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Thursday, 31 March 2016

Managing the Black Dog I.....

 Part 1 of a series of short posts on how I am trying to manage and live with depression....   

      Ahh you're back, well please do take a seat because I have an admission that may well shock you, stun you and probably leave you a little bit amazed..... "I have faults"...there I've said it and though you may very well be, at this moment, trying to understand the ramifications of this most startling of admissions I am afraid the cat is well and truly out of the bag and there is not a snowball's chance in Hades of getting fluffy back into his canvas holdall!

     As regular readers may know (there must be some? any?well just one? please!) I have fought a constant battle with depression or as I term it here upon occasion 'the Black Dog' over several years now. My struggle with this dark bitch has been just that, a constant struggle that at times has caused me to lose my way and flounder through life like a de-masted schooner in a angry tempest off the Cape of Good Hope, sometimes at the top of a wave I see salvation whilst other times I find myself at the bottom of a trough with nought but darkness around and within me. Now you may well be wondering what this has to do with my earlier admission that I am not completely perfect and there is the odd fault contained within myself. Well some of my faults, yes I do have more than one fault, I feel are a direct result of depression whilst others have served to only compound my depression. 

     Tis hard, I think, for the majority of people to be truthful about their shortcomings and when asked to list them folk just generally brush off the request with light hearted banter and remarks such as "I'm really poor at getting up early" or "I sing badly in the shower" and the like. But I have found that as I am slowly beginning to 'manage' my depression a little better that one thing that helps is to actually admit to my faults, firstly to myself and then sometimes to others whom are directly affected by them. 

    So how has this worked for me? Well I will try to explain as best as I can without the use of too much Anglo Saxon (well that's buggered it already). One of my faults is my impulsiveness to take on a project, task or the like when I already have a thousand and one other things on the go. The usual result of this is for me to either not complete said projects, tasks or ideas or to finish some off but to a totally, for me, unsatisfactory level which then leads to me berating myself and becoming disillusioned with myself. In other words I start down the path of not feeling good enough which then can be one of the triggers that allows the Black Dog to get a hold on me. I think that this particular fault has been part of my makeup since an early age but I have never, until recently, actually admitted it to myself let alone anyone else. But just the simple admission of this flaw has allowed my George and myself now to address it, take stock and actually take action in the form of reducing my 'projects' and the like so that I can be more attentive to a few and make a far better fist of them. So my list of hobbies, if you like, has now become somewhat shorter of late and it consists of simply just walking, fishing, blogging, the aquarium, the garden and my allotment. For me all of these hobbies are conducive to relaxation and they are all pretty much what I would call 'mature hobbies', in that they are now established and require just 'tending'. The Morris Minor is to be sold without a spanner being lifted and a myriad of other, smaller projects, have been either dismissed totally or put on the very, very back burner. The Wendy house workshop will indeed be used but not for massive tasks, no more just for general maintenance tasks as and when required and only one at a time until completed. It is early days yet but all the signs are there that this 'slimming' down of my workload is certainly having a positive effect upon me and allowing my mind to focus on things with a clarity that I have not had since I cannot remember.

     Another fault, or symptom, of mine is one that seems to occur when I am already traveling the downward spiral of depression and that is complete financial mismanagement. I think that I may spend money on items, whether it be for the garden, clothes or 'men's toys' in a subconscious attempt to cheer myself up, to give myself something to look forward to, a buzz if you like. But shortly after buying something I'll be looking to purchase the next 'fix' and before you can say 'Wall street crash' my finances are in a right bloody mess. This also accelerates my the downward spiral in a couple of ways, firstly the burden of being heavily overdrawn adds its own pressures and secondly being in a relationship I have certain financial responsibilities and failing these again adds more pressure to my fragile mental state. But again actually admitting and facing up to this has helped and now, with the help of my George, I have a financial strategy in place that will certainly prevent overspending on frivolous items hence easing more pressure from my mind. 

     I guess what I am trying to say is that one of the steps that you can take to ease life's pressures is to be honest with yourself, discover your flaws and be upfront and admit to them, I feel that is only then you can address them and put a plan of action in place which may well help ease the pressures in your life, something that perhaps most people need not just us happily depressed types. I have only used two of many of my flaws as examples but I hope that you get the gist of what I am trying to say. Until the next time take care....

John the organised...ish.

