The Black Dog

I am blessed and cursed to be owned by 2 black dogs.  One is called Joey and he’s a 10 year old black Labrador Retriever, who makes me laugh every day (except when he’s stealing my sandwich!)

The other ‘black dog’ is the one I share with the late Winston Churchill.

Now, if you know me, you’ll probably say I’m a bright and happy person.  Well, that wasn’t always the case and still isn’t, to some extent, today.

In the year 2000 I was made redundant from a job I loved, and my marriage was failing.  I’d found new employment, but it wasn’t the same as my old job.  I found myself crying in the office one day, just because an office junior was borrowing my desk.  I realised this was fairly irrational behaviour and went to the GP.  This is where my relationship with anti-depressants started.

Over the years that came, I finally received a diagnosis of EUPD too, but it was the depression that was causing havoc!

Many of us who’ve been on medication know that it’s not always easy to find the right drug (s) for you.  I suffered as I was titrated off one med and eased onto another.  I certainly wasn’t anywhere near ready to work – I was pretty much operating like a computer in ‘safe’ mode to be honest.

Luckily, with the help of my psychiatrist, I was put onto a combination of three anti-depressants that keep me (relatively) stable today.

Let me clear something up – anti-depressants are not ‘happy pills’ – they don’t magically make you happy.  For me, they kind of level off my moods, so I don’t feel desperately sad, but it’s not often I enjoy a real ‘belly laugh’ either.

During the few weeks since I started writing this blog, the ‘black dog’ returned good and proper.  With it came depression’s partner in crime … anxiety.  If you’ve suffered from depression and anxiety, you’ll probably not be able to say which one is worse.

So, what did I do when the depression re-emerged?  I licked my wounds so to speak, then got a phone appointment with my GP.  That went ok – although I’m on the maximum dosage of anti-depressants, there wasn’t a magic pill!  I got blood tests taken, which all came back showing I’m a healthy person.  So I started thinking about lifestyle:

  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Connecting with other people and even sharing with people how I was feeling

And this is where Kind Mind Community’s new Depression Peer Support Group comes in – the 1st session was this Monday and it felt ok – it felt more than ok.  Sitting round the table with other depression sufferers, knowing I’m not alone, that others feel the same.  It’s not a depressing group, either.  There

’s something about experiencing the illness alongside other people – getting hints & tips from them, sharing empathy and building strength and resilience, together.

The group isn’t meeting on Bank Holiday Monday, but is back on every Monday from 9th May, from 12-1 pm at Big Local, Jarrow.  I wouldn’t wish depression on anyone but, if you do have it, you’d be very welcome at this Peer Support Group.

Just to end on a quick thought, next time you ask someone how they are and they say “I’m fine”, just bear in mind they may be wearing a ‘mask’ – us depressives are good at that ?