Black Dog Days

I suffer with depression.  Not to the degree I am on medication or in any form of therapy but I also don’t mean depression in the sense of feeling sorry for myself or a little down.

Many people don’t understand depression.  It is a silent illness, those with it rarely talk about it and many don’t even understand what they are experiencing.  Depression is difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it.  Depression is difficult to make sense of full stop.  I know when the black dog days are coming since one of the sure signs is that everything sounds loud  and irritates.  I hadn’t understood that this was an indicator for me until I read  Monty Don’s The Jewel Garden about 5 years ago in which he talked about his depression and how exaggerated hearing was an indicator.  It was one of those light bulb moments for me and I found myself nodding  as I read the book, finally someone else who experienced what I did.

For years my depression has been labelled as PMT  or tiredness bringing up two children on my own or feeling sorry for myself.  I was told to count my blessings, appreciate how lucky I was etc.  The trouble is depression is irrational and you know, if you are lucky enough to be able to recognise it, that it is irrational.  You know that you are seeing demons where there aren’t any but that doesn’t make them go away.  It’s not like a bad dream where if you open your eyes, read a book, the dream won’t come back.  You have to wait and go through it, you can’t fight it.  It’s like a kind of mist that clouds  everything but you can’t grasp hold of it as it slips through your fingers.

Monty said in his book that there are certain times of the year which are bad for him.  My depression hasn’t had a real pattern, well not one that I have noticed, until now.  I have today realised that the trigger, and there is often a trigger of some kind, for me is loneliness.  I am a single parent, a real single parent there were no weekends off while the visited their father etc. I am used to being independent and resourceful in fact I have prided myself on it.  I have worked hard to change our fortunes and I have always put  my sons first to get them established and following their desired careers.  There have been relationships but none lasted long.  I’m difficult.  I won’t play the little woman, I will stand up for myself  and I desperately need my own space.

But that is what is so strange as it is loneliness which now triggers my depression. I used to end relationships as I felt suffocated and losing my identity.  Now my sons are men and following their own lives and I find that I have more time to fill.  For the past  two or three years I have been busy rushing around visiting gardens, meeting people  to do with gardening etc etc.  It was a form of running away all to do with my sister’s death which I won’t go into now.  However, I have felt recently like I have turned a corner and can face day-to-day life a little more but this week I have realised that another problem has crept up on me – an empty nest!  My eldest lives at home but has been away this week and my second son although home from University has been working.  I have booked two weeks annual leave to use up holiday (I can’t believe after all those years off trying to stretch annual leave to cover school holidays I am now struggling to use it up) and the weather hasn’t been great and I am bored and lonely.  I am embarrassed at that – it is pathetic.  I am an intelligent capable woman I should be able to entertain myself.

But it’s not that simple, not when the black dog of depression is snapping at your heels.  The slightest thing that goes wrong becomes a failure on the grand scale.  I have been trying to knit a jumper for four months, I am good at knitting but this pattern has been a nightmare and today I have concluded it has a mistake somewhere and I am going to just give up – a failure.  I have decided to give up the allotment – another failure.  I’m dis-satisfied with the top and skirt I made over the summer and consider the amount of money I spent on them a waste – a failure.  I dislike my cottage garden border it is dull and empty and failing to deliver.  I go out in the garden when the sun shines and just can’t be bothered.  I have run out of books to read and can’t be bothered to get another one and then there was nothing to watch on TV for the umpteenth evening running.  I have no real friends so no one to go out with.  I am a failure – I will never be good at anything, I am just marking time, I might as well give up now.

My sons, bless them, understand my depression.  They know the signs as well.  They  give me space and then try to talk me back into the real world.  We talk about many things, we end up laughing about silly things, agreeing some people are idiots, etc.  They think I need a new hobby preferably one non-garden related. This is amusing when there is so much written about how gardening is good for you physically and mentally.  I would be the first to agree with this, I have seen the positive impact on my mother  but I think that as gardening is so much a part of me, of who I am, that when the depression hits you try to run away from who you are and that means running away from the garden – if that makes sense.  Maybe they are right. They tell me I am good  at things – the garden is often commented on, the blog gets lots of visitors, I did a good job bringing them up on my own etc but whilst I know in my sensible head that much of what they say is right it doesn’t make the mist clear.

