Winston Churchill didn’t invent the term Black Dog to describe his depression but he certainly used it. I can understand what he meant but do not recognise it, maybe because I have always considered dogs to be companions that help us through situations rather than some hell-hound snapping at our existence, Maybe there is a need to give depression a personality, something that we can focus on, as a thing to be beaten rather than a nothingness. The metaphor of the black dog I understand but his personality I think, for me, is wrong. Spoiler alert: I am not a doctor or psychologist and so have no credibility in this field, I can only comment on my own personal experiences.
It is easy to confuse depression with other moods, like sadness, The death of a close friend or relative will bring intense sadness. As I wrote in The Picture, it is to be expected. Those times are bad and we must recognise them for what they are but they are not, in themselves, depressive.
That is why the metaphor of the ‘Black Dog’ does not work for me, it is not a single thing that occurs, to be beaten, although it may be a single event which triggers an episode. I see depression as more of a ‘black fog’, a mist that forms and creeps up unnoticed until we are surrounded and feel consumed.
I have suffered from depression as I said in my ‘About Me’ page. Is it bad? Compared with others probably not. Have I got over it? Yes, maybe, although long term I doubt that I will ever be free of it entirely.
The other reason I think of depression as a black fog is that is comes up on you with age, along with other things like weight gain. Slowly but surely over the years depression seems more present and weight seems harder to shift. It was weight gain that in the end prompted me to do something. All the fad diets in the world are worthless. Dieting, I have found, is actually easy, it come down to two words – eat less. And exercise. In four months of eating less and swimming I lost over fifty pounds. I felt great not just because of the weight loss but also the sense of achievement. That made me feel better about myself, and the symptoms of depression decreased.
Many people suffer serious mental conditions and I am not comparing my self with them but small changes in a normal functioning person who suffers from depression can make a big difference. There are many things which cause depression and many of them are able to be lessened by yourself. And the best time to start was yesterday.