65. The Black Dog

Three days ago, the black dog of depression was crouching at my side, ready to tear me apart. I had returned the day before to Buffalo at midnight from a vacation in the Palm Springs area, needed to set an early alarm to be up for construction workers (we had a flood in our house in late January), and was looking at nine days of work piled up that I couldn’t dive into because there was a dishwasher to buy as part of the restoration project. As the day wore on

I was physically tired, mentally exhausted, emotionally drained, and spiritually depleted. My chest tightened and my back muscles started to cramp. My mind was confused and was telling me I was heading back into major depression, and my emotions agreed. I tried praying but found it impossible. What was I to do?

If this had happened two years ago, I would have called my psychiatrist for a boost in antidepressant and anxiety medication. Although I would try to chase the black dog away, he would sense my fear and attack. But my life is different now; I accept he is there and tame him instead of avoiding him, which never worked anyway.

I first dealt with my body by breathing in deeply for an extended period of time, right while I was shopping. My body started to relax. Next I used positive self-talk to assure myself that I had the tools to tame the beast, and depression would not overtake me, while in my imagination I revisited the positive scenes of the Palm Springs visit, which also calmed down my emotions. I was not able to deal with the spiritual side until I returned home; but I knew exactly what I would do, and that calmed me down. I only needed to be patient.

I dragged into our townhome late afternoon, resisted my impulse to tackle all the work I had to do, and plugged into my MP3 player to listen to “Nothing Would I Withhold” by Kathi Wilson, Christian soaking praise and worship music that ushered me into the presence of God and restored my body and soul, and brought me peace, as I knew it would. After an hour of soaking, the black dog was tamed and slinked away on his own.

I used other tools from my toolbox; I have talked about them in earlier blogs. But you get the point. You don’t have to give in to depression if you pay attention to your body, soul, and spirit – and have a toolbox and thought process to tame the wily beast. A 38-hour course entitled “Bipolar In Order Suite” by Tom Wootton completed my picture of depression with its six stages and six categories, and loaded my toolbox with the tools I now use on a regular basis. If you want to know more about the course and how to access a free overview, leave a comment.

About Patrick Day

In 2010, I escaped from four long years of deep, dark depression. This blog shares lessons I learned from those years as depicted in my autobiography - How I Escaped from Depression - as well as other insights about depression and anxiety that only come from someone who has gone through it. When you have a heart attack, you become an expert in heart attacks. When you have diabetes, you become an expert in that condition. As such, I am an expert in depression, with a four-year experiential degree and graduate studies in how to live a life going forward that keeps the ever-lurking Depression at a healthy distance.
This entry was posted in Depression, Living a Spiritual Life, Making Changes in Your Life, Overcoming Depression and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to 65. The Black Dog

  1. Bill Day says:

    Good blog, Pat. Your experience speaks with an authority that concepts don’t have standing on their own. I’m sure your sharing was helpful to anyone who might be struggling with how to put your aforementioned strategies and tools into action. Bro Bill

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