Nothing makes it clear apart from time, rest and peace.   I need to try to let the mist flow over me and away and be kind to myself, this is not the time to make big decisions or commitments.  When the mist clears everything will be better, I will  feel more positive, my old self. But until then this is not a sensible logical time – these are black dog days.

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44 Comments Add yours

  1. This isn’t advice. Or if I were you … But, new hobby, lonely, leave to use up – could you find a course, over a few days or a week?
    Living in Switzerland I went to an evening class, over a few weeks, learnt to make straw stars. After a long working day, and commuting from Zurich, it took huge energy to actually GET to the class. My MIL said sadly, wished she’d done something fun, she went to learn English (for me – which I found tremendously, way beyond the call of duty, kind of her). Then there was the paper-making class on Saturday mornings. Again great fun, but I’m not a morning person and getting up EARLY again on Saturday as well, nearly did for me.
    I have that, noises are too loud times. Hadn’t thought of it as depression, more as if a layer of skin is missing, and everything, hurts a little.
    The knitting? I remember an early project, way back when I was at school. Grumbled because the pattern didn’t work. Then realised I dropped a stitch in the first few rows.
    Now we are in a small country town, life has changed, moved on – and blogging must fill that space for me.

  2. Paul Steer says:

    Yes, I identify with this, and is one of the reasons I started to write ‘Letters to Monty’. I can sometimes see beauty in my garden, but the next day it is all failure and disease and bad planting. You are right, depression has no logic. Hope you get that rest.

  3. Hilary Scott says:

    Ironically your loneliness is the part I recognised, even when the house is full I get that! And the everything is going wrong bit. It may be small reassurance that you aren’t alone in feeling this way sometimes, and actually you are coping, although it may feel rough. Thankfully through the fact we are able to talk about this via blogs might be a help. Not so long ago we would have had to use pen and ink and not had anyone to read it.

  4. Judy says:

    I can’t say I understand what you are going through so I will refrain from going any where near that. But, you list numerous things that you are proud of and will do more good things to add to that list – maybe just not right at the moment until you feel better. I have a certificate that says I’m an Advanced Master Gardener, and there is not enough space here to write about all my gardening failures. My mother was an expert seamstress – I’m average. So, I finished a tote bag today for my granddaughter and all I could see were the three or four places I wish I had done better. We’re all human, strengths, stretches and our ups and downs of life, so be good to yourself while you move through this period.

  5. Libby says:

    Take it from a fellow sufferer – you are not pathetic for feeling lonely and like a failure. Everything you say sounds so familiar. If you like internet hugs here are some (((((((patient gardener))))))) Sometimes it can be doubly hard when the thing you feel you’re failing at is something that’s ‘supposed’ to help. Can you do small nice things for yourself? Good chocolate, nice baths, friendly internet spaces? If there’s anything I can do to help please contact me, I can send you my email if you’d like. (I will quite understand if you’d rather not, so don’t feel obliged.)

  6. Helen says:

    I’m a complete stranger, living many miles away, with no children and I can’t knit, but I can relate to what you’ve written above, I understand what it’s like to have those black dog days. The description of the “mist” and the feelings of failure. You aren’t alone and you are far, far from a failure. After years of “getting by” I very nearly gave up on everything this year, that’s when counselling (CBT) was suggested to me. I didn’t have anything to lose, so I gave it a go. There was no having to recline on a red leather sofa, no heavy psychological discussion, no sign on my forehead saying “insane”, there were quite a lot of photocopied sheets and some “homework”, but so far it has been worth it. For the first time in goodness knows how long, I can look at myself and not see a useless waste of space, I can see possibilities and positives. It’s also given me the tools to deal with the onset of dark thoughts, or the lethargy, it hasn’t got me to sort out the garden 100% but then that would have been more like a miracle!
    From one Helen to another, take care of yourself until the mist clears and the sun comes back out, because it will, after all our name does mean “light”. Then the black dog with just have to go and chase it’s own tail. 🙂

