Moving Away from the “Black Dog” Depression Metaphor
The term “black dog” is often used in conversations about depression. For many people, this metaphor describes a state of depression characterized by sadness or lack of will, including the loss of desire to partake in activities you once loved. This metaphor can be helpful for adults and children living with depression and those with loved ones experiencing symptoms. The image of a large, intrusive black dog may more clearly identify the often difficult-to-see aspects of depression.
Depression has been something that I have had to deal with ever since being a teenager.
It can strike at any moment from any quarter, and only my God and I have been able to help me overcome this insidious intruder into my life.
At the age of 16 was my very first encounter with this enemy. How did I deal with it? I took time out from my regular activities and sought the assistance of my creator through prayer and study and in solitude.
Depression Returns With A Vengeance
It hit again many years later with a vengeance when the venture I had been involved in with a relative soured, and I resigned my directorship of the company. I had allowed my personal identity to be entirely consumed by that venture, and when the venture was removed I lost my identity with it, and this led to a period of deep depression.
Financial collapse has led to depression. Loss of clarity of purpose has led to depression. Doubt in myself has led to depression. Fear of the unknown, and yielding to that fear has led to depression.
No one can help you when you are consumed by such darkness, and at times I have been enveloped by such bleakness for days and even weeks.
How I Deal With The Black Dog
And yet how have I learnt to deal with such attacks?
I read the Psalms and I empty my thoughts, my doubts, my pains, my concerns, my misgivings, and my fears onto the pages of my journal.
Unashamedly I download from my brain onto a blank page. I question. I argue. I speak strong words to my creator, and yet through it all I find a slither of light – a small beam of hope – and from this deepest, darkest time I rise up stronger with a fresh resilience and strong conviction to press on, to push forward, and to take action.
In addition, to fend off a bout of depression I have found it important to take out time at regular intervals from my daily routine – away from work, from family and even friends to reconnect with my vision and re-identify my purpose – for this is the compass that guides, the engine that empowers, and the fuel that sustains me throughout my life’s journey.
But the one thing that I have always learnt is that for every dark day the light will ultimately shine through for those who press through and persevere.
Feelings are fragile and fickle, whereas faith in God and faith in yourself are essential to drive away the black dog of depression.
As a writer I now – whenever facing my own personal challenge – write to help others who may be facing their own challenges. And by helping others I often help myself.
Some More Black Dog Tips
So here are some tips to help you overcome your battle with depression.
- Recognize it for what is is – depression is real.
- Know that darkness will pass. Following every night is a new dawn.
- Take action. It is so important to find a way or a place to vent your frustrations and your concerns. Winston Churchill turned to painting. I have turned to writing. What will be your outlet, and your release valve?
- Seek out how to help others – even as you continue to battle with your own darkness. By helping others you will in fact help yourself.
- Always know that like the man who had no shoes that there was another who had no feet. There is always someone else who is by far worse off than you. So seek out something, no matter how small it might be – and say thank you with a heart full of gratitude.