Frustrations With The Black Dog – Freewriting

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I had plans for this week for the blog. Having a few extra days to myself meant that I have had much more time to do all of the things that I’ve been wanting to do over the last few weeks. However, while the urge to write has been as strong as ever, every time I have sat down to create something, my mind has gone blank. I’ve experienced bloggers block on numerous occasions, but never as bad as this before. I have avoided posting something just for the sake of it, like I used to do in the early days of Suzie81 Speaks, but my lack of ideas has left me feeling really frustrated. Today I have decided to sit down and just write – freewriting was something I used when studying A Level English and I find that it is an effective way of unclogging the mind.

I’ve had quite a bad bout of down days over the last week, and this hasn’t helped. I’ve tried to remain as positive as possible, but the problem with ‘The Black Dog’ is that it takes time for it to subside, and I have to take things one day at a time until things start to ease. Depression has been a feature of my life for a number of years, but it isn’t a constant in the way that it seems to be with others. I can go for months feeling absolutely fine, and then it will suddenly hit me, usually after a period of extreme stress (which is often work related) and the only way that I can deal with it is to live life one day at a time and avoid looking at the big picture until things get better.

I often refrain from writing about my mental health until I feel better, mainly due to the large number of family and friends that now read my blog, but on days like today I offer no apologies to those who are put off or offended by my thoughts. This was the reason why the blog was created in the first place – I needed a place to exorcise the inner demons that were plaguing my everyday life and blogging has proven to be the best form of therapy I’ve ever had. There is still such a stigma surrounding mental health issues and I feel that it is important to discuss them when I need to.

It has been particularly bad over the last few days. I seem to have spent the last few days feeling an intense agitation – the insomnia has returned with a vengeance, I have experienced high levels of anxiety, and the slightest little thing has irritated me because I have been so tired. For example, as I write this, the man who lives on my road who frequently walks up and down shouting to himself is stood outside my house and shouting the same things over and over to himself. Normally, it wouldn’t bother me, he clearly has mental health issues and needs to be treated with understanding and compassion, but in my current state of mind I’m resisting the urge to fling open my door and yell at him to shut the f*ck up. However, I know that this will only make the situation worse and it certainly won’t make me feel any better. I’ve spent the week trying to remain calm and I’ve also been conscious not to take it out on The Bloke, who has also had a week off and has been in pain due to a torn muscle in his back, but he’s noticed that I’ve been a bit quiet and, as usual, he’s been understanding and supportive.

I have also tried to be proactive – I’ve been into work on several occasions and have tidied up my classrooms and cupboards, I’ve done some washing and I’ve treated myself to some tat from the new home store that has opened up on the high street, which always makes me happy, and I’m proud of myself for not taking my usual approach and just retreating to the couch, but I’m getting a bit fed up of feeling like this.

What I need is a break – a proper break away from everything that has been bringing me down. My youngest sister and her new husband have been on their honeymoon over the last week in New York, my middle sister has been jetting off all over Europe with her job and I’ve seen all the lovely pictures that my friends have been posting on various social media accounts of their recent adventures and holidays, and while I’m delighted that they are all having a wonderful time, it has made me realise that The Bloke and I need to get away. We aren’t financially destitute by any means, but over the last few years we have been hit with large unexpected bills which have had to take priority, which we are just beginning to recover from. We try and visit London a few times a year, but the last time we went on holiday was in 2010, when I surprised him with a trip to Paris for five days. We have very different ideas of what makes a holiday – he likes to have lots of things to see and do, whereas I like to lay about by a pool in gloriously hot weather and do nothing for a while – but we’ve decided that our next destination is Washington D.C. I visited there when I was supervising a school trip in 2010, and we ended up being stranded in the city for a week longer than our planned excursion because of the volcanic eruption in Iceland, which grounded all flights back to the UK. The extra week gave us the opportunity to see and experience many more things than we had originally planned, and I completely fell in love with the place, but having 56 young students to take care of meant that I had to constantly be in ‘teacher mode’ and I couldn’t truly relax during the entire trip. I want to go back to experience all of the same things again without having to tell someone where the toilet is or answer random questions like ‘Miss, what’s your favourite pizza topping?’ when I am sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and contemplating Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

Still, it gives me something to look forward to and I feel safe in the knowledge that these feelings will eventually subside – they always do. And when it does, I am always left feeling grateful that I have lots of people and things in my life to be thankful for…

What about you guys? What are your tips for dealing with depression?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

 

Image Credit: AJ Giel

 

12 thoughts on “Frustrations With The Black Dog – Freewriting

  1. Meditation, lifting weights alleviates it pretty well for me and knowing myself enough to know what triggers it. I’m fortunate in that it’s not as severe as some and I wish you well because of the positivity and insight you bring in your posts. Also I write every day, and mainly stick to poetry and blogging about the book I am writing.