  7. Victoria says:

    You’re right, nothing makes the mist clear. I think of it as walking into a cloud, like the way an aeroplane goes into a cloud. I sometimes feel I hate my garden and I hadn’t really thought about why until you said that running away from the garden was part of running away from yourself.
    I think that gardening can be good for people – physically – but it can also be demanding if you are feeling under strain for whatever reason. There always seem to be decisions that need to be made, or things that need to be done at precisely that particular time, not just when you feel like it. I find singing in a choir therapeutic because I don’t need to decide anything, or be responsible for anyone. Someone else is in charge. So I would suggest that if you’re looking for an activity, choose something like that – not necessarily singing, but something where you don’t have to be the one who has to make the effort.
    It is not being a failure to decide that something isn’t working. Some things work out, some things don’t work out. We learn a lot by trying things. You set yourself very high standards, and that will make you a great mother, a steadfast friend and a conscientious colleague, but you also run the danger (and I know this syndrome, oh, so well!) of thinking that anything that is less than 100 per cent is worth zero. There is a huge area in between. Love, V xxx

  8. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Yvonne – NZ – Boy of Boy – I’m not the only one! I am usually glass half full person BUT this week it’s been a glass half empty. We live in a flat under my eldest daughters big house and I have had nightmares for months and not slept well worrying if they are going to sell. We ‘lost’ all our money late 80’s and my husband being over 60 at the time we have not been able to get back to where we were. We have both worked – my husband still doing 12 hours a week doing accounting – he’s 81 – and I have been part time till 70 and now do jobs and cleaning for daughter to get extra cash! Our ‘pension’ in NZ is pretty small and if not savings b-hard!! I’m pretty sure they will sell as prices in this area are skyrocketing. I always say we are not their responsibility that we have no money – but- sure is scary!! We have a small bischonx dog who we just adore and she is only 4 years old so great company (part human). We have been looking into Govt and Council flats and we qualify for one. Some are quite nice and in good area BUT we are not allowed a dog!! My youngest daughter has an investment apartment and we can go there BUT accourding o the cross lease – NO dog. I can’t believe that I would feel so tearful, shattered, sick etc! As bad as marriage breakup (first husband) and going broke! I have made a beautiful garden in all my houses and treat a rental as my own – so make a good tennant.Being silly I suppose as it won’t happen before Nov and I am off to Brazil with No 1 daughter in 19 sleeps! BUT if sure has knocked me for six! Sorry to tell you my troubles when you are feeling down, but reading it made me realize I am also ‘depressed’. Have always manage to ‘get over it’ so with hard work and gardening and clearing ‘stuff’ books etc sure will ‘get over it’ again. You have impressed me with your lovely blog and I love it. Maybe I thought you were trying to be a ‘super worman’ at times!! Love Yvonne x

  9. Jamie says:

    Helen, an outstandingly honest post, and I am sure the flood of replies over the next couple of days will show you how much you are admired and appreciated. I also go through regular cycles of depression, thinking poorly of myself, and I can see them coming too. All I do now is tell myself never to take myself too seriously when I do feel that wave of depression coming on. I am sure it’s a physical thing, something gets out of kilter inside and it affects both our body and our brain, and for a short while, takes over.

    About two years ago I re-read Philip Larkin’s poetry book, ‘The Whitsun Weddings’ and one line in one poem hit me: “Something is pushing them to the side of their own lives.” I’ve had that feeling many times over the years, and that line resonated with me. So, I decided to take up collecting something that had always interested me. It doesn’t really matter what I collect (fortunately in my case I love the topic – a boy thing – and it’s not horribly expensive) but becoming a collector has made a big difference to me in the last few years. Seeing my collection up on the wall in my study, oddly enough, makes me feel I have moved back to the middle of my own life. It takes up a fair bit of my spare time, and most importantly I enjoy it.

    I hope you find something truly new and enjoyable to add to your wonderful involvement in gardening and blogging. You’re very good at both the gardening and blogging, and so don’t listen for a moment to that depressed little critic chewing your ear when you’re feeling down.

