Wednesday, October 28, 2009

That Bastard Black Dog.

I thought it might be a time to do a bit of sharing with blogworld.

With Mental Health Month drawing to a close, I have my own personal story to share about mental illness. Now more than ever, Australians are experiencing mental health issues of all varieties. Its still a little taboo to discuss, as most people who haven't experienced a mental illness themselves cannot relate to those suffering. Being unable to relate is the main cause for misunderstanding..... in my humble opinion!

As a preface to sharing this story, I would like to explain that my other half and I call my illness 'the black dog' as do many others. It makes it easier to talk about. A lot of the time in our house it is also referred to 'that bastard dog,' and other much less flattering names......

Since I was a little girl, I have been prone to worrying. Sometimes just the usual fears, like the safety of my family, monsters under the bed. You get the idea.
As I got a little older it continued into things such as worrying I was being talked about at school, or if my boss at work was in a bad mood it was because of something I had done. It didn't seem out of the norm for me. I just assumed everyones thoughts paddled around in their minds in the same way that mine did.

One morning, out of the blue, I woke up with a lump in my throat and a knot in my stomach. It was a feeling of pure dread, the kind you get when you need to break some terrible news to your best friend, or break up with a lover you know does not suspect heartbreak is approaching.

This feeling came and went for the next few months. Mostly I was able to get on with life, pushing this feeling to the back of my mind....

Several months after this, I felt myself slide into a strange abyss. It was like standing over a black hole and staring down into its depths, and all that the black hole contained was utter despair.
I couldn't sleep at night, and I couldn't stay awake during the day.
I cried a lot, but not because I was sad.
I couldn't answer my phone, or open my mail, because I was scared. Of what, I didn't know.
I couldn't get out of bed, it was just too hard a task.
I sat for hours, staring into space. Not seeing, not hearing, only feeling this terrible knot of fear.

I knew something was really wrong with me. I just didn't know what that 'thing' was.

Sitting in my doctors office trying to articulate to her what it was that was 'wrong' with me was the hardest, most terrifying thing I have ever done in my life.
Sitting there listening to her tell me exactly what was 'wrong' and this is how we can fix it was the most liberating thing I had ever heard in my life.

I have anxiety and depression.
I take medication to treat my 'black dog.' I don't talk about it with others not because I am ashamed, but because it is just so hard to put together the words to explain what I experience.
But what I can explain easily, is that I am the happiest now that I have ever been in my life.
The bastard dog pokes his little head up every now and again, but now I have the tools to piss him off.

Don't be afraid to ask for help.
It does get better.


  1. I think you are absolutely right, in that people just don't understand if they have never experienced it or been there with someone who has. And it is important to share this stuff, and make people understand. I live with someone who has battled with the bastard black dog many a time, and it is important to share. Good on you! x

  2. Thanks for sharing Sar. Two years ago (by pure chance or mistake) my GP diagnosed me with black dog syndrome. Finally I knew what was wrong with me. It takes guts to communicate what other people have no concept or even empathy for. It's hard to live with....especially those 000 calls I've made. The one in the office was particularly embarrassing. Thankfully I live with the most tolerant girl in the world.

  3. Such a brave thing to share Sarah. Have been wondering if depression is what I'm trying to battle. But hoping that it's mostly menopausal madness instead! :)

  4. Well you are not alone...bloody prick of a dog as visited here from time to time! x