Some people of a certain age will never forget this scene from The Neverending Story. Artax the horse has given in to the sadness of the swamp and our brace hero, Atreyu, must watch his beloved friend sink and die in the swamp. Atreyu is almost lost himself after that in the mud.
I used to cry every time at that scene as a kid, and that was long before I understood any metaphorical implications. Now, depending on where I’m at, this scene still sticks with me.
If I’m depressed, I obviously relate to the horse and I feel like I’m drowning in the mud. I’m not there today. Today, I feel like Atreyu the warrior, battling on after something sad has happened (previous depressive episode), and desperately trying to not get stuck in the mud on the way to something bigger.
I worry that we are only here for a Finite amount of time and I keep finding myself stuck and held down by my own fear and anxiety.
Sure, I unstuck myself past the first round of scary things. I made it past Artax the horse. I worry that I am now just getting mired down somewhere in the swamp. Taking slower and slower steps without realizing it. I am afraid of sinking because I don’t know if I can pull myself back up again. I’m terrified of that dark place.
The major theme in that movie is that The Nothing is destroying the world of Fantasia. It devours everything like a black hole and leaves… nothing. I feel like I am always on the run from The Nothing that is depression or a mixed episode. Constantly on guard. Never relaxing. Yet somehow still getting paralyzed by fear and stuck in that muddy swamp.