19 comments:

  1. We ALL have one demon or another, John.I'm glad to see that you continue to battle, rather than surrender.

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  2. Good to hear John that you are on the right pathway and are able to believe in yourself again..I quess it all takes time ...you have achieved so much over the past few months. .PROUD OF YOU! XBron

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    1. Still a very long way to go Bron, but thank you for your support

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  3. Brush aside thing and those of insignificance, dwelling on and thinking about these insignificant things may keep a tight leash on you. Positivity and those you love along with positive goals you've set yourself this year will help keep the "black dog" at bay.

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  4. You certainly seem a bit more cheerful since your return from NZ. Seems it did you a lot of good to get away for a spell. Speaking from personal experience I have found it is also a a matter of not dwelling on the issue too much. The more you think about it the more it assumes a space in your life and the bigger the burden becomes and the more time you spend trying to figure out the mechanics of carrying the load. Like I said before, if you keep looking at your feet it is hard to keep your eyes on the road when you are driving and then you can't tell where you are going and you miss the fun bits along the way. You do need to shed some of the load. Not biting off more than you can chew is certainly a good plan. But it is still necessary to undertake small tasks that when completed will give you a sense of accomplishment and deserved satisfaction. Just make sure the tasks are on a scale that is realistic and within reach. If the project is on a larger scale break it down to smaller chores. When you get each one done you will feel the satisfaction.

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    1. I agree that dwelling upon the issue does indeed magnify the effect it has on my life, but trying to ignore it without trying to solve or address some of the trigger points can be just as harmful. Hopefully as I recognize, admit to and ultimately change these trigger points, or at least lesson their affect by positive actions, then things will become easier. And yes I think that in the past it has been the scale of the tasks or the number of them that has made me fail. Some sound advice Mr. Silvius, thank you.

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  5. Don't be too hard on yourself, John. We all have flaws and faults but hey, we're all just human and doing the best we can.

    Sending you hugs from across the pond!

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    1. Ah I don't think that I am being hard on myself this time Jennifer just honest. I know that I cannot ever be perfect but understanding and admitting to some of the faults that have help depression gain a grip on my mind at least allows me to change things about myself to help fight the bitch off. Hugs gratefully received m'dear.

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  6. The problem with a butterfly mind, is capturing the butterfly! Once in a jar, it can be studied and decisions made. Sounds like you have now done both of these so good on you. Well done also on getting rid of the moggie:)

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    1. Now that is a great way of looking at it Dc, I'd forgot all about my tendency to call my flitting from task to task as 'the butterfly effect'. Moggy not gone yet but should be on flea bay this weekend.

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  7. Very recognisable. Take care John.

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    1. First step I believe is in recognising the faults before a remedy can be worked upon Martijn.

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  8. Sounds like you've got a good one in your George. Positive steps. I appreciate your honesty in speaking openly about this. I try and keep my life as simple and stress free as possible but it's not always easy. Keep plodding. X

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    1. Aye she certainly is a good un Jules, I speak openly about my depression because if it prevents or helps just one soul going through what I have been through then it is certainly worth it. But yes I agree that simple is the way to go.

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  9. You say you're not perfect. Who is? Besides the last guy that was perfect got nailed to a cross and that is a hell of a way to spend Easter. Just be who you are and we'll like you just the same.

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  10. John - I have come to determine we may be twins, although born slightly apart in time and in place (like 7000 miles but who is counting?). I was literally going through this same thought process this week.

    I had reached a high point about 3 weeks ago and then suddenly any desire for almost any activity had stopped. It was like being depressed without the depression. I had no desire to work on any of my goals or objectives I had set out at the year. What I came to realize (like you) is that I may be setting the bar quite too high for the current realities of my life. I have to "let" myself decide that some of those things are not going to get done this year - or maybe ever. It is hard for myself (you too, I guess) as I always want to be doing and learning new things. It is a good habit to be in; for me, I just have to accept that for now, there is simply going to be less on that list and adjust accordingly. No sense beating yourself up for things you never could have achieved in the first place.

    And the finance - goes without saying. Working on that too - but yes, I have become quite aware that simply buying something results in only a brief burst of excitement. It is giving me pause as I think of undertaking other activities: is it something I am ready to invest in?

    We will get through this.

    Lhiats, TB

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  11. Hi John, I would say you have a wonderful partner with George. It's always difficult to face our issues, and everyone has them, it's human nature, especially in this day of tech where we wander off chasing a butterfly, as in a recipe for scalped taters and carrots. See I just did that. :) Don't be hard on yourself, live for the moment and enjoy the love you are surrounded with. In the end, love is all that matters and by the sounds of it John, you have found it. Take great care and surround yourself with sunshine.

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