Winston Churchill had a black dog
His name was written on it
It followed him around from town to town
It’d bring him down
Took him for a good long ride
Took him for a good look around
Reg Mombassa: Black dog
Winston Churchill frequently referred to struggling with his “black dog,” his metaphor for depression, in his case as bipolar disorder. He had a remarkable and accomplished life like other depressives such as Abraham Lincoln and Tolstoy. There are many people walking around with mood disorders and don’t even realize it. I believe everybody knows somebody who’s consistently talked about “feeling blue,” “down,” or “blah.” Old timers said they were “feeling poorly,” “took to their bed,” or “went away for a rest.” Still there’s a stigma attached to publicly acknowledging the condition. Fortunately people like Churchill did mention it because he was prescient enough realize that at times it’s better to recognize the elephant in the room before people drew worse conclusions. So he referred to his black dog.
Like Churchill, I should acknowledge on this blog that I’ve had my own black dog since childhood. I picture him as a black bull dog in honor of Churchill; he’s unnamed because he’s not welcome. He can stay away for long periods then sudden spring out of nowhere nipping at my heels, or sitting on my chest licking my face. He seems as small as a chihuahua when he plays nice or big as that proverbial elephant when he’s a bastard. He exudes a clinging miasma that saps my energy and causes as clinicians state, “deficiencies of concentration, persistence and pace.” He’s not menacing; he’s simply annoying.
Several months ago, I spotted him bouncing outside the fence, as it were, until he grew big enough to jump it and give chase. Last month, he tackled me and attached himself like Velcro. During these times, all of my energy is focused on keeping the paychecks coming. Everything else falls by the wayside. I hoped blogging would help keep focus but dragging the black dog around required too much energy, hence the withdrawal from blog-verse. Finally he’s shrunk to teacup size, small enough to punt out the door. Hopefully he’ll stay preoccupied elsewhere while I pick up where things dropped and clear up an accumulating To Do List. It’s daunting and frustrating, but something I accept and work through.
I realize I missed an important email (damn, sorry!) and many posts. Although I’ve not been commenting on blogs and emails as I would have liked, I have been reading and thinking about them all. Please don’t think you’re being ignored.
Hope to get back to regular scheduled programming shortly, and to show my good faith, here’s a shiney:
Judiang, I’ve had my own black dog for years, too. He can be vicious and has stolen so much from life. As a fellow resident of the windy city, I am sending you good vibes and a big hug. You are not alone!
Welcome preraphaelmeg, and thanks for the support. 🙂
Thank you for this post Judiang. Your honesty and openness about such a stigmatized issue are greatly appreciated. Not enough share their stories and this is such a prevalent issue yet people still don’t feel they can talk about it without being judged.
I’m glad to hear your black dog is back to chihuahua size (great imagery by the way) and that the veil has lifted. Happy to see you back online!
Thanks Calexora. It’s a subject that needs honest discussion. It occurred to me that despite all the blogging about writing, that readers may think I’ve swanned off with a new shiney, and that’s not the case. It’s not a way to hold readership, but hopefully those who have stuck around have a better understanding about the irregularity. Thanks for being patient.
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