He clings to me and is a beast at times, but then I learned to train him otherwise.

Depression can be many things, but it’s often described as feeling consistently ‘down’ or ‘having no energy’. But these are only two of the many symptoms of depression; it’s the smoke and barely the fire.

Although depression affects people mentally, it is painful in its own way. Nonetheless depression can lead to physical harm, which contributes to the pain even more so.

Depression is the mind perceiving the world as negative, forcing us to see predicted situations with a pessimistic perspective. It’s the brain telling us ‘you will be rejected’, ‘you can’t do it’ or ‘you’re not worth anything.’

What is the Black Dog named Depression?

There is a video that circulates the mental health industry, one, which brings light to depression and helps us understand it.

The video ‘I had a black dog, his name was Depression’ describes how the mental illness feels, works and impacts our lives, but also how we can relieve ourselves from it. The black dog is representing depression, and throughout the video, we can see how everything unfolds.

Please see the full video below and then the transcript:

The hidden messages behind the video:

I had a black dog. His name was depression.

Whenever the black dog made an appearance, I felt empty and life seemed to slow down.

These lines talk about how depression first affects someone; the initial feelings are emptiness and lack of energy. These are usually the first symptoms, but they’re not signs, so they often go unnoticed.

He could surprise me with a visit for no reason or occasion.

The black dog made me look and feel older than my years.

When the rest of the world seemed to be enjoying life, I could only see it through the black dog.

This is a deep verse, outlining how depression makes a person see and act differently to those around them. Depression comes unexpectedly and usually at the worst of times.

Depression has damaging effects on physical appearance and abilities as well as our emotional state.

Activities that usually brought me pleasure, suddenly ceased to.

He liked to ruin my appetite.

He chewed up my memory and ability to concentrate.

Doing anything or going anywhere with the back dog required super human strength.

At social occasions, he would sniff out any confidence I had and chase it away.

This mental illness works by eventually making some people intolerable of things they used to enjoy. It takes over all your mental control, making you see the bad in everything and takes away all the happiness and faith you have.

All motivation and fulfilment that people have, is replaced by depression.

My biggest fear was being found out. I worried that people would judge me.

Because of the shame and stigma of the black dog. I was constantly worried that I would be found out. So I invested vast amounts of energy into covering him up. Keeping up an emotional lie is exhausting.

Black dog could make me think and say negative things.

He could make me irritable and difficult to be around.

He would take my love and bury my intimacy.

People with depression are often ‘avoided’ or avoid others, and that’s because people don’t understand the illness. As people stay away from the unknown, people with depression do feel like outsiders. But depression is simply poor mental wellbeing, and everyone can be helped.

He loved nothing more than to wake me with highly repetitive and negative thinking. He also liked to remind me how exhausted I was going to be the next day.

Having a black dog in your life isn’t so much about feeling a bit down, sad or blue…at it’s worst it’s about being devoid of feeling altogether.

As I got older the black dog got bigger and he started hanging around all the time.

I’d chase him off with whatever I thought may send him running.

But more often than not he’d come out on top. Going down became easier than getting up again.

Depression is repetitive and can become a burden, affecting normal everyday things. It’s almost impossible to shrug the feeling and that’s why depression easily takes a hold of someone, changing their personality and outlook on life.

So I became rather good at self-medication…which never really helped.

Eventually I felt totally isolated from everything and everyone.

The black dog had finally succeeded in hijacking my life. When you lose all joy in life, you can begin to question what the point of it is.

Thankfully this was the time that I sought professional help. This was my first step towards recovery and a major turning in my life.

In the end, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts, as people look for a way to stop the pain. This is the crisis stage of depression, and if you notice these signs or someone admits these feelings, it’s important to follow ALGEE.

However, there is always a way out, and this is where the character looks at seeking professional help, which is the start of the recovery journey for people in a depression crisis.

 

depression-blog

I learned that it doesn’t matter who you are, the black dog affects millions and millions of people. It is an equal opportunity mongrel.

I also learned that there was no silver bullet or magic pill. Medication can help some and others might need a different approach altogether.

I also learned that being emotionally genuine and authentic to those who are close to you, can be an absolute game changer.

I also learned that being emotionally genuine and authentic to those who are close to you, can be an absolute game changer.

Most importantly, I learn not to be afraid of the black dog and I taught him a few tricks of my own.

The more tired and stressed you are the louder he barks, so it’s important to learn how to quiet your mind.

This is so important to remember. Depression affects millions of people, and it shouldn’t be a taboo subject. Mental wellbeing can be improved not only through medication, but by learning to control your emotions and talk to those closest around you.

This is where you can make the black dog scared of you, and that’s how you can chase it away. Relaxation, acceptance and perseverance, the black dog is under your control, although he wants you to believe otherwise.

It’s been clinically proven that regular exercise can be as effective for treating mild to moderate depression as antidepressants. So go for a walk or a run and leave the mutt behind.

Keep a mood journal, getting your thoughts on paper can be cathartic and often insightful. Also keep track of the things that you have to be grateful for.

The most important thing to remember is that no matter how bad it gets… if you take the right steps, talk to the right people, black dog days can and will pass.

I wouldn’t say that I’m grateful for the black dog but he has been an incredible teacher. He forced me to re-evaluate and simplify my life. I learned that rather than running away from my problems it’s better to embrace them.

The black dog may always be part of my life but he will never be the beast that he was. We have an understanding. I learned that through knowledge, patience, discipline and humor the worst black dog can be made to heal.

If you are in difficulty, never be afraid to ask for help. There is absolutely no shame in doing so. The only shame is missing out on life.

Last but not least, you can do this. The black dog will feel like it’s consuming you, you may think that there is no way to escape him, but you can, you really can. Although depression symptoms may persist in the background, you can tame the animal in him and train him to keep at bay.

Remember, you can learn to heal him on your own, by exploring self-care and wellbeing, but there are also people that can help you too. 

Depression. Get Help. Be Helped.