There’s a big black dog lurking and I don’t like it

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So.

I have a history of depression.

I was depressed pretty much permanently from my mid-teens to my mid-twenties, when I finally had the wherewithal to realise that my normal probably wasn’t all that normal.

Too intimidated to talk to my doctor (I’d been laughed out the door when I’d raised it before), I instead signed up for a medical trial at Kings College, where a psychiatrist assessed me and said, yes, I was depressed – and not just a little bit first-world-problems depressed, but really really top of the chart severely fucking depressed.

That explained some things. The self-harming activities.  The constant crying.  The days when I cowered in the corner of the bedroom banging my head against the wall screaming hysterical and afraid to leave the room.  The terror and the catastrophising and the hollow emptiness inside.

I was ill, apparently.

So Kings College gave me drugs, and I was very fortunate that the medication that I was randomly assigned through the trial was effective from the start (it doesn’t always work from that).  I got to talk to a research assistant every week, and tell her how I felt on a scale of one to ten and how much I felt like hurting myself from one to ten and how much enjoyment I could muster for everyday things from one to ten.  One week I realised I could bring myself to read something again and that felt like a substantial breakthrough.  The big black fog was lifting.

Unfortunately underneath the big black fog was a thick white fug.  The drugs took away the horrible feelings, but they also took away most other feelings too. I was adrift disconnected from life.

But still, the fug was better than the fog – Mr Churchill’s black dog.  For one, it was much easier to pretend to those around me that all was well at sea.  I never raised my illness with my family, or very many of my friends.  I couldn’t admit my weakness; I couldn’t share my shame.  I felt my depression was somehow my fault.

Fast forward five years of drugs, and three years of therapy.  Things were really looking up: I’d worked and worked and worked and cleared through so much shit; the fog and fug were gone and I FELT and I felt strong and self-assured.  My crazy pill dose had been pushed to minimal and my counsellor assured me the end was in sight.

But then, but then a HUGE MOTHER-FUCKER RELAPSE.

When I was bonkers all the time, an especially foggy spell didn’t feel much more terrible than usual.  I felt like shit most of the time anyway and didn’t have high expectations.

But when I was feeling well, and the black dog pounced, it floored me.

I was paralysed.

In the bad old days, I could almost always somehow drag myself into the office. This time round, I exploded in a flood of hysterical tears in front of my boss (who I must note, was exceptionally lovely) and didn’t go back to work for six weeks.

In the bad old days, I kept my illness a secret.  This time round, I shared with them all.  My parents. My inlaws.  My lovely youngest brother as we walked through a yellow field in the muted autumn sun.  And lo and behold I wasn’t rejected; I was wrapped up with love in return.

And then I got better and better and then really really better, and with an almost alarming alacrity I was off the drugs and over the counselling and up the duff and feeling amazing. And despite the fears of the consultants there wasn’t a snifter of prenatal depression or postnatal depression and I was fine I was well I was great.

But eek, it’s now and something has shifted.  And eek, things don’t feel quite right.  I fear a black dog’s lurking out in the shadows and I am fucking terrified he’s got me in sight.

I am arming myself.

PS: It transpires that while I was writing this, my husband prepared a couple of surprises for me.  The first surprise was this:

Surprise 2 (2)

I’ll share the second surprise with you another time, but for now let it be known I officially have the best husband in the world.]

[PPS to lighten the mood further, I suggest you read this immediately - the best description of depression I have ever encountered (seriously - read it - you'll laugh).]

6 thoughts on “There’s a big black dog lurking and I don’t like it
  1. Pingback: Surprise Guest Post | Lotte Lane

  2. Isn’t it just awful, horrible, nasty, when you can feel ‘it’ lurking in the shadows? I do feel empowered that I can spot the symptoms and know how to kick them away pretty darn quick! I pity the poor sods who are plodding along and ‘bam’ they get hit for the first time…

    • Deffo with you on that! Yes you’re right, being able to spot symptoms is empowering. Plus having self care tricks up your sleeve helps a helluvalot too!

  3. Pingback: Honesty is the Best Policy | Lotte Lane

  4. Pingback: Why I hate talking about depression | Lotte Lane

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