Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Followup to Yesterday's Post, and Kenneling the Black Dog

This has been a big day for me and my blog. I want to thank all my friends and readers and new people who came over to read my post about the causes of melancholia--in medical terms, "depression." It has been extremely rewarding and thought-provoking to hear from all of you. My deepest thanks.

In addition to the 30 people who left comments, about 110 other people read this post. I wrote it as a way to reach out--not so much for help for myself--but to establish connections, knowing I am not alone. And I was right. It's a subject that resonates with many. I think, at bottom line, this is a condition that's not so much a medical one as a human one--the human condition--which all of us experience to some degree, and some of us feel in ways that cause more suffering.

For those of you who wished me a better day today, I'd like to say thank you and note that I'm not really having "bad" days. The "black dog" has a little kennel in the corner of my soul where I go over every once and while and sit. I find that the more I hate the dog and ignore it, the more icky and bad-tempered it becomes. Spending time with it and listening to it helps me understand it better. I learn to see what I can to do make my life better. Someday, and I'm not sure when, I'm planning to post about ways I've learned to manage my melancholia that might be food for thought for others. I think when I do that, I will also get lots of food for thought myself.

Love, SM


ceecee said...

I really thank you so much for that post on melancholia. After reading so many of the comments, both here and at Saz's, I felt a camraderie today that actually made me feel better. You will surely get alot of feedback the next time you post about it. Thanks girlfriend! And thanks for your many visits. You are the best!

Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP said...

Great post about a really important topic. I think a bit issue when you have the black dog visiting, is that you feel very alone and that no one else feels like that. When people share their black dog experiences and that it's not all bad, this is a great way to reach out and help.

Zuzana said...

I am glad that you feel better and that you have found such a support in friends and strangers around the globe.;)

Penney said...

When I find myself in times of sorrow......This is where I go..It was a huge help. My oldest son suggested this book. It's wonderful..
(like you...)
"Start Where You Are"
pema chodron

paperbatty said...

I like the idea of not running so fast from the black dog. Thank you for talking about it.

Eleonora Baldwin said...

Brava, Sallymandy. Big Italian hug,

Lola xx

Lucy said...

Sallymandy, I thank you for posting about this very important issue that affects all directly and indirectly. What a clever way to call it the black dog...I had never heard this before, what an effective way of making it tangible by giving it form and place to go...

Cynthia L. H. said...

Thank you, again, for bringing some light and clarity to a dark and often taboo subject.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

To be honest, I think just about every creative person I know has a black dog living somewhere in their vicinity. I suppose the trick is learning how best to tame him. Thinking of you.

Rosaria Williams said...

There are nutritionists who have covered this topic and have offered many good solutions too.

Jamtart said...

Sallymandy, I was one of the 110 who read your post yesterday. I was deeply moved, and saw myself in so many of your words - but I couldn't quite bring myself to respond.
Thank you so much for reaching out ♥ your words gave me comfort and strength. Its incredibly empowering to 'meet' someone else who has a black dog of her own - melancholia is a lonely place to be. I was diagnosed with bi-polar when I was about 23, and its only now, some 20+ years later, that I'm learning hot to deal with it. I completely agree with you that acknowledging the black dog somehow tames the beast, and makes it easier to deal with. I'm finding that by recognising that the melancholia is just a part of who I am, something that contributes to making me uniquely 'me' - I'm not consumed by it.
I'm in a fairly dark place right now - your posts are like a tonic.
Thank you.xx

xxx said...

I will make time to read your previous post.
Great to read that you feel supported.

I meditate daily for an hour and I have not experienced being depressed in a very long while.
It's not to say that I'm in a permanent state of happiness, but my emotional state is definitely more balanced than life before meditation.

best wishes

Jennifer Campaniolo said...

Hi SallyMandy,

I'll need to jump down to your original post and comment. But here's wishing you a good day.


Rosaria Williams said...

