The Black Dog of Doom and other melodramas

Source: newenglandfolklore.blogspot.com

I have a confession to make.

I’m struggling with depression.

It isn’t easy to admit it and I’m not proud of the struggle but it is important to admit it, today of all days, because today is the year anniversary of my struggle.

 

 

 

 

This was not a depression brought on by age, by chemical imbalances in the brain misfiring through natural causes. This was a depression that was done to me. It started suddenly on one day and hasn’t ended since.

The shame comes from the fact that I am a happy-go-lucky kind of guy – I see the glass half-full not half-empty for most of the time. I don’t do depressed and I really don’t know how to handle it; it is a new experience for me and I feel very much the amateur. I’m learning fast but depression seems to be a changeable beast and no sooner do I think I’ve got some aspect of it sorted than it changes shape and takes me by surprise all over again.

I say this was done to me and that’s true. A trauma, 2nd July 2014, happened to me and to my family. I’m not ready to talk about it (not yet anyway) though one day there will be a book, I promise. That book will reveal all and will point blame where it should be pointed, but it is far off and for now this will remain a private grief. But it happened and it was devastating.

The result of this trauma, however, is that I feel my mind and my character has been violated. My very being has been raped. My virginal naivety has been taken from me, forcibly and irrevocably. And those very thoughts and feelings which come to abuse victims have come to me afresh. I feel waves of guilt, of unworthiness, of being unlovable, of simply not being good enough. They’re not constant and I know they’re not true (mostly anyway) but sometimes they come anyway no matter how much I say “out damned spot!”

There is no reasoning depression away and it can attack without warning (Source: http://www.menshealth.com)

Most of this I can cope with. Once I realised the effect the antidepressants were taking things improved. The tablets cause drowsiness so I always take them at night but that meant they were losing their effect by mid-afternoon and by evening I would feel low and awful waves of paranoia again. Once I understood this and appreciated the effect I was able to start feeling in control and regulating what I did and what I said. But that was before the black dog really hit.

It came all of a sudden a few weeks ago. The ‘black dog’ was  like a thick blackness which simply enveloped around me and no matter how much I analysed and appreciated that it wasn’t real I couldn’t shift the awful despair which almost physically blinded me. The blackness stayed with me for days – something unheard of in my life prior to this – and it was nearly a week before I felt happy again.

Since then the dog has come to me several times. Most of them I’ve kept it from doing anything worse than nipping at my heels. Medication has been changed twice to some effect at least. Keeping busy has been the most useful tactic however.

What I struggle with the most though is the utter powerlessness I feel when it comes. This isn’t me; this isn’t who I am; I know myself and I know myself well. My self-esteem doesn’t come from inside me and doesn’t rely on me(something my therapist has been quite impressed with as a coping mechanism) – and that has kept me from any thoughts of suicide. For me, it doesn’t matter if I really am as crap as I tell myself I am when the fog descends because my self-worth doesn’t come from telling myself I’m any good in the first place. Where it comes from doesn’t matter for this post but it keeps me going through everything.

But this depression has tested it to the extreme. I don’t like the lack of control when it comes. It is a foreigner to me.

There is, however, always a silver lining! When you’re at rock bottom, for a start, the only way is up! Another thing is discovering that the majority of friends and family who I’ve told have been wonderfully supportive and have encouraged and uplifted me. Even when that ‘black dog of doom’ is telling me to give up and die I know that I am loved and cherished and I’m grateful for that knowledge. It isn’t something I take for granted. Humour is another saving grace. Even over-hyping ‘the dog’ helps minimise it – I picture it more like a Disney cartoon dog than a mental Hound of the Baskervilles.

For most of the time, between me and the medicines and the coping strategies and the support network I have, I keep the dog under lock and key – or at least on the leash. And each day the melodrama going on in my head gets a little less, a little tamer, a little more predictable. One day it might just be a puppy.

Love me, love my depression (Source: http://www.zastavki.com)

 

About D K Powell

British freelance journalist, author, writer, editor, musician, educational consultant. I lived with Wifey, Thing I (daughter) & Thing II (son) in Bangladesh for 5-6 years working for an NGO called LAMB. Wifey led the Hospital Rehab department and I used to teach O levels at the school before going full-time as a freelance writer in 2013. Now we're back in the UK learning how to be British again. When not writing or editing, I'm busy trying to complete a Masters degree in Intercultural relations in Asian Contexts and reading way too many books at once. I also drink tea - lots of it.
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38 Responses to The Black Dog of Doom and other melodramas

  1. Pingback: Catch-up before the year ends | kenthinksaloud

  2. Pingback: Homeschooling a girl: the courses have arrived! | kenthinksaloud

  3. archecotech says:

    Hi Ken,

    Wow, you took me back to a time when I was experiencing the same thing. It was “Hell”. The worst part of my depression was it was of my own making. I felt like I was on the railroad tracks of hopelessness and despair heading for a train wreak, got to admit I was scared. I cried out in silent prayer waiting for an answer, none came. Then slowly I understood that my depression was an alert that something was wrong with my life. It took a lot of internal reflection which caused some torment since it was not easy to access what was really going on and the battle started.

    The end result was I won, so will you. On the other end I felt beat up but not broken, like an athlete who had gone into intensive training, damn hard but so worth it. All I can say is thank God for family. Otherwise it might have been much worse.

