Churchill’s ‘black dog’ haunted him probably because he was a bit of a racist wanker.
Depression isn’t a black dog: it’s a poisonous, pervasive fog. Sticky, tarry, like treacle only bitter – depression makes even the tiniest action come at a cost. Moving a finger to type a reply to a thoughtful friend. Going to get a drink of water. Speaking words. All seem like useless, pointless wastes of time. And then we are expected to go to work, to interact with other humans who all have their own ways of pushing our – now very exposed – buttons.
Depression isn’t a black dog: it doesn’t require feeding. It’s a virulent disease, triggered by some random event: catching a cold, making a mistake, hearing bad news. Or it occurs spontaneously, when we least expect it. When our minds walk down a seemingly innocent path which turns into a dark, twisted forest with dangers at every turn, no turning back.
Depression isn’t a black dog: you can’t train it, or teach it tricks. It is more feline, coming and going as it pleases. It will not be told by someone else how ridiculous it is. It doesn’t care. It knows it’s a nuisance, a drain on your resources. It doesn’t care. You will trip over it as it weaves between your feet. You will wake up with it sitting on your chest.
Depression isn’t a black dog: it is a vortex that sucks everything in. It is a black hole that prevents you from seeing the outside – you can only see yourself. To others, you are selfish, troubled by even the smallest of minutiae that you can’t seem to bat away.
Depression isn’t a black dog: it is a chemical imbalance. One can become resilient to it. One can rewire the brain, slowly. One can lessen the effect of one’s triggers. One can treat it. But the cruel irony is that to seek help, one must first want to get better. And depression removes all wants. Including, sometimes, the want to live.
I had depression when I was at university. I still struggle with it. People close to me struggle with it. It comes and goes like a cold. Sometimes there are warning signs, like with a migraine. Be the light for someone else. Be patient when they are suffering. Life is hard enough.