“Goddamnit, you asked me about this shit before, you know.”
I have known my friend for a long time. He swears a lot. He has lived with depression all his life.
We met the other day over coffee. When he showed up to the coffee shop, I could tell he’s had a particularly bad week.
“The mother fucking Black Dog is biting my ass again.” He was particularly colorful today.”And I know, that before the days out, if I don’t scream at somebody, hopefully in my car, I’m going to do a quick left turn into the traffic.”
“And you’ve known me a long time, so don’t spit in your coffee when I tell you, but I am absolutely serious about this: Suicide is a pretty violable option, most days…”
The “Black Dog” that my friend refers to is an Irish colloquialism for Depression.
When somebody talks about their depression, it can come at you in 100 different ways. People get angry, or they get very sad, or sometimes they get anxious at the hopelessness and helplessness they feel in the context of their depression. In my friend’s case, anger and aggressiveness help him, as he has said so often,”get that shit out of my system.” I know a little bit about it, so I don’t mind listening. And he’s really a good man.
“But it always comes back,” he said, as he leaned back in his chair, “that Black Dog is a relentless motherfucker, I’ll tell you that.”
My friend has been and out of depression for years. The conversation continued and he said, “Jesus, it just blows dead bears today (direct quote.) He said, “Look, I’m a little bit around the bend with my feelings here. But can you do something to help people? That was your job once, wasn’t it?” He wanted me to, in his words, “spare those poor bastards about my story. They don’t need to know about me. Just show them the symptoms of depression. My ass is beyond help. But you’ve got like, what, eleven readers? Well, maybe they know somebody and can help them.”
So he’s asked that this space today be devoted to the symptoms of depression, and turned me on to a website, “blackdoginstitute,org”
And as a public service to my friend and all of you, here’s what you look for:
Signs of Depression include:
-Lowered self esteem
-Change in sleep patterns, like insomnia or broken sleep.
-Changes in appetite or weight
-Less ability to control emotions such as pessimism, anger, guilt, irritability and anxiety
-Varying emotions throughout the day, for example, feeling arose in the morning and better as the day progresses
-Reduced capacity to experience pleasure: you can’t enjoy what’s happening now, nor look forward to anything with pleasure. Hobbies and interests drop off.
-Reduced pain tolerance: you are less able to tolerate aches and pains and may have a host of new ailments.
-Changed sex drive: absent or reduced.
-Poor concentration or memory: Some people are so impaired they think they’re suffering from dementia
-Reduced motivation: it doesn’t seem with the effort to do anything, things seem meaningless.
-Lowered energy levels.
“Two things that helped me,” my friend said to include, “is reassurance and love. Somebody can say something nice to me and turn my ass around. It gives me hope and it gives me worth. Those are my best days. And sometimes I can give both of those to myself, I really can. It’s just hard sometimes to believe that shit one side of myself tells me when another side of my head tells me I’m a worthless fuck that should really stop using up any more oxygen than necessary.”
I told my friend I’d be in touch, and he said, “Oh, yeah. New York Times article at least fifteen years ago talks about the ineffectiveness of anti-depressants in about half the people that are depressed, the first time they take them. If the first one doesn’t work, hang in there. There are a lot of others and some smart bastards out there that know their way around your brain.”
I told my friend I loved him and that it was going to be OK, that I’d text him and let him know more often.
“Couldn’t hurt,” he said. “Made me feel a little better just now, so thanks for that. Maybe that Black Dog will stop pissing on my leg for a while.”
He looked down at his pant leg and laughed.
By entrusting us with your feelings, we help you take steps that you see necessary to begin and put forth the energy to make the needed change.
Now notice something: Trust in a coach, mentor, or guide helps you see what's in front of you. We see a Coach for Your Heart a little like an emotional Sherpa, somebody that helps you climb your mountain by pointing out where to best step along the path.
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