The Black Dog

The Black Dog

As you might be aware I suffer from Depression, Anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD. Collectovely I refer to this as Neg. Neg lives in my bones, in my mind and is an very present part of my life and self. While she is sometimes kept at bay and I can at times keep her calm; she has once again rearing her pretty head demanding to be heard and making my life hellish. Neg makes me question everything, my self-esteem crumbles at the slightest error (including burning toast), logic is of no use and I don’t recognise the person I become. It hurts to breathe. I wake up devastated that I didn’t die in the night and that I keep living in this frozen state. I resent my family and friends for loving me; as this prevents me from taking my own life. I remain myself just enough to understand that killing myself would destroy those I love, as I can recognise that that my life is not mine alone but belongs to those who love me. I feel exhausted and become exhausted trying to be normal, human, functioning adult, trying to pretend that life isn’t a daily struggle. I don’t sleep and when I do this is disturbed by flashbacks of my long forgotten trauma, I find myself hoping somehow for oblivion so I can escape pain of living. I pray for death. For an end to this pain. For a legitimate ‘out’ of life.

I’ve battled Neg since my early teens and I’m 30 this year. Things took a turn for the worse in November last year for reasons I still can’t talk about. I become suicidal and thus begin my usual pattern of avoiding the world until the Neg storm passes and I’m myself once again. I wish I could tell you dear reader* that I will have her under control, but I’m slowly accepting that won’t be the case. I deal with this in a variety of ways, some of which are probably not that helpful (my heavy use sarcasm and black humour have gotten me into trouble numerous times) but they work for me. Additionally here are some more acceptable ways I get help

Medication

Neg is an illness. Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD are not normal and you don’t have to push through. Logically Ii know there is something wrong with my head and medical science theorises that this is due to a lack of neurotransmitters, which results in a lack of receptors for positive emotions. Yes I did just theorise highly complicated issues off into a sentence so please do further research. BeyondBlue is a great place to start.

Admitting you need help is never easy, in fact it’s one the hardest things you can do and it makes you feel incredibly vulnerable. Go to a doctor and get help, future you will thank you. I know I feel better on medication but finding the right balance is a real bitch an ongoing struggle. The hard thing about mental illness and medication is that there is no ‘take this pill and you will be better’; it takes time to find what works for you. For this I’m sorry because it sucks but stick with it. On medication I can handle life and I can enjoy it. I’m hapier and I feel more like me. I’ve come to the realisation I will probably be on something for the rest of my life and if helps me get out of bed I will do it.

 

Counselling and Therapy

I see both a psychologist and a psychiatrist both of whom help me though I find talking about my pain very hard. But sticking with it is a reason I still have a pulse. My mental health team helps me find focus again and as they are not emotionally involved in my life I can’t issue through with them that I can’t with those who I love and who love me. This team (it me helps to picture them as superheroes, though I still think they need a name; ‘Warrior against Neg’; I must keep working on it) allow me to see how far I’ve come and what I’ve accomplished (sometimes this is getting out of bed and that’s it, other days it still working full time; finished university; teaching myself to sew)

 

Goals

I was a goal setter all through high school (thanks to type A personality) but didn’t really get back into this until this year a decade after I graduated. I read Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project” and stole the idea from there. But there is loads of information on the magic of goal setting. While some of this is ridiculous (it’s the internet people take with a very large grain of salt) I find having goals works for me. Keep me focused on the good. While my goals are big and small (take medication appears daily) I find setting tasks to be a great self esteem for me. This blog also helps to keep me focused and refer to this post for some of the ones set for this year, (please check back to see progress but no pressure everyone is busy)

 

Creating

Making things with my hands as been literal life saver for me. Baking helps my mind focus and gives a sense of accomplishment. Plus people like it when you bring show up with cake or biscuits or meringues or cupcakes, just don’t show up with all or people will get worried (true story readers). Cross Stitch and Crochet lets me keep my hands occupied which means I can focus on a conversation, or a TV show and not be alone in my head. Making things gives me both a great feeling of great contentment and satisfaction and ammunition to fight the ongoing battle with Neg in my head; see Neg I can accomplish things because I made this (I know this crazy but I am so I don’t care). Additionally it’s taught my perfections type A self that making mistakes is okay. You pull out the thread or yarn and start again and learn from it. I’ve had such success from crochet and cross stitch that I’ve finally actually started learning to sew, something I’ve wanted to do since I was a child and watched my Nanna make a barbie dress for my Barbie (I was 7 and it had tulle skirt…. it was amazing). I’m not afraid of making mistakes, probably a good thing if you see how my first project turned out and this helps me face the world

 

Music

When I can’t deal with anything I listen to music, the rhythm pounding itself into my head via headphones brings me back. Spotify is great for playlist to match moods but I love this song and it helps. Every. Single. Time.

 

Knowledge

I’ve done so much research on how to help myself and this deserve a more in depth post one day, when I get around to it. Books are a great through of comfort; they taught me I wasn’t alone and I hope this blog can help people with this to. Will do a further post of the books I constantly reread to find hope later this month.

If you a suffering I want you to know you are not alone and please get help. The black dog is a sickness and I believe me I know how low one can get. I wish I could end this on some positive note (and they all lived happy every after) but life with the black dog isn’t like that so here is photo of a strawberry I grew in my little garden patch.

*I’ve always wanted to use the “Dear Reader I married him” line from Jane Eyre but this is as close of gotten so I’m counting it.

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