The Black Dog

Discussion in 'Mental Health and Addiction' started by VoidKarateka, Jan 13, 2018.

  1. VoidKarateka

    VoidKarateka Valued Member

    This is a tough subject for me because for the longest time I didn't want to admit I had a problem.

    To me depression was something that happened to other people. Me? I just got a bit stressed, a bit wound up. I'd find a way to deal with things and move forward.

    Over time I stopped being a teenager, then I stopped being a free and single twenty year old. The seizures started happening and I lost my chance at a military career. All of a sudden I was going to be a dad. All of a sudden all these extra responsibilities started piling up. All of a sudden the seizures came back and got worse and any hope of a normal life was shot down. All of a sudden real life is hitting me over and over with bad stuff and I don't know how to deal with it. I waded through being homeless. Waded through the most mundane jobs imaginable (because hey a job's a job or so they say) and got into big debt trying to just cover bills while I tried to scramble to my feet.

    All the while I spiralled. I don't know where or when exactly it was that I went numb ("flat" as the dpression andanxiety specialist coined it) but it happened. I stopped wanting to get out of bed, more than that it was like I physically couldn't face it. Wasn't engaged in the day, didn't even know what day I was on some days. I snapped at the missus and kids for no reason. Went days without even so much as talking sometimes. My training all but stopped. I gained weight (loads of weight) and felt worse. Lost all sense of purpose. The bad thoughts, the what ifs, the "it used to be better when" scenarios.

    I was feeding that black dog and it was getting bigger. Bigger than me, bigger than everything.

    This happened on and off. Probably about 3 or 4 cycles (seemingly coming out of it and being fine, then gradually getting worse over a period of months) in a six year period. Each time the cycles got worse and my health got worse. If it wasn't for my solid relationship, my amazing missus, I'd have given up. 2016 was the worse one yet. 2016 was the time I went to the doctor and began the process of trying to sort this out. Because of the massive strain on the menatl health services in the UK I didn't actually see a specialist for the anxiety and depression until mid last year.

    I'm glad I did.

    My options were discussed and I've been through a few treatments. I tried medication to temporarily ease things while I was waiting for my referral. That was a huge mistake for me. I reacted very poorly to anti anxiety medication and antidepressants. They seemed to make me worse (which I later found was probably due to the anti epilepsy medication that I'm on for life). Eventually I got to see a specialist from the local mental health team.

    I was put on a 6 week course of treatment which consisted of 1 to 1 sessions. Now a lot of people when they imagine seeing a "shrink" they imagine lying on a couch discussing why they're upset that their dad left them when they were younger. At least that's what I expected. I was near having a full blown panic attack the first couple of times I went. What you actually get is much different.

    You're not put in a room, on a chair to be dissected and examined (most of that is already done to decide your course of treatment). You talk to a person, a normal, real person who helps give you tools with which to stave off the black dog and help you not to feed it.

    I won't go into details but I came away with some fantastic tools. Simple tools that made a big difference to me. At the end of six weeks I was discharged. Was I "cured"? Nope. Depression and anxiety don't just go away. Unfortunately they stay with you and become part of you whether you like it or not. But I have tried my hardest and been fairly successful so far in fighting the bad thoughts off, keeping the darkness out.

    I try my best to starve that little black dog before he becomes too big for me to deal with again.

    Over Christmas and the start of this year I've struggled. The thoughts have been creeping in and a series of crap life events have all just seemingly hammered me all at once and it's been hard to take it all on. Last couple of weeks I've really been slipping. But I've started fighting back.

    I broke my break from the gym (which started about a week before Christmas) and I'm slowly getting a solid routine going with that (I respond well to routine). I'm back at the Dojo teaching , training, and really working hard on some new projects for this year. All in all I'm starting to take a bite out of the new year.

    Those thoughts are still there. Everyday I get them trying to worm their way in and every day I have to give myself a talking to and start running through my checklists, use my tools to fight back. But I'm getting there.

    So the point of this post. I've probably been dealing with mental health issues for around 8 or maybe even more years now. It's only been in the past year that I started to get a handle on it and that was after getting some help.

    The help is there. Go and reach out to someone. You'd be surprised how many people care. Use those services and persevere. If you need anyone to chat to I'm always willing to listen as I'm sure are loads of others.

    Have a good one folks.
    aaradia, axelb, Mushroom and 5 others like this.
  2. aikiMac

    aikiMac aikido + boxing = very good Moderator Supporter

    You're an awesome dude for sharing that.
    It's an issue that I have, too. Never fell (yet) as far as you, but I struggle with it.
  3. Mushroom

    Mushroom De-powered to come back better than before.

    I speak to a lot of people suffering depression, without suffering it myself. And the most common denominator in feeling better is doing exactly what you're doing. Sharing and talking.

    Thumbs up.
  4. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Wish you all the best.
  5. VoidKarateka

    VoidKarateka Valued Member

    Thanks folks. I hope if anyone reads this who's in the same boat then at least they can know it's actually not so daunting to go get the help they might need. I'm fortunate in that my missus really kicked me up the backside to get help and even now keeps me on track.
  6. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    You sound very similar to me. There have been a couple of things that have helped me.
    I'm a "what if?!" person and I try to think of everything that can happen or go wrong and then pre-plan solutions so I'm not caught out or surprised. This means I waste a lot of nervous energy because quite clearly 99% of what I imagine going wrong or happening doesn't actually happen.
    So what I do is document my worries (in a little note book but now in a phone document) and then give myself set time to actually think them through and resolve them (sort it, ignore it, let them go, keep it as a worry but look at it again in 3 months or whatever). So rather than low level background anxiety all the time, that doesn't really solve anything, I have half an hour of intense worry where I try to make it useful and productive. If new worries come up I write them down and know I'll get round to them in the future.
    This doesn't help with short term surprises (car breaks down, kid poorly, unexpected bill, etc) but can help in the long term.
    Good luck buddy and if there's anything you can share that works I'm all ears because like you, this is a long term struggle for me.
    VoidKarateka likes this.
  7. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    I probably should have seen a proffesional 20 years ago.. but anyway. I find a good song can help lift the spirits at times.

  8. Tom bayley

    Tom bayley Valued Member

    Depression, chronic pain, chronic ill health, can all make a person want to withdraw. They can make a person feel that they should not burden other people. Its ok if on some days you want to keep yourself to yourself. But when you do reach out, you find that people do not feel burdened, instead they are happy to have a connection to another human being. We are all fellow travellers.
  9. VoidKarateka

    VoidKarateka Valued Member

    I haven't tried this method yet, but I'll definitely add it to my toolbox. Thanks!

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