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Black Dog February 4, 2011

Posted by howibecameawriter in Uncategorized.
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In previous blog posts I have included parts of the book I will be publishing but thought I should share with you the main story of the book – my battle with depression. It’s not my intention to make this blog all about depression but the book will track my journey of identifying the signs, dealing with the day to day management of it and how I can live a normal life now.  I go far back in time to some early childhood memories to explore some of the possible triggers of this debilitating disease in the hope that I can finally put the whole episode to rest and also help others to understand the inner battle, pain and destruction depression can bring.

When I first started to realise I suffered from this, and when it was later confirmed by my doctor, I started doing lots (and lots) of research on the subject. I desperately wanted it to be something else;  a condition I could talk to friends and family about without having their pitiful looks or them trying awkwardly to make me happy again (a common misconception of non-depression sufferers is that if you can make the person laugh, they will forget about being depressed. Whilst laughing is a great medicine, sadly it doesn’t always cut it). I’m not saying I wanted to be sick or have some other horrible disease, I just couldn’t believe that I had depression. What was wrong with me? To any outsider, or even those close to me, I had a great life – a loving partner, decent job, good group of friends, physically fit, average intelligence. Unfortunately depression is not picky who its victims are.

My research led me to several sites and a constant image which kept recurring was that of a black dog. Not a physical black dog but a metaphor used for experiencing depression.  This term originated in the 1780’s when English writer Samuel Johnson used it to describe his own depression and was later popularised by former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. Since that time, many books have been written using this imagery depicting a lurking and dark presence of a black dog, indicating a heavy burden for the carrier to bear.   It is like waking up one day to an all encompassing darkness around and within you.  Often it comes without warning and is always an uninvited guest. The fact that it’s a dog, and I absolutely love dogs, does not take away from the fact that this image completely resonates with me and is one I have used to cope with the days where depression creeps upon me, although they are fewer of late I am happy to note 🙂

You might think it is hard for me to write about it but it’s actually therapeutic, especially now that I am able to recognise the symptoms, take immediate action and mitigate the results. If my book can help one other person cope with this misunderstood and under publicised condition, it will all have been worth it.

As always, thanks for reading and Happy Lunar/Chinese New Year – the Year of the Rabbit is here!

Until next time…

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