Black Dog

I sat in the cafe on one of those grey misty rainy days while it bustled with vocal noise, almost deafening, while burning some reading time on Brands book, Revolution. For some reason I found solace from the stark picture painted of the one percent of the rich outweighing the collective wealth of the poor. It must have been the hope within the title with promises that seemed to lift me a little. It was at a moment when a man approached a couple opposite and asked if he could sit in the empty chair at their table. “Sure, of course.” said the woman. There was something warming about that little bit of stranger bond and politeness that I think we forget that still exists in this country, or at least in my principality, and then within less than a minute they were all in deep conversation. Strangers simply starting a conversation and having laughs. I miss that.

It does happen to me at times. Given how much I frequent cafes, devoting a certain high percentage of my wages toward caffeine, it’s not really surprising that strangers sit next to me and start a conversation. But since my return to full time work for an employer rather than myself the opportunities happen less. It’s not until you get out there own your own that you realise how much life passes you by while being stuck in an office working for other people on things that generally disinterest me these days. Office politics while the sun outside bring happiness to others. That feeling of excitement of a new venture that I could be experiencing rather than the stomach draining back aching trudge of a swivel chair.

This is what it feels like at the bottom of the trough of a few days or so of a depression. That slight turn to a lift on the graph of happiness. The uncertainty of whether it’ll go all the way back to a peak and whether I’ll end up burning that lift too quickly and nose dive straight into another trough. It’s at times like these I realise I need one of those sunny days on the grass of a park. Me, my clothes, a good book and may be a pad for ideas.

Within a few hours though I was in a deep low again. In fact for the next two days. If it wasn’t for two sunny lunch time days in the park with Russell’s book I’d probably be at the bottom of the Severn. May be not there actually. I can think of less terrifying ways to go even with the anaesthesia of depression. Feeling low just doesn’t do it justice. I could blame my current medication, my pending gender identity or even work but I just don’t really know the cause. It feels like a chemical imbalance inside. It feels like I’ve been burgled of my serotonin and the police have assigned it low priority. I sat in work on Thursday and for the whole day only spoke to one person who grabbed me for a quick request. I needed that time of solitude but on reflection it’s like looking at another person and not understanding why they’re in that place.

Darkest depths of a place where there was little fear of actually thinking there wasn’t much left in my future and that, well, may be this was the end of the film and the credits would roll on a headstone. Dreadful thoughts looking back – but it wasn’t the content of those thoughts that were frightful but the blasé attitude I had towards it. Lightly mulling over suicidal thoughts as if it were the new menu at the local Italian. Sure, I wasn’t walking over any large sea crossing bridges but how far is it from shoulder shrugging considerations to action. I’d love to say this was purely down to my unhappiness, not in my gender itself but the gender conflict, but I just couldn’t pin it specifically on it.

It was just a day in which the black dog had come to visit and hung around for most of the week. It didn’t even pop to it’s basket and give me a break it just hung around hour after hour in the tears hidden behind my cheek bones. Just as I thought each morning that I was feeling just a little better and that I might be on the rise out of this huge spiralling dip I would go over the top of the wave and back down again. I continued to sit in silence and try and ride through it. It might be time for change. May be a break from work to at least give my head some breathing space. I’ll certainly mention it to my doctor for my own sake.

By Saturday morning I felt at least some weight had lifted. That black dog had left but it’s fur was all matted over the carpet. My happiness in tatters on the floor and still none the wiser. An empty old back city lane amongst red brick buildings in gritty urban black and white setting with me in the centre and litter being thrown around my feet. So many ways I could describe how it feels but nothing would do justice to the indescribable empty emotion, lack of clear judgement and yet terrible non-physical pain.

May be this is all a result of combined life problems and they just happened to align in the space of a week. The fuse burnt out. At least today I have been able to breath.

One thought on “Black Dog

  1. You know Hannah I have heard a couple of friends talk of similar feelings and even my closest friend said something along the same lines. I have also been through periods of deep blackness and wondered if it was all worth it myself. I tell you the same thing as I said to my other friends, never do anything rash, make a phone call instead. There is always some one who will listen and I include myself in that offer.
    Of course I know that it’s difficult to see past the immenseness of it all when you’re in that state, all normal logic seems to be brushed aside in lieu of some other kind where all equations equal zero, but no matter how bad things seem to get though it is only temporary, troughs followed by peaks.
    I put my own periods of depression down to loneliness, but oddly I quite like being by myself, and so I wonder if it’s more about those periods where for whatever reason I forget how fortunate I am to have a few friends or maybe it’s where I have forgotten that I am in fact living a life rather than following some script where I have no control.
    After things get better I analyse what triggered the event and often I am surprised what insignificant things can set me off, and also how unreasonable it can make me become. My friend swears by her medication, what ever she is on. ‘It reduces the mood swings and let’s me cope’ she says, but I haven’t ventured into that avenue yet and I hope I don’t have to but I reserve the option to do so if things ever get as bad again.
    If I think about what makes me happy I suppose it’s my plans. I like to have things ‘on the go’, even if they remain plans for years. I sometimes have half finished projects waiting for completion for ages safe in the knowledge that when I finally do decide that the time is right to complete them that I will get enormous pleasure and satisfaction from it. It’s a little like the act of thinking about buying something is often miles better that the actuality of owning it though or maybe when you find a second hand one for next to nothing and you are happy to put up with imperfections as it was such a bargain.
    Of course there is a fine line between the excitement created by such things and the frustration caused by not having the means to carry out the plans, but when that happens it means thinking laterally and trying to modify the plan to enable it.

    A fine and thought provoking piece of writing Hannah, thank you for sharing.
    Take care.
    Debs x

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