Its funny, normally I start a blog knowing exactly what I want to say, how to say it and then just tap tap tap away at my keyboard. Today not so much, today is more about how I am feeling, so please excuse me if I ramble on. About a week ago I was having a particularly bad day and started to think about how depression/anxiety can appear without warning from behind a seemingly sunny day. I normally have my most brilliant musings as I fall asleep, which is a problem as it can take me a whole week to remember them. Hence the delay in writing this particular blog about depression, it’s only just resurfaced today.
The great Winston Churchill was all too familiar with depression and named it his “black dog”, following Samuel Johnson (who, like many brilliant people, suffered from depression).On occasion Churchill was so paralysed by despair that he spent much time in bed, had little energy, few interests, lost his appetite and couldn’t concentrate. All common symptoms of depression. These darker periods would last a few months, and then he’d come out of it and be his normal self. The ‘black dog’ metaphor is now commonly used and there are many of us who know what a formidable pooch it can be.
Mine is more akin to a ‘black cat’ winding its way insidiously between my feet, demanding attention and insisting that I listen to its meows of woe. My ‘black cat’ looks all cute and fluffy on the outside, very beguiling in appearance but then suddenly ambushes me with despair, fruitlessness and its ‘end of the world as I know it’ stories.
I try to acknowledge when I am having a bad day, to tell my family that I am feeling crappy for some unknown reason. For me the honesty part is crucial, being honest with myself and being honest with my family. The other alternative is just to respond with ” I’m fine” which I have learnt does not end well for anyone. Spending some time thinking about what is causing that black cat to have reappeared at my feet is key. I try to work through the random thoughts of bleakness, not attempt to find a solution (usually one is not required), to acknowledge the thoughts but give no credence to them. Keeping busy helps me but not so busy that I am ignoring how I am feeling. After many sessions with a councillor, I learnt that keeping busy is a great avoidance strategy and one to be avoided in itself (for me anyway, everyone is different). Some quiet time works well perhaps in the sunshine reading or some gardening or equally curled up in front of the wood-burner. An avoidance of social media is an absolute must. There is no point comparing your internal feelings to the seemingly perfect lives of those acquaintances on social media. Its not going to end well, you are not going to feel better!!
There are many support networks and charities out there and to anyone who is struggling with any type of mental health concerns, I would exhort you to get some support. My personal recommendation is MIND but there are many support mechanisms out there internationally, nationally and in your local area. To quote an already over used phrase………’you are not alone’
Love and hugs from sunny Devon