MENTAL HEALTH – TAMING THE BLACK DOG
I’ve never been one to shy away from talking about mental health., but for many people who suffer, it’s not as easy.
Depression has played a significant role throughout my adult life. I’ve suffered immeasurably since the age of 18, and until I was 24, I can categorically say that those were the bleakest years of my life.
My brain would fixate on the darkest thoughts imaginable, and ruminate on them 24 hours a day.
They were never-ending and the more I attempted to stop them, the worse they got.
The Stigma Of Mental Health
In recent years mental health awareness has been very much pushed to the forefront with celebrities speaking out about their struggles. Celebrities such as:
- Lady Gaga
- Brad Pitt
- Jon Hamm
- Gwyneth Paltrow, and
- Jim Carrey
And sadly we all know about the fabulous Robin Williams.
It’s a struggle that many people fight alone, a road that seems best walked without others. Sir Winston Churchill even named his struggle ‘The Black Dog’, but even with all these names attached to the condition, it’s not easy to understand.
I have friends who suffer from the condition, whether it’s depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or another form of mental illness, and they have all been met with similar reactions:
- Cheer up, or
- Think of something else
If only it were that easy. Unless you’ve been through it, it’s not easy to understand.
There are many ways my own personal ‘Black Dog‘ attacks me on a daily basis. I walk to and from work, yet in this 30 minutes, I can have numerous anxiety problems, problems I have never spoken about to others.
I’ve recently completed my novel, and without the focus, I’ve since slipped into old habits. I’ve lost interest in many things I enjoy. Nothing seems worthwhile. I feel I’m a hindrance to myself and others.
I’ve stopped doing what I love. I feel:
- Lost, and
I don’t tell people when I’m this way because it feels like I’m burdening them.
Right now I feel confused, unsure which direction I’m facing and at a total loss about what makes sense.
I saw a counsellor when I was younger, and it’s the techniques I learnt then that will help my black dog lose a few teeth, for a while at least.
Even with those techniques, I was unwell for a few more years before something big happened in my life.
Yes, I found the joy of writing.
Writing stories helps me focus when my mental health is heading towards unimaginable depths.
Stopping recently has knocked me off-balance, even starting a new story hasn’t helped. I’ve found it near impossible to muster the enthusiasm, but it’ll come.
I will work my way through this fog, reclaim the things I enjoy and start writing again.
Don’t Suffer In Silence
We all suffer on our own, and mental health problems can happen to anyone at anytime. If you feel like you have no place to turn, remember you’re not alone. People are willing to help you, and they could be closer than you think.
Start with who you know –
- A family member
- A friend
- A colleague
If you don’t feel you can speak to them, the Samaritans Helpline is open 24 hours a day and can be contacted at 0845 7 90 90 90
There are so many places that can help you, whatever your condition, and the Depression UK website is a good place to start. They have an extensive list of organisations who specialise in a large number of mental health fields. You can visit them by clicking here.
See You On The Other Side
For now, my black dog is sitting on the sofa, misbehaving. I’ll come through, it’ll just take a while, but I’ll put him back in his kennel and soon be the real Matt again.