Battling the Black Dog: the trouble with not knowing when …

I have been silent on this blog this week and have been nearly as silent on twitter. I commented that I had “lost my mojo” when it came to writing and had been busy with work. That is true but underlying all of this is that the black dog that is my depression had flared up again.

I don’t write this post to garner sympathy or to self aggrandise. I write because writing helps. If you don’t like that then click away now.

What has struck me this week as the barking dog has overtaking me is the unmistakable feeling of helplessness that comes with not know when the dog is, on the one hand, going to start barking and, on the other hand, going to stop. For therein lies the problem for me: I did not know the dog was coming. Nor do I know why he is visiting this time because things in my life have never, frankly, been better. I am healthy, happier than I ever imagined I could be in my personal life, working in a job that I enjoy and have a roof over my head.

Why then is the bloody dog visiting? Maybe I will never know. I know I am sick of hearing: “you have to let yourself be happy” and “you have it better than most people” because I know those things already.

Unfortunately my brain is telling me other things though because it is flooding my sub-conscious with the negative slant on everything and blocking up my thought processes with procrastination.

I should point out here that I have excellent professional help when dealing with the disease that is depression and have some excellent strategies to help me through these times of blackness. Fundamentally though, as my friend and psychologist Daz has pointed out to me more than once: sometimes you just have to ride these times out like a summer storm.

It does not get me away though from the problem of not knowing when the black dog is going to circle me. Why can’t my depression be like the flu or a bad back and give me fair warning that it is coming? Why can’t I hear the thunder on the horizon like a looming summer storm?

I don’t have an answer and, frankly, that angers me. Actually today I am furious with the black dog: for not only invading my mind with negativity and procrastination but for not letting me know it was on the way.

Feeling fury is oft associated with negativity but in this context I am going to go with something my father said to me once “Son, you were always at your best and worked your hardest when you had a bit of the red mist going”. I am going to, unlike Luke Skywalker resisting the urge to give into his hate, harness my anger at the black dog and try to use it as a way to make it go away.

Being passive hasn’t worked and I am sick of “riding out the storm” and if I can’t tell when it is going to hit me maybe using my anger to fight back at it is the next best thing.

So, black dog, ignore the metaphorical light saber in my hand and run at me today. After a week of trying to avoid you I am ready to face you head on! Let the battle commence ….

3 responses

  1. I liked this post, not because I like what you are going through, but as a badge of support. Forget about what anybody else thinks; if writing helps, keep writing and to hell with them all. This blog is your space to do with as you wish and anyone who thinks otherwise can take a running jump. Good luck with this latest battle against the black dog. I’ll be thinking of you.

      • No problem. I read Marcus Trescothick’s autobiography where he talks about his battle against depression at great lengths. He said one of the big revelations for him was being told that you don’t suffer from depression because you are weak but because you are strong. Most depressives keep going way past the point where other people would give up or ask for help, so that when the inevitable breakdown occurs (and it is inevitable) it is deeper than a bout of unhappiness that the rest of us suffer.
        If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it (though you may want to skip the 2005 chapter).

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