Okay, so the old Black Dog has been making himself scarce of late. Just the odd whimper from him but it’s not as if I’ve fed him. But for some reason he has been leaping the garden gate and getting under my feet. Naturally all those of you that know who/what the Black dog is, will know the inherent dangers of not dealing with him correctly. If I think about why he has returned with a renewed appetite I simply don’t know the whys and wherefores. Of course sometimes the deepest self evaluation cannot get nearer to solving the mystery, some mysteries remain unsolved: Jack the Ripper, The Marie Celeste, the popularity of The Lord Of The Rings movies etc.
Thinking too much is like an open tin of Pedigree chum to the Black Dog and over thinking the issue is a second helping of the meaty treat. So what other course of action? Remembering the tactics from the past, recalling the light that is always at he end of the tunnel and a healthy dose of perspective are all valuable strategies. When the Black Dog hasn’t been around much, days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months and you forget what the sound of his bark is like, you don’t recall the smell when he has just come in from the rain and you don’t miss his pungent breath so it’s easy to forget him. That’s the problem: never forget him, always remember that he’s out there lurking and an occasional visit does not mean he’s moving in for good and taking residence on your favourite chair. You are the master and he is the pet and pets can be trained.
By referring to depression as a Black Dog I am not trying to hide the facts under an animal alias, what I am doing is placing depression in a construct that can clarify and contextualise the terrifying condition that depression is. If depression was really an animal it would be of King Kong proportions with the shape-changing abilities of The Thing.
I’ve had nine months without him (I generally measure depression free time in calendar years) and the fact that he’s scratching at the door alarms me but, and here’s the important thing, it does not fill me with dread because I know that when he’s had enough of trying to inveigle his way in, peace and quiet will return and the back door can swing open without fear of the loitering canine barging in.
Next door’s cat likes to stroll in for a nose around and that’s fine as she means nobody any harm: she’s just a cat.