Not Waving, Still Drowning

I’ve been thinking about the phrase ‘not waving but drowning’ recently, realising that so many of the funny posts shared on social media at the moment are really a frantic wave.

Then I recalled the course on water safety I did as part of homeschooling my son last year, particularly the fact that drowning is actually a swift, silent killer. The drowning person is too busy using their arms to stay above water to be able to wave. Too busy struggling for breath to shout for help. Before anyone notices, they slide beneath the surface and are gone.

We learned, too, that walkers and runners are most at risk of drowning in the UK. Not the surfers and swimmers who might be prepared for danger and equipped to deal with it, but people going about their day, not considered by themselves or others to be at risk.

So, my message is, watch your loved ones. Be a lifeguard. As someone who knows all the signs of slowly slipping beneath the surface, and is still desperately looking around for a lifeboat right now, I assure you, people you know are struggling to breathe. Maybe even people like me, who ‘have it easy’; who aren’t trying to hold down a job and teach five kids and care for aged parents, but are still wondering how to get the next breath.

We worry about out kids’ mental health during these awful times, but their minds are elastic, they will bounce back. An adult who already found life hard might not be so lucky. Check on your friends and loved ones, make sure they’re not too exhausted to wave or shout for help.

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