The Black Dog

On 26.10.2015 at 08:20, the signed printout from the doctor confirmed that the black dog had officially caught up with me.  To be honest, I think it had been stalking me for as long as I can remember and has been padding along beside me for at least the past year or longer.  The doctor’s note was merely a formality.

Over time I’ve written a few articles about dealing with my feelings of melancholy.  A few of them are in the featured articles list.  Now, with at least this week on sick leave, I have a chance to evaluate them from the other side of the fence.  Maybe I wrote them for myself.  Who knows.

For a while now I’ve been getting concerned looks and comments from Mother Duck, friends and even work colleagues.  After a while, when so many people are saying the same thing, even I start to pay attention.  What clinched it was a picture taken by a work colleague.  I looked like a marionette with its string cut.  The picture revealed what I was feeling inside.

So what now?  I have no idea why I am writing this or even what good it is going to do; for me or anyone else.  I guess if someone asks how things are, I can reply with, “Yeah .. go read the blog.”.  It saves printing handouts, I suppose.  As with many other posts, I am writing this for it’s therapeutic value.  It’s good sometimes to just see my thoughts in black and white.

The problem

Once the shock of being signed off with depression had worn off a little, thanks in part to a coffee and a doughnut, the next thought to wrap my head around was “how on earth did I get here?”.  I’d just charged my bus card, made lunch to have at work, and yet now I was headed home again.  The most I had expected from seeing the doctor was an appointment to see a psychologist, but I got sick leave too.

The two main things which landed me on the leather couch were pride and baggage.   The  baggage mainly centred around the feeling of being stuck where I am and having no real value.  At work, at least, it really feels as if I am a small cog in a very big machine.  Working through a temping agency doesn’t really help either.  Whilst there, I basically have no real future career wise.  Pride was the real problem as this is what stopped me from seeking help earlier.  It didn’t feel like pride at the time, I just figured people were making a fuss.  I’ve pushed myself through worse, so surely I can push my way through this.  Sitting around feeling sorry for myself wasn’t going to change matters, and neither was reeling off the things on my mind to a psychologist.  How can talking about something change it?  Stuff and nonsense!

The week and a half of sick leave was a well needed break.  I was able to take time to recharge, get bored and spend time chewing over my conversation with the shrink.   The interesting thing about meeting him, was that what I thought was the problem turned out not to be the problem.  The depression was a side effect of my coping mechanism for the problem.

The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. – Captain Jack Sparrow

But how to change a faulty coping mechanism or survival strategy?  If I am withdrawing into myself to deal feeling useless as a result of failed daily interactions, then I need to somehow get my shit together and start re-entering those places which have worn me out.  A fairly daunting prospect but at least now I have some clearer perspective on what the ‘problem’ really is.

Imagine a traditional wrist watch (something expensive) and ask a watch-maker about the smallest of cogs in that watch.  In the most complicated of watches there could be over a thousand moving parts, and just one missing or failed part will render the watch useless.  Even through I feel like, and may even be, a small cog in a large machine, it might well be that I have a role which only I can fulfil.

(I have to admit, as the watch came to life at the 7:00 mark I had to catch my breath.)

Just as the watch above was carefully assembled by hand, the bible tells us that we too are skilfully created,  ‘woven’ is the word used,  by God.  The word woven implies a one-to-one relationship between the weaver and yarn.  As with the hand-made watch above we are a one-off work of art, not a mass produced clone.

We are connected to those around us in such a way that when we are hurting, they are affected too.  Although being off sick didn’t bring Mega-Corp to its knees, there would have been some impact on how things run at work.  If I am below par, then the team is below par.  If I have withdrawn into myself there is, I guess, a hole in the family.

Partly as a confession to those around me but also as note to you and me should we find ourselves face-to-face with the black dog; we are important, and significant.  Those people going on at us to see a doctor aren’t worried about the oh-so-heavy-load we are placing on them, rather they are worried about us.  They see the marionette with the broken strings long before we do.

As the doctor gently chided me before returning back to work; if I am not sure if it’s time to talk to someone, then it probably is time to talk to someone.

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