The black dog as I see it 40



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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.

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.

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.

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.

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”.

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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Brian Portland

Broadcast Journalist.. Australasian Correspondent FSN Washington & London. Speech Writer..Motivational Speaker.. Production Voice Specialist.. Creative Writer.. (Speech, Print, Radio & Television) Double above knee amputee.. Motivational Speaker..(Available for any speaking engagement..)

  1. Its different for everyone. I have suffered from clinical depression for most of my life, I take medication, without which I just don’t function.
    If I were to make any sort of suggestion to another person who is suffering depression, I would say,’remember always that you are unique, you need to find your way of coping and you have the power to do this.
    The experience of others is their journey, you are on your own quest.’
    ‘Although it is a journey through the darker side, without darkness, we would never experience light.’

    3 REPLY
    • Thank you for these enlightening words Philomena. Again, I witnessed my daughter today suffering from depression and panic attack. I felt so helpless, not knowing what to say or do. I told some encouraging and uplifting words in the same sense as what you said but not as clear. I hope I can find solution or help for her. I cannot move freely because she wants to keep it to herself, she is ashamed. I don’t want to betray her trust but I know I need to seek help for her asap!

  2. And I hate the label,’Black Dog.’
    Its so negative. Depressive phases pass and within them there are so many creative possibilities.

    1 REPLY
    • It was Winston Churchill who – it is said- called his depression The Black Dog. There is a very helpul Black Dog Institute in Oz. They have a website of that name. Yes – thank heavens those phases generally pass.

  3. Depression incapacitates – and I have loved ones that suffer! It does pass, and with medication they can cope. I can only be supportive. I suffer from depression – it goes away. I have my own path.

  4. Depression makes you feel as if you are worthless, you feel like a bother to people already. The last time I was depressed when my daughters asked I really told them how I felt. They then said mum this is not true, they helped me to see I needed to change these false thoughts and put the real one in

  5. Ppl too quick too say.when asked how are.,( I’m fine) if one is perceptive you can sense. The answer is not how the person trully feeling. One can also see how a person feels by looking into the person’s eyes. The mirror of one’s soul.

  6. The Australian Psychological Society states Depression costs our economy 12.6 Billion per year. I am glad we can begin to talk more openly about it without shame.

  7. Well written piece with much food for thought – thank you. I agree that we are so easily influenced by people around us, and this can be to our overall mental health detriment.

  8. We all hide it, simply because ‘Nobody cares anyway’, ‘they don’t want to know’, ‘they have their own problems, they don’t want to listen to mine’…..etc etc. Sound familiar? I have found that every time this mongrel dog revisit’s it’s harder to get rid of him. I make a concerted effort to never focus on the negative and am always bent on making people smile. So, of course I am never going to tell them anything that could upset them. At this point I am doing everything to remain positive and think of the next day. I don’t look to a future that is further away than a few days.

  9. I find it hard to say all right,when I’m not.
    Have had major issues with depression throughout my life,I seek help in the right place and manage to keep it under control.
    For anyone suffering depression,go and see your doctor and get a referral to a specialist.

  10. Lonely people keep things to themselves coz they don’t like to bother others which eventually leads to deep depression, I think

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