The Black Dog is the metaphor for depression and is used by the charity SANE to promote mental health awareness.
The Black Dog lives here at times, and very sadly as a mother, the dog visits my beautiful, intelligent, funny, kind daughters. A dog lives with my father and has done all his life. At the age of 77, my father got to know his dog and now manages it well with good meds and support. I cannot imagine a WHOLE LIFE living with it and not being able to do anything. There is much to be said for our more ‘open’ society. (Dad’s word).
It seems that it ‘runs in the family’, like curly hair, or freckles, or a talent. Interestingly, my mother claims it is only on our father’s side!!
In the last few weeks, as I have been studying, posting blogs and getting on with things, the dog has been growing and finally it rendered me unable to do a thing. We got back from our sunny walk in Brighton and it moved in, sitting on me, heavy and bleak, and there was nothing I could do. One waits for it to go. It always does.
While my dog was here, daughter’s was too and she is new to coping with this phenomena. We talked a lot about it, how we recognise the signs, what we do to cope, how we treat ourselves, and most importantly, to be patient.
Rest helps if it possible. Not endless hours of inertia, but rest as needed. Good healthy food helps. Exercise helps. I did a 5k walk with the real dog yesterday and it made a difference. Time and love help. It is ok to cry, feel down, bad, blue, worried, scared, anxious or what it is one feels. Being told to ‘snap out of it’, ‘pull oneself together’ etc. does not help.
The dog is moving off now and who knows when it will be back. But thinking about it, living with depression and functioning in our high energy, high expectation society is an amazing feat. Hats off to anyone who lives with the black dog.