Most people are aware of my black dog Huxley. He is an adorable Cocker Spaniel that means the world to me, even though he steals my food and sits on my sore and aching joints. But very few people are aware of my other black dog. The invisible one that I, and many others like me, have. It’s another name for depression and sadness.
It is impossible to go through such difficult changes in life and constant pain without finding a black dog of your own. This one is not the friendly, adorable, slobbering, comical kind though. He is an all encompassing, heart breaking, soul crushing, hard to bare shadow that can sneak up on you and devour you at your weakest moment. He will attack at any time and he eats your soul.
I have had a visit from him many times and I know he will come again. He may be waiting for me at my next specialist appointment, the next missed celebration or at the next set back and flare. He waits. He watches. Always ready to pounce.
I am lucky in that my black dog never stays for long. He comes and goes reasonably quickly. He has never stayed longer than a few weeks. But they are very hard weeks indeed when I must battle him and my body at the same time.
There are a lot of people out there that say counseling is the answer. I have no doubt that it may help some people, but I have not been one of those people. After a few sessions of “write down how you feel in a journal… take a walk (??? I mean, Hello!) and try doing things for others” (already done that so many times) …. It can then lead to a discussion about taking anti depressants and how I feel that I take enough drugs as it is and do not need MORE side effects thank you very much. – (Please Note: This is my personal view and not a statement on Anti depressants)
So I go cold turkey. I fight alone. The black dog and I meet again and again.
Does that mean I no longer know happiness? Does that mean I am a depressed mess wallowing in despair? Does it mean I see no future and just emptiness in all I do? Does it mean people should feel awkward and take pity on me?
No. It means I am human and doing my best to cope with a painful, life long, (currently) incurable disease.
The black dog will come again and it will hurt and make me cry; a lot.
But I have 4 other dogs, 2 cats, one husband, great friends/loved ones and millions of other sufferers who will see me through until he goes again. That is the truth of these diseases and so that’s why I need to write about it. It’s not easy to talk about these topics but there is nothing easy about surviving Autoimmune Illnesses. It’s one day at a time. A game of survival.
Will the black dog defeat me in the end. No. Will I defeat him. No. But we will know each other very well and respect each other too. I know how strong he is and he knows how strong I am too.