Taming the black dog

Today is the Ides of September and clearly it is an excuse of a day to make some changes.

Of late, I have been plunged into a state of gloom.

A heavy black cloud has descended without warning, for no particular reason, and illogically and irrationally I have been unable to see my way out.

Oh, I play the game of illusion well.

No one sees beneath the clown make-up, but under the surface lies guilt at not forcing myself out of my funk, irritation with the world generally and self-hate for succumbing to my lazy self-pitying dark side.

I need to be gentle with myself, for the world in its mad pace won’t detect what it does not want to and act accordingly kind.

I am in a dark melancholic place wherein the world appears to be a bleak uncompromising planet, but by acknowledging my humanity and articulating this malaise, I can realise that I am not alone in this feeling.

Others have been there too.

I might not at times to be able to see a gap in the clouds but the knowledge that I am not the first to lose my way helps to keep me going as I wait for the clouds to pass.

American novelist Richard Yates would spend hours staring blankly at the wall in a state of catatonia.

Ernest Hemingway was plagued by depression and drank heavily.

Winston Churchill described the depression that haunted him for much of his life as a “big black shaggy smelly dog”, as if it were something separate from himself, as a useful way of distancing himself from his depression so that it didn’t define who he was.

Most of us can see the dog, but are afraid to mention it, as there is such a stigma and taboo surrounding mental health dysfunction.

We dance around the dog and his malodorous presence.

Maybe the solution is to encourage others, thereby touching my own soul and reassuring myself.

Maybe if I offer solace and companionship to others I will find the solace and companionship I myself need.

I need to remember that when I feel unhappy that others can see the potential for lightness in me, even when I can’t.

I will rise above the sadness.

I will find a way.

It’s always darkest before the dawn, but the sun always rises again.

I take great comfort in sunrises.


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