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I think I need to keep my black dog

For sharing your experiences and feelings about mental illness
motherofrage
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Sep 26, 2014 11:22 am

I think I need to keep my black dog

Postby motherofrage » Thu May 07, 2015 10:42 am

Hi,
Sane regularly posts messages on facebook about getting rid of your black dog, and somehow that never feels quite right to me. I don't mean that I enjoy being I'll, but I'm trying to get used to the idea that my anxiety and depression are part of who I am, and that there are strong (if not exactly "good") reasons why that is so. In some way I feel almost protective of my black dog, as if an attack on her is an attack on me. I just don't want her to hurt me, I suppose, but I just can't imagine simply kicking her out. Does anyone out there understand what I'm talking about, or have I just got it all completely wrong?

christabel
Posts: 2110
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2014 4:49 am

Re: I think I need to keep my black dog

Postby christabel » Thu May 07, 2015 7:14 pm

Hi there

How are you? I can understand what you mean. You are the person you are because of your depression. It is what make you the nature of you.
Judging by the post that you read on her people that have MH problems are the most compassionate, understanding people that you are likely to meet.

Take care

sedge
Posts: 165
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2015 12:24 pm

Re: I think I need to keep my black dog

Postby sedge » Thu May 07, 2015 7:34 pm

Hi there
I think your right, I held on to the hope I could rid myself of the depression but now I see that it's part of me. Sometimes it's severe other days it's mild. It's about weathering the storms and enjoying the normal days

markh
Posts: 65
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2014 1:47 pm

Re: I think I need to keep my black dog

Postby markh » Thu May 07, 2015 11:04 pm

What's helping to see it that way?
Self Compassion! It opens the way to self healing.
Its not so much that you have accepted the depression in your life, but you have come to a place where you understand that it has been there a long time, that there isnt a cure, but there are ways of coping!
Its being honest with yourself, not quite humbling yourself, acknowledging that its there, its been there a while and will affect you at times, but you can learn to make coping strategies to help yourself through it. You can then move on and adapt yourself to learning how to handle that Big black dawg!
My counsellor said to me today, in response to something i said about the white dog and the black dog; the white dog will hop up onto the chair or sofa with you, will tell you its okay to be where you are, its okay to feel the need to be quiet, its okay to feel hurt.
The black dog knows that there are things that can be done to cope, such as breathing and tensing/relaxation exercise, dealing with thoughts etc; but says,"NO, i'm not doing any of them, i wont relax, i wont breathe deep, i wont get help; i'll sit here and wallow"!

Thats allowed! You are allowed to wallow, You are allowed to feel the pain, you are allowed to be sad, you are allowed to be alone, you are allowed to feel grumpy and sorry for yourself! Its all part of the healing.

Its not okay to let the pain, the hurt etc take over your life, and do nothing to stop it.

I think that to feel the pain etc, is to acknowledge that its there, what the pain is, and what you are going to do to help relieve it. The self compassion says yes you can do that, yes, there will be times when you need time on your own, yes you allowed to feel unwell, yes, you are allowed to feel sad and upset, yes you are allowed to cry, and this helps in the healing process, its facing facts and moving on.

Hope you understand what i'm trying to say! lol ;)

motherofrage
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Sep 26, 2014 11:22 am

Re: I think I need to keep my black dog

Postby motherofrage » Fri May 08, 2015 8:06 pm

Hi
thank you so much for your responses! It's good to feel that I'm not alone, and not a freak for feeling the way I do. I think - hope, really - that I'm beginning to get better, I've been on citalopram for a couple of months now, and I'm going back to work full-time next week. I'm not feeling so overwhelmed by everything anymore. But the most important thing for me is therapy, and that's where I'm just beginning to think that it really is ok to feel frightened, hurt and weak sometimes, and not something to feel guilty or ashamed of (which I have been doing a lot). At the moment it's all still a bit tentative, and I get very tired from the endless thoughts, and tense with all the anger and pain. The thing that helps me most is reading, if I find the right book it can really take me out of myself and still help me understand myself better. Tai Chi and knitting are good, too. But sometimes only being on my own with a bottle of wine gets me through and tonight is going to be one of those times...

christabel
Posts: 2110
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2014 4:49 am

Re: I think I need to keep my black dog

Postby christabel » Fri May 08, 2015 8:36 pm

Hi there

A lot of truth in what you say. Rough storm but hopefully you are coming through Mark.

