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24 Sep 2020, by Mollie

How naming your Black Dog can humanise depression

The Black Dog Campaign was created as a celebration of SANE’s 25th anniversary in order to highlight depression and other mental health conditions, and encourage people to seek help. It has since proved immensley popular and is still growing in strength and numbers of supporters.

Mollie has Biopolar Disorder and writes Learning to Dance in The Rain – a lifestyle blog about mental health and fighting that black dog. Here, she talks about her own black dog experience…

Humanising my depression

Who else has seen SANE’s Black Dog Campaign? It’s been going on for years and they even have a book about it. Its all the about the black dog. The black dog represents our depression. I find it a nice analogy for it, humanising my depression and making seem less of a scary uncontrollable thing. Usually my black dog is a Westie, no idea why it was just what related to me. If you haven’t seen it then I recommend looking it up on the SANE’s Black Dog Campaign page.

So my black dog, I often refer to it when depression is near or taking over. I can often see that dog near or lurking. If you have seen other blog posts on my site recently you will know that lately my life has returned to some form of covid normality and the environment is not great. This has meant that the black dog is out and about again. The little Westie was lurking around outside but now it has grown to a Labrador that is laying in the door way.

Managing the depression

Depression is lonely, cruel and trying to trick you. You isolate yourself and it makes you feel even more alone. It is difficult, dog or no dog. How do we manage it? So I know I am depressed as I am crying a lot, especially for someone who doesn’t cry, more than most. I love to sleep, if I didn’t have a child I probably wouldn’t eat and if it wasn’t for not wanting to share my mood with work I wouldn’t be showering and I would be at home.

Depression up ends your whole life. I know mania is hard and damaging but when depression hits hard I always hope that a manic episode is not far away. Bad right, but I dont want to feel depressed or sky rocket. I just want to have stable mental health. How do you conquer depression though? Meds are a bit of a crazy maze and its all about what works for that person. Meds definitely help me and reduce the severity of my moods.

Stepping back to evaluate

Meds aren’t the solution tho. They are something that can help pave the road to recovery. Recognition of that black dog can be a massive help. This post was started a week ago, when I felt weighed down by everything. But I stepped back, evaluated what may be triggering a depressive episode and planned lots of self care to help me. I looked at what was essential in my life to help me and what could be left to a later date. Now a week later, I’m finishing this post.

The black dog hasn’t gone away but I dont feel it so closely. It’s still a Labrador sitting waiting but its not in the same room its down the hallway or some days even in the garden.

None of this is easy

Sometimes, in life, you just need to remove any tinted glasses you wear whether they are rose or dark. Facing reality is scary but I have learned the hard way that the reality in your head can be much worse than facing what’s causing you pain. Being honest about your life and how it makes you feel (with yourself) then gives you the power to address the issues and start more well rounded self care and cope with the day to day reality.

None of this is easy, it takes time and if that black dog comes back and takes over don’t beat yourself up. Life and the world is a great big mess at the moment and everyones mental health is impacted by it. You dont need to shout from the rooftops your troubles, being honest with yourself can be just what you need.

Humanising my depression helps me to see it more clearly. Maybe it will help you too. Medication is not for everyone and neither is being honest with ourselves. Just keep fighting the storm because you can and will make it through to brighter days. And if you haven’t already, check out SANE and their Black Dog Campaign.


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