  10. Ronniejt28 says:

    From a fellow Black Dog sufferer I know only too well what you are suffering. Leaving a comment is not to make you feel better or cheer you up because if you are like me at the moment nothing will help. I have not read Monty Don’s book but am really interested in the noise thing. It drives me to distraction on the train and only recently I had the all consumming urge to stand up and shout “will you all turn down your music what do you think headphones were invented for?” but instead I curled up in the corner and steamed. My depression has taken grip at the moment I don’t like the garden, my job, my home, my sofa(!) and am taking a break from blogging. Yes it is to do with loneliness so I ask myself why then do I shut myself away from people when I feel like this – perverse! I too put my daughters first and at 61 am now really scared of going into my retirement years alone. However, I know the sun will come out soon I will bounce back and all will be good with the world…until the next time. Take care and remember you are loved.

  11. croftgarden says:

    This is a very moving and honest account. It would be easy to offer platitudes and well intended self-help remedies and coping strategies. There are many of us who read your blog who will understand and empathise with your struggles, even those who do not have a depressive illness have our dark periods. So I’m sending you smiles (real ones not virtual ones) in return for all the enjoyment you give me through your writing and wishing you well.

  12. Gwen says:

    Bravo Helen! I can totally sympathise with all your depression symptoms as I feel exactly the same at times. I love my collection of pelargoniums and can talk about them ’till the cows come home, but other days I think to my self “why?”. My depression is like MD’s – starts around end of October until mid- Feb. I do get lonely, but I also have a husband, who does not really understand, so it can be hard. Somehow being told to cheer up, or that there are people in this world worse off than me, really does not help. I hated it when my boys left home, but love it when they arrive with wife/partner and their children. Anyway, Helen, you are not alone, and I also send hugs to you.

  13. Christina says:

    Depression is the silent illness; but above you have so many people relating to what you’re saying. Those of us who suffer understand; others sympathise. You’ll come through to the other side and there is nothing you can do to start or stop it. Writing about it may help, but I doubt it. True suffers don’t even really want others to understand – more than the silent illness depression is the selfish illness but I think you know that too! I hope you come through this period soon and just try to be kind to yourself for 5 minutes, for an hour, for a day – whatever you can manage. Christina

  14. Alison says:

    A wonderfully honest and thoughtful post. You are a strong, independent woman, you show your strength in your courage to recognise and talk about this.

  15. elaine says:

    You can see from all the comments above that you are not on your own in this – I know that doesn’t help to make you feel any better – but it is a fact. I go through the same as you, but have never given it a name, thinking it was just me being weird. Obviously it passes and the sun comes out again, but the depths of despair do make you feel quite isolated. Keep your chin up

  16. I have lived with Depression for many years, but not me. My Mum and my Brother both suffer. Mum has gone now but my brother is a constant source of worry. He has had some very dark times but hopefully with my help has also had some wonderful times. I cant say I understand it totally, I know for him its a chemical issue, he has a Seratonin problem and suffers terribly in the winter. His solution has been drastic but it helps. He leaves the Uk in the worst of the winter months and goes to somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere. The improvement has been amazing. He still has the black dog days. I always know when they are because these are the days he reaches out to me. Your Sons must be lovely young men to help you as they do. Please know that although Most of us dont suffer like you, a lot of us understand and would do anything to help.

  17. I can totally emphasise with your honest open account of what you are going through. As you will make it through to the other side but I find its alway there waiting to pounce a small shadow in the corner of your mind that increases and decreases, I found your writing made me very sad but always remember YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE we all have to deal with what we are given and as you do that makes you a success.

