – or eventually – but it always catches up with a fella in the end.

      I’m no expert in this field – but people hurt and that does damage.

      As you can see – I’m now in a place where I need to see to my own damage… and my damage (I feel) pales into insignificance when I compare it to others I know. And THAT too causes many problems – of which I’m yet to face…


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