Black Dog

Five years ago today a very good friend of mine completed suicide (psychologist term). Today always causes me to pause, reflect, think about my friend and think about me. I miss my friend and I hope he is in a better place. I also hope his family and wife (widow?) still love him and are not mad at him.

I have been thinking about whether to write this post all afternoon and evening. I have started seven other blog posts and three of them are well advanced, so wasn’t sure if I should start another one! Also even though people try and convince others that depression is not taboo, nothing to be ashamed about, it is with many people. People just do not want to discuss it. But we should be able to! I have a friend who has spoken up about domestic violence, so here I am opening up about depression.

I know the day my friend was going to tell me about his depression. We caught up every now and then for a coffee at Gloria Jean’s and this time he e-mailed that he wanted to tell me something. We chatted about work and he told me that he had stomach ulcers again, but I knew that wasn’t the ‘something’. I didn’t pry as I just don’t like appearing nosey. He didn’t mention anything else. Not long after that it was Christmas and he and his wife took off for a drive to Adelaide. His wife mentioned this in her eulogy and things started to make sense about some of his actions. I wished I had been nosey. What if he had one more friend that understood what he was going through?

I understand completely. I understand why someone would feel like suicide is the only option. I understand the constant struggle – to smile, to operate, to live. I understand the feeling of total isolation, from everything and everyone. What I do not understand is why people think suicide is the easy way out – what is harder than making the decision to leave your family (parents, spouse, children etc) behind? Why are people so mad at the person that completed suicide – should you not feel some empathy to what they must have been going through to make such a final decision? Are people just trying to put the anger they feel at themselves onto the one that has passed? I do not the answers, these are just my thoughts. I am not mad at my friend for making the decision he did, I am just sad. Sad he didn’t think he could talk to me, sad that he didn’t think he would get out of the darkness, sad that he is no longer around for his wife and family.

When I found out about my friend I went into a dark place pretty quickly. Things were mad for me that January and February. Our Kalgoorlie house had settled, but our Perth house was not ready, so we were homeless. I had a lovely friend that took hubbie, Makita and me in for a week or so, until a unit that belonged to work was available. It was month end and I was trying to pass on all my knowledge to my replacement, and January was the worst month end at my previous employer, because it had a December year end, so that meant in January there was a lot more reporting, plus you had to roll over all sorts of models in time for January’s month end. I was stressed about the Perth house, things were taking too long. We also had to pack, and since I was going to be in Kalgoorlie for another month until I finished work, I had to ensure I didn’t pack certain things. And because the Perth house wasn’t finished we had to store our entire life contents somewhere! We had planned our wedding trip for March, so we were busy planning that. We were also building two units in Kalgoorlie, so there was some extra pressure there too. Plus we were about to get married! Not that that was a stressful thing for us, since we were going to enjoy ourselves in Las Vegas! But it is still a lot to deal with at once!

At the funeral, his wife read outMichelle's Labyrinth a book that her late husband related to – I Had A Black Dog by Matthew Johnstone. Holy bleep! How I related to the words she read out. How things made sense. It was exactly how I had been feeling on and off for a year or so. How brave and strong she was to read that out, at her husband’s funeral in front of hundreds of people, and being so young herself. How wonderful she was/is!

Since February 2008 I have been on and off anti-depressants. There was a 18 month section in the middle where I wasn’t on them; I was really enjoying work. But the black dog feeds off stress and fatigue, and I had been in highly stressed roles for years. I don’t talk about my black dog, well it is more like my dark cloud. I smile and laugh and have been told how great my laugh is and that I am the happiest person someone knows. My laugh is happy, and it takes a lot of effort to laugh sometimes, it is exhausting, then I get fatigued, then the black cloud takes over. I have tried to talk about it, but have then been asked what do I have to be stressed about? So I shut down.

It is not about being stressed or being sad. It is not something you can build a bridge and get over (something else said to me). It is a chemical reaction, a ‘brain state’ as it says in I Had A Black Dog. I guess you could say depression is like alcoholism, addiction, diabetes. It is a disease. I am not weak. I am not a whinger. I just have a black cloud that is always near by.

So I just wanted to say that there are people out there that are willing to listen, without judgement – like me! Our lives are hectic, we are moving a million miles an hour but we need to take care of ourselves. We are often told to slow down and smell the roses, or enjoy the sunset. But how often do we do that? We should make more of an effort to make time for our family, our friends and most of all ourselves. That is what is important.

On a different topic, I did my first felting project today! I have been seeing lots of lovely felted fantasy creatures on Facebook and Etsy, so I thought I would give it a go. I watched the youtube videos (Make a Felt Sheep, Part 1 &2):

And got some ideas from Facebook pages:

So this is what I made:

Michelle's Labyrinth   Michelle's Labyrinth

The inspiration from Labyrinth:

Michelle's Labyrinth

Felting is fun. You stab (I mean poke) wool with a small needle until that tangles the fibres until they join into the shape you want. The stabbing is fun and I think it is going to be a new method to remove any excess anger :)

And also I was serious, if you ever need me, for any reason at all… I am here for you.





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18 thoughts on “Black Dog

  1. I hope that talking about the problem helps to keep it at bay. It is very difficult to deal with.
    I love your first felting project! Great job.

  2. Wise words spoken about depression. You don’t always have to be smiling and laughing around me. I will be therr for you all the time (black cloud and all).
    BTW nice felting job

  3. My thoughts are with you and your friend today. Thank you for your honesty in bringing awareness to the dark cloud that so many struggle with. You can always talk to me too, any day, any time :). Or when the words don’t seem to want to flow, we can felt together :) Xxx

  4. I have to agree with all the other comments – thank you for your honesty, and for bringing awareness to something that many people deal with – it was very well said Michelle! So sorry about your friend, it’s awful to lose someone like that. Know that you’ll always have a friend here to talk to if you need xox. PS – I love your felt project, I knew exacty who it was before I scrolled down & read your description!

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