Nothing humorous here today folks. Sorry. This one’s part of the UnFunny Files, and it’s been sitting in my drafts folder for a while, as the extremely personal posts sometimes do. I did consider guest posting it out, but my own blog feels like the right place for it. Normal programing resumes tomorrow, OK? OK. The artwork featured is by Katrina Miller.
I have a black dog.
I’m not alone in that, I know. There are many of us, with our own black dogs. Sometimes they come to heel; sometimes they stray far behind us, following our scent. And sometimes, when God is in his Heaven and all is right with the world, my black dog, he stays, tied up, in his kennel.
Just recently, the black dog got out. And, I’m sad to say, he was savage, destructive and caused damage to both people and property. This is no playful puppy, slobbering on slippers and teething on toys. This is a cur, a mongrel, who nips and sometimes mauls the people that I love.
It’s a fraught and pensive thing, the way depression can suck the color from the world, the air from your lungs, the sparkle from your laugh. The crushing weight of a panic attack, of being alone, is a wholly debilitating thing. Impossible to conjure. Almost impossible to imagine, until you are on the very brink of it, teeth chattering, breath teetering from rapid to smooth, as the world closes in and all you can think is how sad it all is, how much pain the entire world is in; how on earth does anyone stand it?
I remember, once, a long time ago, studying at university. A young woman, no older than 20, who had evidently never suffered any form of clinical depression. Presenting to us that, as social workers, we should be instructing people to “Open their curtains, appreciate the beautiful weather!” and to “Remember that tomorrow is a brand new day!”
I recall shifting in my seat. Uncomfortable. Slapped. Patronised. Condescended to. Could she not see, this young woman with her curly hair and her pretty shoes, that she had just hit on the very source of the problem?
When the black dog is loose, tomorrow is a brand new day. Another fucking brand new day. Another fucking day.
The dog, he settles next to you on your pillow. As soon as you wake, he’s all you can smell.
This time, in the crux of the matter- I refuse. I refuse to let the dog take me down. I am 28 years old. I have raged and fought both with and against this black dog for 15 years. I’ve not once been admitted to hospital.
And this will not be the time it happens. Not when I have babies to care for. Not when they need their mummy, here at home.
So I refuse. If I go down, it will be clutching my medication in one hand and the phone number of my psychiatrist in the other. It will be punching and screaming, kicking that dog in his big black head.
And, in the end, I win. The dog, he whimpers, tail between his legs.
This time, I win. But the black dog, he’s a stubborn mutt.
He will lick his wounds. So will I.
And I will tell myself, for the next time he is turned loose.I will be ready.
I say that every time.