  2. I can relate a lot to what you say and how you are feeling. Writing has always been a way for me to gain some relief by expelling the bad thoughts going on in my mind. But lately, I have also sat down with my journal and drawn a blank, and I agree, it’s incredibly frustrating.

    I have a few tools I use to help that may be of use, hopefully. When I get a pang of anxiety, I do a short deep breathing exercise; inhale fully right down to the belly, hold for a sec or two and then let it out as far as you can. While doing so, only think about counting – so inhale 1, exhale 2, up to 10. Repeat a few times and I find that calms me down.
    Also, there are some good guided meditation apps for phones and tablets, that only involve sitting/lying down and listening. I use one called Qi Gong Meditation which is free (or at least it was when I downloaded it), which has been invaluable.
    Then there’s just the taking care of yourself, doing things that gives you joy, like you say when you went to the new home store. Treat yourself to a hot bath, light some candles or sit in your PJs with some chocolate. Little things add up :).

    Sorry it’s been a long comment, but I hope it helps a little. It will get better though :). x

  3. When I get down and out like that I can turn to binge watching old TV shows that remind me of simpler times. For example, watching Buffy, Grey’s Anatomy, or even The O.C. can serve as a form of escape for me back to a time when life seemed more carefree. Another thing I can do is just immerse myself in old horror movies that I grew up with- generally creating the same vibe. It’s all about just being cozy and comfortable for me and then slowly the mood/feelings begin to pass on. It’s different for everyone on how to feel better- just know you are not alone and there are plenty of us out here for support 🙂

  4. Depression is a constant in my life. Like you, I started blogging to get it all out and it has been a great form of therapy. Art journaling is one of my healthier coping strategies. It helps me turn my brain off for a little while. Spending some extra time with my cat, Ewok, helps too. during one particularly bad down spell, I planned my next vacation. I did research on the internet and borrowed travel books from the library. It gave me something to look forward to, even if I couldn’t actually take the vacation for a couple years. Some of my less healthy coping mechanisms involve taking a sleeping pill and tuning out, baking a cake, decorating it and eating it (sometimes I share) or binge watching tv shows on Netflix. During my last bout of severe depression I watched all of Veronica Mars and Gossip Girl, haha. I loved Veronica Mars. It’s like experiencing some else’s reality for a little while.
    I hope you start feeling more like your happier self soon.

  5. I’ve been dealing with “The Black Dog” a lot lately, and I think it’s been a combination of things that has caused it: work stress, a traumatic break up, and the dark, long winter.

    For me, writing has always, always been my therapy. Lately though, I have been blogging about my frustrations. Instead of just journaling or writing poems no one will ever see, I publish some of my innermost thoughts, but with more creatively. It has helped tremendously so far.

    Besides blogging, I go out with friends and family. I rely on them more than I have in the past, and it makes me feel less lonely.

    I’m glad you write and open up about mental illness. We need to work to decrease the stigma that surrounds it. People treat it differently than being physical ill when mental health is just as important.

  6. I watch Band of Brothers when I get depressed. What those men suffered, and what they accomplished, gives me the perspective and boot in the…behind…that I need (everyone is different) to push back against depression and not sink further. Also, the lost boys of Sudan, another story of grit, gives me hope and joy. Depression is a hard thing to deal with. Good luck.

  7. Meditation,long walks, watching a show that makes me laugh, thinking about all the positive elements of my life and the people I love,sitting in the garden and watching the finches feed, listening to the fountain…….all help to one degree or another. I know the dark moments of the soul and mind can consume us, and we know it will pass, but in the meantime we need solace to ease the pain. I hope your moments pass quickly this time.

  8. Running does it for me. But I had knee surgery 8 weeks ago and yesterday learned no more running for 1-2 months, so maybe I should say running did (past tense) it for me. I’m terrified I won’t find another outlet. Thank you for speaking up.

  9. If ever I feel down, I tend to throw myself into working on some project that I may have going on until I past out and wake up the next morning having completely forgotten about the night before as I look at some of the things that I was able to accomplish…

  10. I have suffered from chronic low grade depression for most of my life. Antidepressants do not help me; I’ve tried them all. When I am feeling well, and am doing the things I need to do to take care of myself (eating right, exercising, keeping the house tidy and clean, keeping up with bills and paperwork, etc.), I always wonder why at times it’s difficult to impossible to do those things. When I am feeling down, I wonder how I am sometimes able to take care of myself and things. It’s hard for me to do the things to bring me out of it because at that moment, I don’t care. I hope you find what you need to do. On another note, I grew up in Fairfax, Virginia, which is 15 miles outside of Washington, DC. I cannot imagine anyone wanting to spend their vacation there. LOL!

  11. Your dopamine receptors need a hit, for me its the countryside or beach,thankfully where I stay the views are plentiful and ever changing.Go get the camera out and go find somewhere to fill your lens and fill your lungs of deep breaths of fresh air at the same time.Take time out!

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