  18. jenny says:

    Although my depression is heavily medicated, your description is just bang on. thank you for this post. xxx

  19. Lots of familiar things here. Such a good post. In a way for myself I found it comforting to realise that it is not something you can think your way out of – the black dog visits and he goes away again when he’s ready. I find forcing myself to do stuff helps, but getting overtired doesn’t.
    Gardening is such a solitary occupation, full of pitfalls, discomfort and opportunities to fail, but also providing delight and comfort, places of refuge and unexpected friendships – I think this may be part of the reason why so many gardeners seem to experience similar problems, especially on a seasonal basis. Is it because our tendencies seek this occupation or because this occupation increases the tendencies?
    Just cling to the fact that it DOES get better – and (as is bleeding obvious from the above!) you are not alone. Don’t be hard on yourself – you obviously have very high standards!

  20. I will only say Helen that the loneliness for me brings it on so much more than anything else…those retched dark, dark days when no one can understand the grief….the pain…I have no children and for me that brings it on more so I can only guess how awful it is for you as you miss them….I hope you can find that one thing that will bring a bit of light for a few moments of peace…

  21. Anna says:

    May the mist clear soon Helen and I hope that you follow your own advice of being kind to yourself. We are our own harshest critics. Take care ((((())))) ~ Anna xxx

  22. Darling girl – you are most definitely not alone – see my Blog http://hedgewitchandstitch.wordpress.com about my experiences – it might help you to know that when I’m in the grip of the Black Dog – my creativity is stifled so things you have given up on for the moment could be just laid aside and come back to later – sad for the loneliness – I’ve never felt that but I empathise with you – my trigger is insecurity regarding my own worth and the tendency to allow people to walk all over me or try to manipulate me – then I immediately go into victim mode as that’s how I’ve behaved for so long it’s instinctive – but I’m fighting it – and you will too – take care of you – xx

  23. Jennifer Finney says:

    Dear Helen, I am moved to tears reading about your black dog days and to be honest I hardly ever cry. Even though I don’t know you, I just want to give you a hug and tell you everything will be alright, but then again I don’t understand what you are going through. My partner tried for years to get me to understand about depression (the people suffering depression that he nursed, not himself) but I never had the time to really listen to what he was saying, but reading your blog has had a profound affect on me and at last I think I might understand. I’m a bit thick at any kind of analysis but Helen I think you set your standards too high and are always competing with yourself to reach your own high standards so accept that some days you are not going to reach them but that doesn’t make you a failure and anyway you are a winner to me because you told me my plant was Angelica when I didn’t know. On your bad days maybe you could shout your head off and play loud music and knock 7 bells out of a pillow until it passes. I will be thinking of you today.

    Jennifer

  24. Marijke says:

    Helen I think we don’t have any idea how many people have the same feelings as you do. I am so proud off you to write you feelings down on your blog. I tmakes people feel they are not the only ones who have there blackdog days. I hope the mist will disapear in short time and wish you all the best.
    Hugs Marijke

  25. Astrid Bowlby says:

    “not to the degree that I am on medication or in any form of therapy”, dear Patient Gardener, this is denial at its best. Please seek help for yourself. It is there, waiting for you. If not meds, then cognitive therapy for sure. You can take yourself in hand and help your body and mind get through the darkness, and, beleive it or not, get through it productively instead of it consuming you. Please do not discount this possible need without trying it. It is not easy. It is also worth it.

  26. Holleygarden says:

    Oh, I completely understand your situation. I, too, raised children alone, with no weekends off, and if I hadn’t found my husband a few years ago, I would be in the same situation. Friends are hard to make, and relationships are even harder. I can offer no solutions, but I do offer empathy. I hope you can find a way to ease your pain.

  27. I wouldn’t say I “suffer” with depression, but I definitely live with it on and off, so you have my full sympathy. I’ve been on meds for a while but decided life was more fun without them, so now when it comes sliding in I just batten down the hatches and wait it out like you do; it seems the best way to handle it is to just accept that it happens at times and then remind yourself that eventually it will go away again.

  28. alison says:

    I read your blog this morning and have been thinking about it (and you) all day. It was such an honest, heartfelt, brave account. Returning now to leave a comment and having read through all the wonderful, honest responses from so many people, (which have brought tears to my eyes) I feel there is little I can add. Except that I too have been through some pretty dark times and can relate and empathise absolutely with everything you say. You are not alone in this, as you will have discovered, and if you can find a way to accept that these feelings will emerge from time to time, I am sure you will be able to enjoy your garden, sewing etc in between times without telling yourself you are failure at any of them. Which you are clearly NOT!

