Depression – the black dog – what doesn’t help (even if you think it should).

In the past I bottled up all my emotions to “protect” myself and other people. I kept it all in locked boxes that were hidden in the corners of my mind and they stayed there – until someone threw in a stick of dynamite and blew the hell out of it all. Suddenly, all these categorized events, emotions and more were thrown up into the air in a wild frenzy of cyclonic activity and I hadn’t a clue how to deal with it.

I have often described my head space in picture form and the only way I could describe this storm going on in my head was like sitting on those old fashioned roundabouts. You know the sort? The ones with a wooden seat, bars coming from the centre and we used to sit astride the bars, tip our heads back and someone would spin it tossing the surrounding scenes into a whirligig of colours, streaks of blurred lines all blending into one and when the roundabout finally stopped and you sat back up your powers of balance took a while to stop buzzing. My head is like this. An out of focus mish-mash of ideas, thoughts, feelings – just out of reach and focus – and just as the roundabout slows down enough for me to be able to pick out some of the craziness something comes along and sets the roundabout spinning at full pelt. When I say stop the world I want to get off – I literally mean it – let me off this roundabout.

Nowadays I am a lot more open about how I am doing and I know it annoys people but I am done protecting others’ feelings because it doesn’t protect me. If that makes me selfish then I apologise but I have spent to much of my life looking out for others before myself. There are too many people in the world afraid to speak out about their depression because they are worried about upsetting others so we lock it away, we hide, we hurt ourselves – sometimes physically as well as mentally.

And now I get people who really believe they are helping with some of their comments but depression is a dark, miserable, scary place and it is not somewhere that you can just “snap out of”. Don’t you think if it was that easy we would all have done it by now instead of being torn apart inside? With this in mind I am going to list some of the comments – not in an accusatory way but as a means of helping someone who may have never suffered with depression help someone who is in that darkness. And if you have suffered in the past – but have “forgotten” the internal pain – maybe you need a small reminder of what may have upset you at the time. I was there for you – always will be – now I need you to be here for me.

  • There is always someone worse off than you.

Yes there is but I can’t help myself at the moment so please tell me how I can help them?

  • You have a wonderful family – what do you have to be depressed about?

I do have a wonderful family and they are very supportive of me however when you are in the depths of the darkness even the brightest shining lights of your family are dimmed. Thanks for reminding me that I am not capable of feeling that joy at the moment! Believe me I would rather be feeling the joy than the depression.

  • You need to live in the moment and stop dwelling on the past.

Not all depressive episodes are due to an explainable reason. People with what would appear to be very good pasts can suffer from depression. The black dog doesn’t care about your history, race, social standing, anything. If it is going to bite it bites.

  • I know how you feel – I have had off days too.

Actually – you don’t or you wouldn’t make such a sweeping statement. Every person’s depression is unique and behaves in a different way. We can try and empathise but please don’t trivialise it by suggesting it is an “off day”

  • Welcome to the real (or my) world (when you say you are exhausted after dealing with a busier than usual day)

I would love to live in your world if it meant I could actually function beyond waking up, getting dressed and getting the children to school. That is exhausting enough – simply putting one step in front of the other with a smile plastered on your face too try and hide the true emotions (protecting others again).

  • I’ve lost people too but I live for today.

Not the best thing to say on an anniversary date (or in that anniversary period). Well done you on taming your black dog (if it ever bit you in the first place) but my black dog is currently running crazily around my head dragging it’s lead around my legs tying me in knots! I have to grab the end of it first to detangle it before I can live for today.

  • Can’t you just snap out of it?

Don’t you think I would have already if I could? Of course I like stumbling around in the depths of my dark tunnels!

  • Isn’t it time you got over it?

As per the point above – don’t you think I wish I could!!!?

  • Look at all the good you do/all the people who love you. Why should you be depressed?

I stay busy and do all the things I do to stop me thinking but this only hides things for so long before it starts seeping into what I do. When I crash (like I am doing right now) everything becomes too much and I stop functioning. I wish I knew why I was depressed (there isn’t always a reason) besides – I am currently undergoing counselling to try and help. This drags up stuff for me to face my fears – that’s enough to turn people to drink! And you wonder why I don’t and others take the mickey out of me for not drinking. I think if I did I would never stop!

  • I’m sorry I can’t make it better/can’t make you happy

In the old cliché – it isn’t you – it’s me. Please don’t make me feel like I have to make your feel better because you can’t make me better. I am trying so hard and feeling like a failure because I can’t be “okay” for you.

So what does help? A hug, a smile, just sitting quietly by me – not constantly asking me what is wrong or if I am okay, a kind word, a cup of tea, an attempt to understand and not turn everything into how you deal with things – until you are there you don’t know how you would deal with it and, as every depression is different, so are people’s ways of dealing with it.

If you think I am having a go at you or you feel that I have offended you – feel free to unfriend me on Facebook, unfollow me on Twitter, feel free to walk away from me. I won’t be offended and, as things stand – I don’t have the energy to care much. If you can’t make the effort – neither can I. That may sound nastily harsh but it really is taking all my strength to do the basics at the moment and I have none to spare.

4 thoughts on “Depression – the black dog – what doesn’t help (even if you think it should).

  1. tamilion66 says:

    If I hadn’t stumbled across your words, I would have thought I’d magically vocalised what I was thinking myself. Just because “you’re the strongest person I know” doesn’t mean we can’t crash & burn too. Most times I find those who think tough love works has had no experience with the black dog. Mine’s barking so loudly now that my silence was shattered, and as a result I was too. But telling me off for protecting myself by isolating myself does not help! Please if only those around us could realise we have told ourselves these things over and over to no avail, maybe they could begin to figure how to help.
    I hope you don’t mind, but I would like to share your words with my friends.
    Blessed be.

    • Thank you. Xxx

      That’s one of the things about this beast. It has the ability to drag you into solitude where you think you are all alone. When someone else suddenly stands up and says “hey that could be me” is almost as if they are saying “there are two black dogs here but let’s hold the leads together – just for this moment – and they won’t tug quite so hard because I’m not on my own as I originally thought”

      Maybe if more of us were heard and not just listened to there would be more people to grab on and we can stand still for a short while.

      Thank you for holding my lead with your reply. Xxxxx

      • tamilion66 says:

        I agree, I have a new support system that kicks me in the pant when I’ve been too quiet – someone who has been there, is still living with the stigma and pain but can see her way to helping me out. I think that this is my lifeline; I would be happy to walk the dog with others to help train them to be more pliant. xo

  2. […] This wonderful piece is so close to what I have been contemplating lately that it could have come straight from my own hand. Depression – the black dog – what doesn't help (even if you think it should).. […]

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