Eclectic Blue

Return of the Black Dog

Comments Off on Return of the Black Dog 02 July 2017

Return of the Black Dog

It seems I only write about my Black Dog when he returns upon my life. My Black Dog isn’t really a dog at all, but rather a metaphor for my unwanted clinical depression. What never fails to surprise me is how he turns up when I am not expecting him.

It happened again at work last week when suddenly, for no obvious reason, my mood dipped horribly. Suddenly, I had transformed from a relatively happy-go-lucky middle aged man to one who was struggling to peer through the gloom. As the Eagles put it rather well, my legs grew heavy and my sight grew dim, I had to stop, not for the night, but for the day, at least temporarily. It is not a good feeling.

I am one of the lucky ones in many ways. Although my employer does not seem to have any systems in place for those with mental illness other than to ignore it altogether, I am lucky in that I have family and friends who guide me through. Imagine if I was on my own. I can because for decades I was.

This has happened to me for well over 40 years, although it was only relatively recently, say within the last 20 years, anyone medically qualified told me what was really wrong. The previous generation referred to those suffering from mental health issues as having bad nerves or having a nervous breakdown. That wasn’t me then. I was just sad and fed up for rather longer than I should have been. No one told me otherwise. What a shock to discover so late on in life when most of the important life decisions had already been made that they had been made when I was probably not the best person to be making important life decisions. Never mind. What’s done is done.

At least I usually know what’s going to happen when I start going down and those around me can make the appropriate adjustments, minor though they normally are. I certainly don’t want a reduction in banter and piss taking, or anything like that, and it’s mainly at a professional level I need a greater understanding. I did not realise how good the civil service was at that sort of thing until I left and worked for other employers who palpably weren’t.

No one has managed to suggest that I should not be depressed “because everything is so good in your life – what have you got to be depressed about?” Yet. I am a man after all and a relatively old one at that.

The weird thing about my Black Dog is that he is a reassuring presence in a strange way. I know where I am when I am depressed and I know pretty well how it is all going to play out. It’s the certainty of depression that I find, bizarrely, almost comforting. It’s not a very nice part of me – other not very nice parts are also available – but it’s there, just like my love of Steely Dan, Wigan Warriors and Canadian Cheddar cheese.

My legs felt like lead earlier on and I felt I was looking through a fog as I tried to make sense of the day. It’s making a little more sense now but that bastard Black Dog is still here. And he always will be. Worse things, as they say, happen at sea.

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