  29. patientgardener says:

    Thank you all – I have been amazed at the level of response this post has prompted. I wrote it, as I often do, to sort out my thoughts and I hestiated whether to publish and then whether to leave it open for comments. I am glad I did as I feel that I have spoken for so many who struggle at times with depression.

    My depression is mild and generally not present so I feel that I can cope with it without outside intervention etc. I recognise the signs and I know that I have to just accept the occurences and work my way through it. I have good work colleagues who are mental health advisers and who I can talk to whenever so I have support if I need it. However, for me the outbreaks, for want of a better word, are normally a sign of something else that is troubling me so I try to use the depression to understand what the problem is and whether I can address it.

    Some people have commented that this was a brave post. I don’t think it was, well not for me. I don’t find it hard to write about these things as I have said it helps me. I also know from talking to my friends, the experts, that whilst many people keep their depression a secret, it is often when they seek help and can start to talk about it that it becomes more manageable. I also know that some sufferers have found it helpful to write about their experiences in a bid to share and help others – Monty Don, Churchill and Stephen Fry to name a few.

    If this post spoke to you, made you feel less alone, helped you understand a loved one then I am incredibly pleased.

    Thank you for all your support – today is a better day, after writing the post I slept well and feel able to move forward.

  30. I think everyone suffers through depression of some sort or another. I know I do. For me there needn’t be any triggers, it’s more of a physiological thing in my case. There is no explaining the feelings when depressed because like you said, it is illogical. The one thing that is logical though it that it will pass. It always does. Cycles of life are natural though not always fun. Hope you feel better very soon and am happy your sons understand and can help their mother who has surely sacrificed so much for them. hugs from Tennessee.

  31. wellywoman says:

    Great post, Helen. I’ve read Monty’s book too, well all his books and I agree they express what is actually so hard to express – what depression is really like. Your post does this, too. One of the worst things is that because they is no visible sign, like if you had a broken arm or something, that a part of you is still broken. And despite so many people suffering at some point in their lives it still seems a subject people don’t like to talk about. Monty says that when he is suffering he doesn’t know how to write about it and when he’s better he doesn’t want to dwell on it which is certainly something I empathise with.

    I moved 8 times in 7 years, lost touch with lots of friends and felt very isolated, I still do in some respects. Hypnotherapy has been a great help for me. I empathise with you about the increased sensitivity. For me it manifests itself in hypochondria, unfortunately, which makes for a great combination! I’m a bit of a perfectionist which means I often feel the same sense of failure you describe. Of course it’s completely out of proportion to the reality but that’s just how my brain chemistry works. I’m learning to try not to care so much, nothing is perfect. My heart sinks sometimes when I see my garden because it doesn’t look how I want it to look but I’m learning to live with it.

    The few people I’ve told have not reacted in great ways so I tend to not talk about it at all now. It’s frustrating.

    There are many things out there that can help CBT, hypnotherapy, herbal remedies but loneliness is the hardest aspect to deal with because it’s impossible to force friendships. If you haven’t tried some of the things I’ve mentioned give them a go.

    Hope ‘black dog’ leaves you soon. Best wishes, WW

  32. Christie says:

    Dear Patient Gardener, I understand your pain and frustration. I have those “black dog” days too. Life is a joy when they are not happening. I used to wish I was someone else but came to accept that they help to make up “me”. We often are too hard on ourselves, but we are what we are. A few years ago I read “Angels and Insects” by A.S. Byatt and in my little notebook of favourite quotes I wrote this from her novel : “You are accompanied through life, Emily Jesse occasionally understood, not only by the beloved and accusing departed, but by your own ghost too, also accusing, also unappeased.” Of course this might mean something else altogether, given our tendency to subjectivity, but for me it sums up things very well.
    I love your blog. It brings me great joy.

  33. kate says:

    Dear Helen,

    I want to reach out and give you a hug, or at least send you some virtual flowers.

