When the Black Dog’s Howling

sad28It’s hard to explain depression when you haven’t had it.  I was chatting to a guy about this a few days ago. ‘Yes’ he said. ‘My wife’s found things difficult in the past but I never really got it.  I tried to be sympathetic, but I couldn’t help thinking, ‘ we’ve got things good. Why can’t you just be more positive?’

He paused.  ‘Then I was made redundant at work.  One day I just couldn’t get up.  It wasn’t just sadness or – …well, I still can’t describe it. I was blank and I couldn’t pull myself out.  Since then, I’ve thought about all this mental health – completely different. You don’t think it’ll happen to you.’

Here’s how a few others have described depression to me:

“‘As someone who is passionate about words, one of the hardest things is not being able to articulate the experience; the effect it has on those closest to me; the feelings of being a burden and causing trouble/inconvenience to colleagues etc. The times of sheer blackness which reduce me into a mumbling stupor, or the panic attacks”

“you can’t tell someone is depressed or self harming from the outside so they seem well and then it’s hard to explain. Also if you’ve never had depression/ never known anyone with it I think it’s very hard to understand”.

“The hardest is the hopelessness. When you can’t sleep but you can’t be awake, you can’t be home but not with friends either”

“If something does not work out or if someone does not feel well I first think ‘what did I do wrong? What did I forget?’ and I feel guilt coming up inside me…I always had the feeling I am not good enough. ..being a perfectionist does definitely not help to get over depression. Nothing is ever good enough but you don’t have the energy to even try the smallest task. So you leave it completely instead. Nothing can go wrong then. Apart from that you feel worthless because you don’t do anything”

When faced with these feelings, what can we say? We can’t make it better; but we can make it more ok not to be ok.

Here’s a great example which a friend shared:

“‘I recently wrote to a friend who was struggling with depression. This is what I said:

You said that you were struggling to Deal With Life
(I don’t know how or why, but I guess it doesn’t really matter)
Just letting you know that I am praying for you
And that you are beautiful in God’s eyes
And he is really really pleased with you.
He is really pleased with you
and his heart breaks when you are troubled by the Horrible and scary!Beans and argh!mad!Panic.
Everything is going to be okay.
Not in the sense that everything will be ok or the Horrible will ease off in this life
but in the sense that Jesus is with you wherever you go

I know that this is a strange analogy, so bear with me, but I don’t think that
Jesus is an angel floating on your shoulder telling you what to do, instead
Jesus is the pair of shoes that you are wearing.
Trudging through the Horrible with you and taking the absolute worst of it.

I pray that the Horrible will become less horrible
and the scary!beans will become less scary
and the argh!mad!Panic will become less anxiety-inducing
and Jesus promises it will, if not in this life, then the next.

But more than that
I pray that you would keep your eyes not on the Horrible –
but on the Cross.
It’s dealt fully and finally with all sorts of Horrible.
I pray that your end goal in life wouldn’t be to make the Horrible go away
or wallow in the scarybeans and arghmadpanic feelings –
but to receive Jesus and enjoy Him.
Receive and enjoy his love.
That overflows into peace and blessing. Not the other way round.”

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2 thoughts on “When the Black Dog’s Howling

  1. “The hardest is the hopelessness. When you can’t sleep but you can’t be awake, you can’t be home but not with friends either” im well at the moment but this particular part of the blog really strikes home

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