Deeps' Draw Condition in The Ocean | World Anvil
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Deeps' Draw

Fair warning to readers--Deeps' Draw is a condition often leading to self-isolation and thoughts of dying. This has been hard to write about and I hope I have treated it appropriately.
  In the earliest existing tiderider logs, almost a thousand years into the Oceanic Era, tracking the pattern of invocations reveals a shift of focus from the moon to the ocean as a guiding and protecting entity. This was a natural change in a time when boats were beginning to take longer journeys, sometimes spending days out of sight of land. The moon is seen in the sky less than half the time, while the ocean is a constant presence and source of immediate hazards. One of the most feared dangers was what is now called Deeps' Draw.  

Ocean Legend

The place of death is cold and dark, deep and silent, and presses in on every side. The people move through death without seeing and without hearing, without touching and without feeling, and without changing.
— Beginning of Ocean creation story
The deeps is the expanse of water below anchor depth. Over time, the deeps became a part of the ocean mythology as the place where people came from and where the dead should be returned to. Tiderider logs are economical of effort, limited to recording the most important references, so the exact timeline of change is unknown, but by 6000 Oce the new story was accepted as truth.   Along with the deeps as the place of death came the belief that speaking about it was unlucky. Any sailor who mentioned it was thought to invite the attention of the dead in the deeps, who would surround the vessel with an oppressive aura until inevitably a member of the crew would be drawn to join them.   Today, the ocean is no longer worshipped. We understand it as a force of nature, with patterns of winds and currents that can be predicted with some accuracy, but not bribed. Tideriders still set their dead to rest at sea, and the deeps remain mysterious, but not as an omen of death. That superstition has been swept aside. The Deeps' Draw, however, is all too real.


Deeps' Draw is a closed-aura condition in which the internal state is dominantly self-denigrating.* A person whose aura closes due to extreme stress appears detached from events, and may withdraw from normal activities. This is not necessarily a cause for concern, since it enables the person to process the stressful situation without interruption. However, if the aura does not return to its usual state within a reasonable time after the stress has passed, there is danger of Deeps' Draw setting in.


A diagnosis of Deeps' Draw must be made cautiously. Some people have naturally inactive auras, but do not experience the emotional withdrawal that is key to identifying the condition.


Opening an aura that has self-closed from overload is not something that can be easily accomplished through sheer will. There is a class of medicines known to have a loosening effect on auras, but they have been likened to bailing a leaky boat. They stop the feedback spiral but do not address the internal state that leads to Deeps' Draw. With the help of aura specialists, patients can learn what circumstances cause their auras to close down, recognize the signs of Deeps' Draw settling in, and develop strategies for counteracting the spiral.


Because it is not a condition of the body, Deeps' Draw does not directly have an adverse effect on health. However, the condition can lead to unhealthy behaviors. Loss of appetite, poor sleep habits, insufficient physical activity all can weaken the body and its immune system, increasing vulnerability to sicknesses.   The most dangerous aspect of Deeps' Draw is the self-denigration feedback spiral. Because a closed aura reflects the emotional state captured within it, any internal beliefs of worthlessness appear to come from outside sources. People affected by Deeps' Draw can't sense the genuine feelings presented by the auras of those around them. They often avoid others, resulting in an increased isolation which reinforces the belief that they are unwanted or unwelcome. If the feedback cycle is not interrupted, this mistaken belief can intensify to the point that they may take steps to remove themselves from the world.


There is no consistently reliable method of preventing Deeps' Draw. Often a person will not realize she is susceptible until she is in the midst of it. The best that can be hoped for is to prevent a recurrence. Taking aura-awakening medicine is a good start, but the treatment works even better when paired with awareness of how the condition affects her.


The superstition of the deeps may have disappeared, but there is still much public confusion about the nature of Deeps' Draw and other aura-related conditions. It is well known that moods can be contagious, especially where there are large groups of people in small areas. This is most likely the source of the emotional pall that used to be blamed on the deeps: in times of prolonged bad weather or diminishing supplies, a crew confined to a boat can quickly fall into a uniform gloom. But contrary to common perception, Deeps' Draw is not transferred person to person.
Q1D2, 10th day of calm. Rations smaller, deeps getting stronger.   Q1D4, strong east wind! Calm broken, mood also!   Q1D5, tallied heads at end of dawn watch: 1 missing. Deeps took Saha.
— tiderider log excerpts, 8220 Oce

Cultural Reception

Outside of the aura specialist circles in Stolc, Deeps' Draw and other closed-aura conditions are widely misunderstood. It is impossible to tell whether an aura is closed intentionally or involuntarily, leading to the false assumption that people are arrogant, detached, indifferent, aloof, or unsociable, when the reality is they are trapped within a closed aura. Even those who are aware of this class of aura conditions do not fully understand their severity.   This general ignorance adds to the existing difficulty of managing a life with Deeps' Draw. Avoiding people with the condition adds real isolation to the feedback spiral. In writing this article, my intention is to encourage you to look beyond auras and extend patience to people you may not know are struggling.   Thank you for reading.
*--On closed auras:
The current theory of auras considers them to be a mechanism for regulating emotions. When open, an aura displays a person's emotional and mental state, and reads that state from other auras within range. When closed, an aura conceals the person's state and blocks input. (For Eihlarians: you can think of this aspect of auras as being somewhat like eyelids. The default state is open, but people with aura control can close them at will.)   In situations where external input is overwhelming, auras may become overreactive and close as a form of defense. While closed, an aura reflects the internal emotional state as if it is external. People who are unaware that they are closed can enter an emotional feedback spiral as they react and re-react to themselves, leading to outbursts of excitement, terror, rage, etc. that are inexplicable to observers.   It cannot be emphasized enough that closed-aura conditions are not voluntary. People who close their auras intentionally to shut out distractions are not at risk of Deeps' Draw. People who are struggling with Deeps' Draw can't simply open their auras to get over it.

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Author's Notes

Yes, my world has depression, even though I have not experienced it myself. I have tried to represent it accurately and also describe how it would manifest in a slightly-magic context. This is an article I plan to continue updating as I learn more.

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Jan 9, 2024 05:29 by Jacqueline Yang

First, I enjoy this article. I think it's a fairly good depiction of something so serious as depression. It's well written and I like that you were able to intertwine the magic throughout everything. However, I would have liked to see more quotes like the one from the Ocean Creation story at the beginning. It doesn't necessarily have to be from the same story, but maybe someone trying to describe what it's like to have Deep's Draw.

Jan 10, 2024 06:47

Thank you, I was very nervous about writing this. I see what you mean--visually, the article needs something more to break up the text and fill in the sidebar. I'll have to think about what to include. I'm hesitant to make up a quote because mine is an outsider perspective, but maybe an excerpt from an old tiderider log, or notes from an aura specialist. I'll play around with it--since I didn't submit this to a category, I'm free to make changes before the end of judging.

From The River to The Ocean, a civilization grows up.