    Peace be with you my friend.

    Steve

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Maricel says:

    As with my friend Teddy, I find it a struggle to find the right thing to say to people with depression. I know it’s tough and scary but it is my utmost hope you will strive the hardest to keep the black dog on its leash. Keep fighting the good fight, warrior! Sending you my love and support.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Laika Nautan says:

    So many times in my life i thought world left me behind and can`t even understand myself. Then comes a time when i selfishly think that im the only person whose going on through with this but to my realized , its just small compare to others who suffered so much. I understand how it feels like in this situation.

    And thank you, even in your darkest day, you were also there for me. I know you can pass this through like i did. There`s still green pasture on the other side.
    Cheer up Ken!

    Like

    • D K Powell says:

      Oh Laika your words have really touched me today! It has always been my pleasure and privilege to be there for you and never a burden. When I have the support of dear friends like you I have no doubt I will get through my black days and messages like this DO cheer me up considerably. In fact I think it is unlikely that this black dog will be able even to growl at me today thanks to your kindness🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ray says:

    Through your blog, you’ve been so open and honest about so many things–reading your posts, it’s often struck me that I have more insights into your life than I do about many people who are ‘closer’ (in any sense of the word) to me, yet I don’t even know what your voice sounds like.

    Still, this post seems exceptionally courageous to me. I wish you and your family only the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D K Powell says:

      Thank you Ray – that was actually very uplifting to hear. I’ve always tried to wear my heart on my sleeve so it is nice to hear that this is coming across. Thank you for your good wishes and kind words🙂

      Like

  7. jacqui7272 says:

    A Very powerful piece of writing that certainly resonates with me. Thank you for the reminder that the only way is up…. I constantly forget that there’s a silver lining… One of the side effects of depression I guess.
    And you ARE loved very much and you WILL get better….We Both will. Just keep looking forwards to the day of the cute puppy. Take care my friend xx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. David says:

    Ken. Powerful and very personal. Leaves me a bit speechless. Courageous of you to speak about you feelings in such an open way. I haven’t known you too long, however, it has been a real pleasure meeting you and working with you on the campaign. What you and many others suffer should never be seen as a weakness. It’s part of who you are – no matter how difficult an affliction it may feel. You have amazing talents – music, wordsmith. Anyway. I hope we do meet again – some sunny day. Stay strong. It’ a fine pleasure knowing you. David W

    Like

    • D K Powell says:

      Thanks David that’s very kind of you. It has been a pleasure knowing you and working with you and I too hope we will meet again. Though hopefully through happy chance rather than the sad and frustrating one we’ve worked on so hard.

      Like

  9. AdiC says:

    I had no idea you were having such a difficult year. It requires a lot of courage to actually write this on the blogging platform and shows that you have what it requires to fight this demon. Please take care🙂
    Happiness lasts only in bursts. But so does sadness!🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • D K Powell says:

      Yeah it’s been a hard year – a hard two years including leaving Bangladesh and still coming to terms with the grief of that. Thank you for your encouraging words – they are truly appreciated🙂

      Like

  10. I’m so proud of your courage! This is a journey that you won’t have to face alone and you will beat this.. It’s not an easy thing to deal with I know, but we are all here for you.. Can’t get rid of us that easily!🙂
    Here’s to the future.. It gets better.. I promise..🙂

    Like

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hi Ken,
    Im struggling with depression myself. Took me a long time to admit how badly, and in the end it all came tumbling out in one big meltdown. So im off work, trying to make sense of it all. Your blog just helped me with that, so thankyou for being brave and sharing this with us! I hope the struggle gets easier for you, keep blogging, and put the black dog in the kennels for a while. Jane

    Like

  12. Paul says:

    Hang in there Ken, your writing also helps me.

    Like

  13. Yvonne Williamson says:

    Good luck with this, Ken… you will come through it, I know.

    Like

  14. ken PS need to also mention, monitor your self talk and take control of it.
    doug

    Like

  15. Ken – sorry about the depression, its a booger. I’ve had two. glad youre on the med, it often takes adjusting of dose and timing, and sometimes changing meds or adding another.
    if I may also suggest -exercise, exercise, and exercise, and get outdoors. you may not feel like it but do it anyway – thats part of the treatment. and your writing is good too.
    this too shall pass
    best wishes
    doug

    Like

  16. Here’s to it soon becoming a puppy!
    Sending you my positive thoughts and a smile 🙂

    Like

  17. Sending you support from a fellow sufferer (although mine is of the chemical imbalance sort). I know it’s horrible when people offer advice that ‘worked for them’ (I hate it especially as a parent!) and it may not work for event-caused depression (and again – thinking of you) but my GP suggested vitamin B6 in high dose (10mg or similar such as you get in a Berocca vitamin drink) for that week of the month when the antidepressants don’t cut it for me. I have to say it works for me, especially with the other usuals (brazil nuts, oily fish). Maybe it could help the afternoon dip?
    Take care and stay strong. X

    Like

  18. Anonymous says:

    Depression is a bastard however and whenever it hits, I too always classed myself as a polyanna positive person so the grey fog came as a shock. Mine too because of an event. But you know what, you are right, the o ly way is up. Recognising that you have it, and that you will have bad days is half the battle. .. But you will have good days. Lots. Of them. Keep drinking the tea, taking the tablets, and hopefully soon there will be more. Light than dark x

    Like

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