Today #BlackDogRunner has asked me to guest tweet for him. This is because part of the aim of inventing #BlackDogRunner as a masked vigilante black dog was to make him the voice of every (wo)man on Mental Health issues. So while the “real” Dog is on holiday this week he has asked 5 of his anonymous friends to tweet on his behalf. You can read my interview with him here. Regular readers of my blog will remember that #BlackDogRunner is an online friend who has supported me lots during my most recent period of Depression (read about it here) so I am of course only too glad to help, and it seems like an appropriate time to blog a little about my Black Dog.
I remember the first time I saw the short film, ‘I had a Black Dog, his name was Depression’ by Matthew Johnstone and feeling like someone had finally described a lot of what I was feeling that I hadn’t been able to describe in words.
The film is here and if you haven’t seen it please take a look…
I feel the film may not exactly replicate my experience but it certainly helped me to explain it better to people who have never suffered with depression themselves. I certainly think it shows depression is much more than “feeling a bit down”
Officially I was only diagnosed with depression around 8 years ago, but I feel my Black Dog has been around since my teenage years. Up until then I feel the Black Dog had, on the whole, been fairly manageable but all of a sudden, and out of the blue, he had taken over and it resulted in me taking a fairly large amount of time off work, medication and some therapy. After over 2 years of fighting he became more manageable again and I was able to stop the medication.
I had about 6 years of “remission” but then last year the Black Dog returned. I had felt the symptoms creeping up on me for a while, and I had even mentioned to my (now ex) husband that I wondered if I needed to consider medication, but then last summer my marriage falling apart along with my mum being diagnosed with cancer pushed me from mild depression to major depression within a matter of days. Luckily, my knowledge of the illness meant I didn’t delay asking for help as I had in the past. I went straight to the doctor for medication and to request a referral to counselling.
A year on I am still struggling every day, but I think a combination of therapy, medication, selfcare and the support of my friends (both in real-life and online) is starting to make a difference. I know the road to recovery is a long one, with hurdles along the way, but I am determined to try to keep fighting.
I feel my Black Dog will be around my whole life, but I’m hoping that overall I will be able to keep him under control.
If you have, or know someone who suffers from depression I’d love for you to show your support for #BlackDogRunner who is running the Great North Run on 7th September 2014 for Mind. Give a #PoundForTheHound by texting PFTH70 £1 to 70070 (UK only) and if you are on twitter use the hashtag #PoundForTheHound to dedicate it to the Black Dog in your life.
If you want to know more about the #PoundForTheHound please read #BlackDogRunner’s blog post here.