black dog
Mental Health,  Self Care

When The Black Dog Nips At Your Heels (Personal)

This is a very different post for me. A very personal one and very hard for me to write. I have suffered from severe clinical depression since I was 14 years old. It runs in the family, my aunt suffers with it and my grandad did too. He even spent time in a mental health hospital, as he tried to kill himself. So the black dog of depression is well known to me.

I battle with it every single minute of every single day, along with everything else that comes with it.

I’ve felt that familiar black dog nipping at my heels more than ever of late. My medication for depression doesn’t seem to be working anymore.  My physical health is also taking a battering at the moment and I think it’s this, that has called forth my all too familiar black, shadowy companion.

“When the fuck did I become this fragile, this pathetic?” I question as I find myself standing in the bathroom at 5 am, watching tears run down my face as I look at my reflection in the mirror. Tears I thought I’d managed to finally keep in check.

black dog

I don’t even feel like I recognise myself anymore. That person staring back at me is not who I am. I don’t want to be this person. Weak, needy, emotional.

It’s like I take two steps forward then something insignificant happens and takes me three steps back.

That’s just it, though, it doesn’t have to be anything huge to trigger a setback. It can be something extremely small, dumb even and you know it’s not relevant yet for some reason you can’t even begin to fathom, it’s like ‘WHAM’ it knocks you right on your ass.

I had a health setback that has really knocked me about. For those that don’t know, I am housebound, I’ve left the house once in the last few years and that was in an ambulance last year when they suspected I’d had a stroke. On top of that, I am also bed bound for 99.9% of the time. I shower with help. That took me a long time to accept that I needed the help.

At 46 you don’t want to admit that you can’t do things on your own anymore. Pride, we all have it and mine really suffered.

You know what, though, I was told it takes strength to actually ask for help, to let go of my pride and admit that I need help with certain things. It was far from easy and I’m still not 100% comfortable with it but I do it.

There is nothing I can do about my situation healthwise, it is what it is. However, I can do something about my attitude; my mental and emotional health.

Depression is draining, it’s tiring, selfish and it doesn’t give a crap who it shits on.

I have had one of the worst days, that I have ever had today, for such a long time. Honestly, I just didn’t want to be here anymore. I didn’t want to live in constant pain and be a constant burden to everyone that is in my life. Everything just hurt so much; felt so excruciatingly painful.

I am not a selfish person. I am usually generous to a fault. I’ll go without to give to others. People have taken advantage of that, many many times. Sad thing is, I let them. I still do sometimes.

When the black dog visits, though,  I become such a selfish, self-loathing, self-hating, shell of a person with no control of my emotions or my mouth. I say things I don’t mean. I’m spiteful and I just withdraw from everyone. I feel everything and nothing.

It’s like something in me drives me to push people away, I make them want to leave. I don’t really want them to go but I just can’t help myself. Even as I say stuff I’m having an internal battle, telling myself to just shut up, to just stop. Almost like, I’m testing them to see if they really, truly care because I have so much self-doubt. If I hate myself and if I don’t even like myself a little, then why the hell would anyone else?

black dog

In a sense, it feels like the black dog nipping at my heels takes to barking & snarling at anyone close to me. It wants to isolate me, cut me off and have me all to itself. Making me weaker, making me powerless.

That’s how it’s felt today. I hurt someone I love very much today. I didn’t mean to and I wish I could take it back, except I can’t. I can’t undo it.

Hopefully, they know that isn’t really me, that I didn’t mean the things I said. That I am sorry.

I’m trying so hard to get the black dog to heel and it’s fighting me every step of the way. I will fight harder, though. I will bring it to heel and I will send it scuttling away with its tail between its legs.

This person today? This isn’t me. This is just a tiny facet of the person I am.

My depression does not define me. I won’t let it. I am not my illness. There is no shame in struggling, no shame in asking for help. Sometimes we can’t do these things alone.

It’s all too easy to force a smile and pretend everything is ok. You might even fool people that you are ok. The only person you are truly fooling is yourself.

If you feel you’re struggling I would encourage you to consider working with a mental health counsellor or Psychologist.

Sarah loves creating beauty content but also writes about health & lifestyle. She has several chronic illnesses that impact her life in many ways. It's made her a big mental health advocate.