Well done coming this far MOR

Take care

markh
Posts: 65
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2014 1:47 pm

Re: I think I need to keep my black dog

Postby markh » Fri May 08, 2015 10:03 pm

motherofrage wrote:Hi
thank you so much for your responses! It's good to feel that I'm not alone, and not a freak for feeling the way I do. I think - hope, really - that I'm beginning to get better, I've been on citalopram for a couple of months now, and I'm going back to work full-time next week. I'm not feeling so overwhelmed by everything anymore. But the most important thing for me is therapy, and that's where I'm just beginning to think that it really is ok to feel frightened, hurt and weak sometimes, and not something to feel guilty or ashamed of (which I have been doing a lot). At the moment it's all still a bit tentative, and I get very tired from the endless thoughts, and tense with all the anger and pain. The thing that helps me most is reading, if I find the right book it can really take me out of myself and still help me understand myself better. Tai Chi and knitting are good, too. But sometimes only being on my own with a bottle of wine gets me through and tonight is going to be one of those times...



Hi there, have you ever heard of CBT?
Among other things in it are relaxation techniques, i'll go into that later.
I notice that you mention the endless thoughts; in CBT, you learn how to handle the thoughts, you develop a better and more effective thinking strategy. Sounds technical, in fact its quite easy. All you do is assess the thoughts; firstly you just acknowledge them, just that you know they are there, and you let them come and go; just like sitting on a beach with a light wind, and listening to the waves crashing and receding! Can you hear the waves?
Dont argue with the thoughts, but you can learn to challenge them; you get a thought for example that everything is going wrong and its going to be a rough day, i'd say thats a negative thought, Its not helpful and I wouldnt even answer it; just let it drift away!
a thought arises saying that you'll be fine, you will be relaxed and the day will go well; that is the kind of thought you accept, its a positive thought and can be embraced, dont challenge it, just let it be, enjoy it. Its a helpful thought.
In time, you will become a good thoughts detective, able to quickly distinguish your helpful thinking styles from your unhelpful ones, and allowing the thoughts just to be, "i can do this, i can cope today" is a helpful one so you allow it to surround you, and enjoy it.
I know that what i have described sounds a bit airy-fairy; but believe me, this works and the more you practice it, the better you will get at it, and it will be much easier to cope as your thinking style will have changed. You will always get thoughts, but this helps you to control them.

For relaxation, i do the deep breathing and there are a couple of examples to use.
The standard one is to sit down, take the weight off, preferably an upright chair, but its possible as long as you are sitting. You breathe with your tummy; not your chest, and to achieve this, you put your two hands on your tummy, so that the tips of some of your fingers touch each other. Breathe IN, steadily and allow your tummy to inflate like a balloon; your fingers will lose touch with each other, and this allows you to feel that you're doing it correctly.
Now steadily let that breath OUT; your tummy will deflate, and your fingers will touch each other again, so its IN, steadily; hold it a second or two, and steadily let it out.
Practice this, and spend maybe 5 mins or so or until you start to relax, when you breathe out, you should before long, be able to feel as if the tension is being expelled along with the breath out!
Another way to do it, is to put one hand on your tummy, and the other on your chest.
If the one on your chest shows movement, then you're doing it wrong; you breathe using your tummy; breathe IN steadily, and see the balloon inflate and your hand rise with your tummy. and like-wise when you exhale you will see your hand come down with your tummy.

The reason i like this one, is that if I see the hand on my chest rise, then i'm not breathing correctly; breathing with your chest, will speed up your heart, which is the opposite of what we want; were trying to relax, so we want the heart to slow down.
This is one of my favourites, and I try to use it when i need to, its a good technique.

