Shall I Compare Me to a Shark?

As I mentioned in my last blog I have started an introductory course in counselling; during the introductions we were asked to say which animal we were most like, and then yesterday we had to talk about that while another person listened.

I had really struggled to decide which animal I think am like, and thought that I had avoided the question until it came up again yesterday.  In a way, I am glad it did because it meant I had to come up with something and then try to explain it.

The one animal that came to my mind was a shark, which seemed quite odd to me because I am not a fearsome predator at the top of a food chain; I would probably have thought I was more like a sardine, something small and insignificant, but I kept coming back to a shark.

I explored this during the listening exercise we did yesterday, and I started to understand why my mind was drawn to this particular animal.

Sharks are one of my favourite creatures, on the one hand they are quite terrifying, but on the other they have a grace of movement that is quite beautiful.  One of my greatest experiences was cage diving with Great White sharks off the coast of South Africa; it was amazing despite feeling seasick.

Their eyes seem to be emotionless black holes, and their mouths are a jagged array of razor sharp teeth, but there is something about their grace and power that demands the greatest respect.

Anyway, I digress; let’s get back to me the shark…..

I think I chose the shark because they are generally solitary creatures, and I feel like that at the moment, isolated and a bit of a loner.  Due to my mental health, I sometimes feel misunderstood and I think this is the same for the shark, not because of their mental state, but more about how their behaviour is viewed.  The book and the movie ‘Jaws’ did nothing for their reputation and scientists have had to work hard to convince people that there is a lot more to them than just being mindless killing machines.

Sometimes I feel that certain people avoid me because of my situation, maybe because there is some unknown fear about mental health, some lack of understanding of my condition, fear of the unknown, or a sense of not knowing what is going on under the surface and how I will react.

The shark is capable of sudden bursts of violence.  My violent outbursts do not manifest themselves in the same physical way as a shark’s does; I don’t go around biting or attacking people.  My anger is more emotional and comes out verbally and through panic attacks.  Kim is the only person who has seen me at my worst; she has witnessed the really bad panic attacks and seen the rage build up to a point where I become paralysed by it rather than let it out, which will have been very distressing for her, especially because a lot of the time it can come out of the blue.

Sometimes I feel as though I am in a murky world and this can feel quite solitary, swimming in the dark depths of the oceans, making an appearance every now and then.

The Deep - Photo by Cristian Palmer on Unsplash

A lot of the above may be completely false, and just my mind’s perception of itself; it may be my over anxious mind making a mountain out of a mole hill.  Maybe I am actually something small and fluffy, something less unsettling.

It has been interesting to think about.  It just shows how complex and weird the mind can be and how vivid the imagination can be.  At times I feel a bit embarrassed about my thoughts, and that is why I didn’t really want to talk about my choice of animal.

I think it is important to explore my thoughts and emotions because they will only make me worse if they are kept locked away.  I think I need to get writing creatively again, and just let my thoughts happen, accepting them as part of the journey I am on.

I’ll ask my counsellor about it and let you know when it’s safe to go back in the water…..

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

P. S. – Maybe have a think about what animal you are like, and why?

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