Saturday, 15 May 2021

How many dogs do I really need?

Chrissie and I have two beautiful dogs; a red boxer and a chocolate labrador retriever. I also have another dog, who mostly lurks in the dark recesses of my  consciousness. This one's most definitely Black (with a capital B). Most of the time he remains hidden but, over the past few weeks he's been creeping out of his hiding place, nudging me. I'm known as a dog lover, but I can't say I love this one.

Four years ago I wrote this. It's perhaps best to give it a quick read to understand where I'm coming from here. I've had a long battle with depression and, in recent years, I've mostly won. But right now I feel I'm on the losing side. 

For some time now I've begun to notice unhappiness as my default mode. On the face of it I've nowt to be unhappy about. I have a loving wife, two gorgeous soppy dogs, a wonderful daughter and son-in-law and two beautiful grandchildren. But, that's not how depression works. It defies logic. It ignores all the positives in your life and builds any negatives into great, big, hulking monoliths which overshadow everything good. I wake in the morning feeling there's no reason to get up. I list problems in my head. I don't look forward to doing the things I should enjoy. I just can't be bothered, with anything. Life has become a chore. 

I feel low. I want to cry.

Having been here before, I recognise the problem. I know the signs. So, after much thought, I phoned my GP a couple of days ago. And after the briefest of telephone consultations I'm now on anti depressants again, for the first time in around seven years. I have every expectation that this will help realign the stuff that's going wrong in my brain. I can't pretend I really understand how it works but, in the past, it always has. The drug takes a couple of weeks to show its effect though.

It's not just me suffering either. Chrissie has to handle the effect of living with someone who's low and miserable all the time. She knows me so well but it's not easy for her.

Right now, I'm trying hard to fill my time. I have absolutely no doubt that the pandemic has a part to play in how I feel and I'm pleased to say that I'll be going over to see my Dad in Wetherby on Monday, and, since this coincides with the re-opening of restaurants, I have a booking for lunch in one of his favourite eateries. I've not seen him for months. Next Saturday, Abi, Dave and the children are coming for dinner, INSIDE! Again, the first time in months. It will be so lovely to have them all here.

As before, I write this in an effort to break the stigma of the concept of depression and anxiety. They are valid illnesses and can be as disabling as a broken leg, maybe even more so, being so difficult to understand. 

Ironically, its the end of mental health awareness week right now. So, if you too meet with the Black Dog, I wish you the strength to better understand what's happening to you. Go easy on yourself and talk about it to someone. Similarly, if you know anyone who suffers, treat them with kindness and compassion and do your best to understand.

I've added pics of the things in my life that still can make me smile.

Love and peace to you all.