The next one is tensing, and relaxing.
You can either lie down or sit with this one. Starting at the top; your head, you really scrunch up your face, furrow your brow etc, hold like that for a second or two and then steadily let it go; back to your more beautiful looks! Now the shoulders, pull your shoulders up and your neck down into your shoulders, and hold a second or two and then steadily let it go. You can move to your arms if they feel restless or tense, and do an Arnold Schwarzenegger, with both arms at once, hold, tighten, even clench you fist; and release. Your hands next, you can clench them, and open them as wide as they can go, or just one of these, hold, and let it go.

Moving down, to your tummy and chest, holding your breath helps this one; pull your shoulders back and strain your rib cage, tighten your tummy muscles and lol, clench your buttocks (not with your hands!), hold it, and let it go. :lol: :lol:
Now your legs, tense up every muscle in your legs, thighs and calves, until your foot rolls up your toes. hold, and let it go.
You can do your thighs and calves separately if you want, if you find that easier.

Now your feet; flat on the floor, lift your toes up, and pull them in; you will feel the tension in your lower calves, and your feet and toes; hold, and let it go, nice and easy!

How do you feel??
Its a good one, because when i get nervous, my legs tend to jiggle, most guys do this, it helps me to relax by (sitting down) putting my feet flat on the floor, and push down hard on them with my thighs, and holding it a second or two before letting it go. This whole exercise (head to toes) is also very good if you cant relax, to go to sleep, either on your back, or on your front!

I recommend you try these; they do work. My counsellor taught me them, and they all work! They will help you to relax, stay calm, and able to concentrate on those thoughts! ;)

If you ever get angry, so angry you want to roar; try a Samson (of Samson and Delilah), yes i mean it! Find a suitable solid wall, and put both hands on the wall, and now try and push the wall down! Push as hard as you want, feel the stretch in your calf muscles, and then rest; still feel tense? Do it again! You should start to feel the anger in your body start to dissipate, and few slow deep breaths, and your there!
GIve them a try over a few days when needed; let me know how you get on! Have fun! :)

motherofrage
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Sep 26, 2014 11:22 am

Re: I think I need to keep my black dog

Postby motherofrage » Sat May 09, 2015 9:07 am

Hi Mark, and thank you so much for taking the time to write! I agree that breathing and relaxation are really, really helpful - the techniques you describe are similar to some of my favourite qui gong routines. I've thought about CBT, and I've talked to people who have tried it, and I'm very sure it's not for me. The thoughts and worries I have are connected to real events, and to what always felt to me like my failure to cope with them. I think CBT just reminds me too much of the kind of response I used to get at the time: "just don't think about it", "don't make such a fuss" etc. I'm afraid just the thought of that makes me angry (even though I can appreciate that CBT is about breaking the power of negative thinking). I'm seeing a psychodynamic therapist, who tells me very little, but who listens to me, takes my thoughts seriously and tries to understand what the world looks and feels like to me. I can't describe how much that means to me. It's slow and painful, but his acceptance is beginning to make me feel less like a failure for being frightened and weak. I suppose that is what you were talking about in your earlier comment about self forgiveness?

markh
Posts: 65
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2014 1:47 pm

Re: I think I need to keep my black dog

Postby markh » Sat May 09, 2015 9:53 am

Yes thats fine; CBT isn't for everyone, as you have indicated in your post to me. Its only scratching the surface- its not a deep therapy, but it is useful; it gives you lets say, "a toolbox" (metaphorically) which you can take around with you, and use when you need to.

Glad youre in some therapy, i have been in counselling now for three and half years now, i have some very deep seated issues from childhood (im nearly 52), and we are getting to those now.
Therapies all differ, i am in counselling, with CBT based work and some EMDR, and it does help me alot. Its less obtrusive than other forms of therapy, more gently and patient based, as it moves with me; i dont trail along in its wake, and it goes at MY pace. I need that responsive therapy, as i need feedback, someone to help explore what i'm feeling, and to listen, and to tell me what i'm going through, and what we need to do. She will interpret what she hears into a a language i understand. The is great, very professional, kind, gentle, firm, understanding, and that is a real support for me.
Thanks for getting back to me, all the best on your "journey", take care. Mark.


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