I have prescribed to the idea of depression being described as a “Black Dog” that follows you around in various formations. I always pictured this as a grim hound that froths at the mouth and tries to use me as its chew toy. Now that I have lived with a gorgeous little black dog I have been thinking up other metaphors for my depression.
Many people who have depression describe it as dark, black or debilitating place with no light or air. I have often pictured a deep, dark well with no way out and no light at the top. No matter how much I claw I can’t grasp onto the walls and I have no voice. If I, therefore, had to ascribe some sort of tag along creature it would be a black, oozing blob that sucks away my energy. It would be something that can change its features to incite fear in me, an ever-changing monster. I sometimes picture it as a thick, black shadow hiding itself around my house waiting for the scent of weakness. At which point it can jump out as an ugly, sucking, pseudo ninja and get back into my head. Or follow me around, just out of sight, but never letting me forget it’s there. Every other sense aware of its presence.
I understand that the black dog image is a good metaphor because it is meant to change. It is supposed to be something that you can picture taming. A dog is something that you can train and have some control over. A dog is also dependent on you to live. Is my depression dependent on me to live? If I don’t feed it will it die? It feels like a gross concept.
There is definite merit in ordering the Black Dog around. I can order it into submission by getting a good night sleep, eating well, exercising and taking medication when necessary. The black ooze can usually be washed away. The ghost shadow… umm… can’t survive in bright down lighting? The biggest issue I have with these metaphors is how to order, wash or lighten them when I feel at my lowest point. How do I think straight long enough through no appetite or wanting to binge eat junk food; not wanting to go to sleep and then not wanting to get out of bed; barely any motivation or concentration and irritable or apathetic mood swings. Add medication withdrawals and new medication side affects to that and it’s not likely that I would even be able to tell a trained dog to sit.
So regardless of whether my depression feels like a black dog, black soul sucking ooze or a ghost shadow, I feel skeptical in my current state of depression that I could push any of them around. I currently feel like there is a grim sitting next to me, frothing at the mouth; a black ooze pulling me down to sit and laze about and a dark shadow that follows me wherever I go. I have been told that I just need to “take each day as it comes”. To just take “baby steps”. OF course…I am yet to give up. I just hope I can start to wrangle to black before I reach beyond my limit.