Sallymandy, I wish I could share my garden dreams and efforts with you. Meantime, I heard from Dr. Oz, of Oprah's fame, that Omega 3 supplements do help with depression. It seems that women suffer because of this particular need in their chemistry. Since I moved to Oregon and eat a lot of fresh fish, and home-grown veggies,I have not suffered from depression. Just passing info along.

Kat Mortensen said...

We are all taming that little "black dog". You're in my prayers.


Unknown said...

Very compelling post. At least it's something you are aware of. awareness can give a small measure of control over it. Though you fight it each and every day.

I have found though that the best artistic people suffer from depression. It seems to bring out the most passion from us. The best songs and poetry are born from sadness.

La Belette Rouge said...

I do find it helpful to tell myself I won't always feel this way. At least 50% of the time I believe it. But, can tell you that even when I am not a major depression that your lesson #2 can be a challenge for me. I know it would make a big difference but there is something in me that wants to withdraw from life rather than embrace it. I suppose that comes from having a dysthymic temperament.

I, dear Sallymandy, so admire you for so honestly and openly talking about a subject that is often hidden. It is such a comfort to know that we are not alone in this. Others have known the black dog and survived the weight of his presence.

Thank you for bringing to light this topic that without light can feel inky, shadowy, dark and very lonely. Hugs to you.xoxo

sallymandy said...

TCH: I'm so glad if anyone at all finds this helpful, and especially a friend. Much love, C.

Imogen: I agree completely.

Protege: There is so much support, more than I ever knew.

Penney: I'm a lover of Pema Chodron, too. I have not read that book of hers, but have found her writing very helpful. Thank you.

Sugar Cain and Lola; thanks, you two. ♥

Ms Lucy: I'd actually never heard of the black dog reference, but several commenters used it so I figured it must be kind of a common thing. I like it, too--makes it seem more approachable.

Cynthia: Thank you!

Pamela: I agree with you. It's very common, especially with artists.

Lakeviewer: You're right; I've been seeing nutritional references for quite a while. To date I lack the discipline to change my food very much, though gradually I have eliminated a lot of unhealthy stuff. Thank you for these ideas.

Jamtart: Thank you SO much for coming over and sharing your view. This means a great deal to me. I like very much your thoughts about your melancholia just being a part of who you are. We can't try to eliminate any part of ourselves and be healthy, I believe. We have to love and accept all parts, and in my experience this frees me to do what I can to make the issues more manageable. xo, SM

Ribbon: Thank you. Your comment made me think seriously about trying once again to meditate more. I've absolutely loved the results when I do it. I have not been successful at maintaining it as a practice, though in some ways I do other "meditative" activities. I know these aren't quite the same. You made a compelling case for meditation. xo

Thanks, Jennifer.

Lakeviewer: I will enjoy your garden vicariously through your blog. Definitely. Thank you for the suggestion about Omega 3. I might look into that.

Poetikat: Thank you, kind friend.

Sher: Awareness and acceptance are key for me. I've found that in a counterintuitive way, fighting the depression makes it worse. I need to accept it and not be afraid of it. That doesn't mean resign myself to misery, but realize I can't work with it if I'm simultaneously fighting it. Thank you for your comment. xo

Belette: Thank you so much.

My natural tendency is always to retreat. Truth be told, I detest embracing the world. Rather, I climb a big hurdle to get going each day. It will never come easy. I do find the starting is hardest, though.

I've learned the hard way to allow myself lots of time to retreat. I mean, lots. I take naps every day, sometimes more than one, and I hang out and "waste" time just puttering. My parents are constant workers and this practice of being "non productive" doesn't feel natural; yet I'm nuts if I don't do it. My house is never clean. I would be healthier if I exercised more but sometimes I just can't bring myself to walk out that door into the street for a walk. I much prefer a quiet dark Pilates studio where no one sees me, but which I've currently said no to because of cost.

So...I hear you. Making a commitment only means I embrace life to the same extent I embrace my inner world. Sometimes the comfort of my inner world, even if it's "dark" seems much preferable to the frenzied go go go of the outer world.

Thank you, all my valued readers. Much love, SM.