I have mentioned WHO's video entitled "I had a black dog, his name was depression" in the past - and I still think it's one of the best descriptions of depression out there. So I thought I would use it to try and describe my own depression in this post. I would recommend watching the video below (or here on YouTube) before you read on!
"He would surprise me with a visit for no reason, or occasion"
I used to beat myself up about the fact that I sometimes feel down for no reason, even when my life is 'perfect' and has nothing particularly wrong with it. However, with time, I learnt that this is completely normal in depression - it's just a chemical imbalance in my brain.
"When the rest of the world seemed to be enjoying life, I could only see it through the black dog"
I remember feeling abnormal because everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves, and I just couldn't muster up any enthusiasm for life. Sometimes I would think 'why me'; other times I would think that I deserved it. Life would seem bleak and like it could never be better again.
"He chewed up my memory and my ability to concentrate"
Looking back to my darkest times, I can't actually remember them very much. I feel like during those periods I wasn't really there - at the time it was like looking from the outside in. They feel a little bit like a dream, and I don't know whether my memory has been affected to protect me from the emotional trauma that I went through, or because my depression affected it, but it feels really strange looking back.
"Doing anything, or going anywhere with the black dog, required super human strength"
This is one of my biggest problems with my depression. It can be such a huge effort to get out of bed, to wash my hair, or brush my teeth. Even replying to a text can seem like a mammoth task, so getting into hospital every day can pose a huge problem.
"My biggest fear was being found out. I worried that people would judge me"
This used to be a fear of mine, until I started this blog and told the whole world about my depression! I would try and hide it from those around me, and very few people actually knew how much I was suffering.
"The black dog could make me think, and say, negative things"
My perception becomes completely distorted during my really down days - my thinking becomes completely irrational and negative. When I am well, I know that my negative thoughts aren't true and I can rationalise them; however when my depression hits me, I can't see my way out of the darkness and my negative thinking takes over.
"He loved nothing more than to wake me up with highly repetitive and negative thinking"
I find it very hard to get to sleep when I am suffering with my depression, and often have really bad dreams that wake me up at night, which makes it hard to get back to sleep again. This consequently has a knock-on effect on my daytime tiredness, which is magnified by my depression anyway.
"Having a black dog in your life isn't so much about feeling a bit down, sad or blue... At its worst it's about being devoid of feeling altogether"
I have had times when I have sat for about half an hour or more just staring into space, thinking negative - or even suicidal - thoughts, and have not had any feeling towards myself whatsoever. And that is much more scary than feeling sad and upset.
"When you lose all joy in life, you can begin to question what the point of it is"
I guess this is where the suicidal thoughts come in. Life seems so pointless at times when I am really down, and it is really difficult to see a way out of the darkness. Thankfully I have some amazing people around me that manage to drag me out of this slump, and my family and friends always seem worth holding on for.
"There was no silver bullet, or magic pill"
I have learnt that medication, anti-depressants, do not work for everyone. I am currently taking Citalopram, but I don't think I would be as well as I am if it wasn't for my blog and my counsellor too. Different treatments work for different people - and the majority of the time, an anti-depressant won't be the only, or best, answer.
"Black dog days can, and will pass"
I have learnt this with time, by understanding more about my depression and how to manage it. Sometimes I know that I just need a couple of days in bed, and other times I know that I need to turn to someone to help me out a bit. But now, whenever I feel down, I usually remember that the low days will eventually pass.
"I wouldn't say that I am grateful for the black dog, but he has been an incredible teacher"
I really do think that everything happens for a reason, and if it wasn't for my depression I wouldn't be who I am today. I probably would never have started this blog; I wouldn't have met some of the incredible people that I now have in my life; I wouldn't be as empathetic; and I don't think I would have learnt as much about my inner strength. In a way, I am grateful for my depression (although I wouldn't wish it on anyone).
The sign of a beautiful person is that they always see beauty in others.
- O. Suleiman