    My whole family – well, the Irish side of it – suffer from horrible depression, to the point of hospitalisation. It’s a pig bastard buggery nasty horrible – well, whatever. All I can say is don’t push yourself too much and don’t beat yourself up too much (both of which are next to impossible, I know, when you’re in the black hole). And so what about the knitting? Every so soften you come across a pattern that’s just crap, and you need to unravel what you’ve done and start with something better; it’s not you, it’s whoever wrote the wretched thing. The border? Well, you’re not really making rational judgements when you’re depressed, so try not to think about it now, and above all don’t actually do anything about it… Please try and make the time to do something lovely for yourself, because it can really help. And so can CBT, which pulled my brother round – worth considering, perhaps?

  34. Big hugs Helen from your friend in Wales
    K
    xx

  35. hillwards says:

    Hope that the black dog stops snapping at your heels and wanders off again soon. Hold onto your achievements; the rest aren’t failures, just experiences. Hugs.
    Sara

  36. Thank you, it is really good to read such an eloquent account of the Black Dog, though I am deeply sorry you are suffering another attack. It is a vile feeling, when the blanket sweeps over everything clouding out the joy and humour. And I know exactly what you mean about loneliness, despite having TNG. Hope the fog lifts again for you soon.

  37. Donna says:

    Bit late but had problems with IT connection. Your writing is totally brilliant Helen, and the way you moved/touched so many people (judging by their responses) is proof of a rare talent. From your follow-up post I’m aware that the storm clouds have now lifted and the old dog has sloped off elsewhere for time being – so “no need to panic Mr Mannering!”. 🙂
    Best wishes,
    D

  38. Dear Helen, Your post struck a resonant chord. Both my parents, my sister, two out of three of my children all suffer — or suffered — from clinical depression. I’ve had bouts from time to time, but haven’t had to live with that incessant nipping of the black dog. For myself, I found CBT to be very helpful in circumventing the pattern and cutting through the mist. I’m hoping that the world comes to a clearer understanding of deep depression. In writing your story, you have helped many see they’re not alone.

  39. Dee says:

    I enjoyed your blog, I live alone, delighted to have been freed from a marriage where I had to be nursemaid and “a little woman” as you put it. I relish my soak in the bath, I adore my garden without having to explain my investment and time spent in it to a lazy partner who saw it all as a chore. I can honestly say its been 3 years without one lonely moment, there are so many books i want to read, trips i want to take, articles i need to write. this year sitting under the pergola i made with white alba roses surrounding me and Eating my own lettuce, grown in my own small walled 1/4 acre garden I suddenly felt perfect bliss. A bliss better than any orgasm or date that went well. I suddenly realised i had what many people are looking for, inner-peace, sitting watching my cat chase butterflies in spring!! I would have crawled over broken glass for ten years just to see that. In fact now the marriage that so many people envied, that i gave my soul to, over and over, feels like that. 10 years of crawling over broken glass.
    Financially my situation has never been so unsure, yet I have faith and relish every small treat I get, I have discovered who my true friends are, and dropped the rest, some of whom I fed for 30 years. I can finally say that word people are so afraid of saying, Im happy, yes Im happy, tomorrow I go into hospital to have a leg operation, miles from my family, but I have peace, because those who have looked into their own graves, are never the same. I know what I know and that is that giving back, sharing vegetables, baking a cake, and giving back even when you have so little is the secret to living well. It was this attitude that got a generation through a world war.
    My experience has been… if you feel down and depressed, give back in some small way, theres always someone worse off than you that you can cheer. Start visiting people in hospital, start doing peoples washing when they are sick, start loving what your garden gives you, and get a pet, the love of a dog or in my case my cat, will remind you that love is wonderful to give. You have grown children, they turned out OK, thats a big success right there.
    Stop asking why? and ask instead why not.

  40. janine says:

    Thanks for this. That’s all I can say at the moment, apart from – hope you are well and thriving.

  41. FlowerAlley says:

    I have my own black dog. You and I are very much a like. Thank you for such an honest post. Winter is a hard time for “us plant people.” I really do appreciate all your posts my dear blogger friend.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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