Hey, how have you been? It’s been a while, I know. I pretty much took the month of January off from my blog. Now normally I would apologize and say, I suck. I would offer my excuses that the holidays were a little harder for me than I thought they would be. I would post a cute pic of Sadie to make you go awe and forget you are mad at me for every time you clicked on my blog and saw the same damn post. (Okay, so I did use a cute pic of Sadie, but really, how cute is she? For reals.) But this time, instead of excuses, I want to explain to your dear reader (and I am pretty sure there is just one of you so, you know, thanks) my absence.
I live with depression and sometimes, even when you have an awesome doctor and have hit the prescription jackpot of therapy and medication, depression will still find you. And when you have lived with it for many years you know that no matter how prepared you are to do battle with it, you occasionally must surrender yourself to it. It is a part of who you are. It in no way defines you but it did forge who you have become. Winston Churchill referred to his depression as the “black dog.” A companion of sorts. A creature always nearby, sometimes just out of sight, but always waiting, nipping at his heels. Others used the image of the black dog before Churchill, but it was reading about the statesman that introduced me to the term. And thinking of depression as a dog makes the condition much more manageable for me. There are no ulterior motives with a dog, there is no spite. Depression is not a malevolent creature. It just is what it is. And the most important way of dealing with depression is to acknowledge it, respect it and to even, at times, embrace it.
This past January, I gave myself over to it. Now, it does not mean I walked around sad or pouting. I am pretty sure I was my normal self at work. I did not dramatically break down in tears every ten minutes. Depression is not so much a temporary feeling as sadness but more a state of mind. It is so not that one-dimensional. Depressed people are not constantly crying and Prozac is not a happy pill. The only common trait the various degrees of depression have, in my uneducated mind, is the bone weary tiredness it creates with its constant mental games. I will paraphrase Sally Kempton and say it is [ both exhausting and ] difficult to fight an enemy that has outposts in your head.
So, for the past month, I fought. And I slept. I stayed in more than usual. I read and kept to myself. I thought. I thought a lot. I walked. And just in the past week or so, blessedly, my black dog has retreated and we are living once again in peaceful coexistence.
But, oddly, depression can be as much of a blessing as a curse. It’s true. Any amount of sympathy and empathy that exists in me is because I have experienced depression’s isolation and sadness. I know that I can overcome most anything life can throw at me because, despite my combat fatigue, I have fought depression and I am still here. And I have learned that I am not alone in my fight, some wonderful souls in my life have fought along with me. My black dog reminds me to find the good in a bad situation. He (yes, my black dog is a he, nothing to read into that) reminds me to appreciate the smallest of moments. To savor the simplest of pleasures.
And of course, dear reader, if I did not have depression, I would never have started this blog. To write about elevating many of what often becomes our most mundane tasks of life is, in some ways, my very own, self prescribed, cognitive therapy. And I thank you very much for indulging me.
Okay, fine, I know, I suck.