The best of 2016: The black dog

Never forgotten these words: 

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

Sadly there are too many that are unable to see their way through. We only need look at the events of the past week in the USA – another senseless waste of lives. Will we really know the true reason? No! Probably not. Once again we will theorise, all become experts and blame some other thing or find a reason to, in some way, justify this shooting. That’s not the point of this comment. I do not want to dwell on the negative but the positive of being able to overcome this dark place. This illness that consumes our every living moment. If you tell me that you have never felt the pain of depression, I would find it hard to believe you. You see, we are really human and this is part of our very existence.

Depression is a common experience. I’m sure we have all felt ‘depressed’ about a dear friend snubbing us, being bullied, a marriage that has soured. Fighting teenagers struggling to come to terms with their ways and friends.

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The death of a loved one…the list is endless – sometimes we just feel ‘down’ for no reason at all. For each of us, there could be many ‘pressures’ that influence our lives. Most of the time, it’s often unclear when the depression started, much of the time its effect is gradual. I think that one of the important things is to recognise that nearly every one of us can be stressed and depressed by certain events. Events of this past week that have triggered new found fears in many people.

I recall a couple of months back, the senseless killing at the McDonald’s store in Helensvale on the Gold Coast. A friend of mine, because of that incident following closely on the heels of the 9/11 anniversary, missed her flight to Europe because of a panic attack.

Everyone is effected in different ways. Some are unable to get out of bed and simply face the day. “R U OK” is a campaign that has been put into place to help.

Unfortunately most of us when asked will simply say “Yep, I’m fine thanks!”

The reality of this is that more often than not.. they are crying out from within. Their pain hidden.

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One of the great healers, believe it or not, is music! How many people do you know that have found music to be the soothing, healing influence in their lives?

Some even going to the point of saying they found music better than antidepressants. I would agree. I look at my circle of friends and probably like you, do not give a thought as to their mental well being.

Most are successful, comfortable, in stable relationships and appear content…but are they?

The point here is, we dare not ask because we are scared of offending.

Those truly close will confide, but do our children? Sometimes we just think they are OK.

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More often than not, they are far from OK. Take the time and ask them. It costs nothing. They are precious and need to know that they are OK. It’s a scary thing not really knowing.

Social media has a lot to answer for. These days, it is far too easy to thrust something negative in ones face.

For one thing, we don’t know how that person is going to react.

I for one didn’t read the signs that were right under my nose. I had a long standing friendship with a particular person. I thought that I was being kind and caring and offering to share a coffee etc. What I did not see was the negativity this person oozed all over me, dragging me to an uncomfortable and dark place.

Others saw it and saw the change in me. They kept asking if everything was OK, of course I said yes! I became very negative, lost part of my positiveness and started to fall into a depressed state.

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Thankfully I have some real good friends and they saw a change, but as I said, every time I was asked if I was ‘OK’ I responded with “Of course I am” then, one day a very dear friend pointed out how withdrawn and quiet I had become, not the usual happy laughing Brian they knew.

We had a bit of a conversation and the upshot? I ditched this Mr Negative and have never looked back. Yes, it was hard to let go, but time is a great healer.

Music too! It finally hit me – “KA-BOOM” – there I was full of negativity, beginning to take on his negative personality. Time to get off that train. I did and I haven’t looked back.

This is where it is important to listen to what friends are saying. Lose the pride. There is NO SHAME in reaching out.

The funny thing here is this: when I did go under the train and lose my legs all those years ago, I never for one moment was consumed by the “Black Dog”.

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It was all these years later and took just one negative person to bring me down, or begin to.

Thankfully now, I am free of this and I am forever reminded of the words of Theodore Roosevelt.

Yes…it really works!

Share your thoughts below.

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This piece was originally published on Starts at 60 as ‘The black dog as I see it’. It was one of our most popular contributions by the Starts at 60 community in 2016.

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