Banishing the Black Dog


I’ve been out in the garden this morning to dutifully take some photographs for tomorrow’s End of Month View.  Whilst it is blowing a gale this hasn’t normally thwarted my enthusiasm in the past so to feel that I had to make myself go out added to my general feeling of melancholy at the moment.  The photographs I started to take really reflect how I find myself increasingly seeing the world.  However, and there is a big however self-realisation is a powerful tool against depression and melancholia. I am well aware of my tendency to let the black dog through the door and I generally recognise the signs of it creeping up on me but this only works when you have had time to think clearly and this luxury has been in short supply lately.


My current struggle is more of a struggle with a complete lack of self-belief and confidence.  I have never been a confident person and find myself time and again deferring to others and then being irritated with myself.  I have been through phases of having to work hard to deal with this and find ways of working through it.  On a normal day to day basis it doesn’t cause me too many problems and I manage it OK but over the last year work in particular has been incredibly challenging and over recent weeks it has got the better of me and my demons have found cracks to sneak through and play havoc.    I hate feeling as I have felt recently.  I have had to battle with not bursting into tears in front of work colleagues, I have felt vulnerable, I have found myself physically grieving for part of my former role as  it was my security blanket.


BUT I am lucky as I work in an environment where others seem to see something in me which I can’t see.  They have given me the opportunity to step up and take on significantly more responsibility and challenges not because they want to test me or catch me out but because they believe I am very capable.  I have been told by the big boss that they want to give me a chance to flourish, I have been told by the nearly big boss that I have been growing over the last few months since the box I was trapped in was opened, and that I underestimate the high regard my colleagues hold me in.  I have had a pep talk from the biggest boss about pushing out of my comfort zone, through my learning zone, and reducing my panic zone. I know it sounds all gobbledygook but the diagram he drew to explain made real sense.  Every one, it seems,  believes in me apart from me.


While I have been busy over the past 6 months dealing with the transitions, covering essentially 3 roles until a few weeks ago, and wondering what on earth the answer is to countless questions I have also been unconsciously putting up my self-protective barriers.  I have always done this at time of stress and unease.  I’m a natural loner, a real introvert, and I retreat even further when I feel threatened or vulnerable and I realise now that this is what is really behind my withdrawal from social media, first Twitter, then Facebook and latterly my blog.  Perversely due to my struggle to find anything in the garden to blog about, mainly I think because of my depression, I tried to find other inspiration which led to the attempt to do the blogging challenge which in blogging terms pushed me over the top!!


Yesterday, I went to the HPS group and was cross with myself, yet again, for not joining in the group discussion about a plant I grow which few do.  Mr Brown told me off, nicely, but he is right.  So it’s up to me now.  I have to pull myself together and start believing in my abilities and stop worrying that I will make a mistake, or look stupid, or upset someone.

Last night I went back on Twitter, very hesitantly as it can be a challenging place for someone of a fragile nature, but I was welcomed back and had a good chat with a fellow plant nut, something I missed. This morning in the garden after seeing the decaying roses and leaves I started to notice the new growth including the bulb above, which might be a Scilla autumnalis, and today I have written this post.  I have written it to tell myself off, to rationalise the emotional maze I am stumbling through at the moment and to try to make myself move forward.  Readers of this blog have always been incredibly supportive and I am not looking for more support or crying out for help – as I have said above I am not short of that both at home and work.  I suppose I am just throwing down a marker to myself that I need to move forward now.


19 Comments on “Banishing the Black Dog

  1. Out in the garden this morning,enjoying the ‘freash’ air and finding signs of Spring is a tonic for us all at this time of year,Helen.
    I have to say you have always seemed to be a confident and knowledgeable person to us

  2. As someone who has suffered from depression and lack of self-confidence for many years, I can relate to much of what you write above. I’ve also had everyone around me believe in me and my abilities, except for me. Depression can do that. Getting yourself out of that phase is very hard, and I admire your strength to write about it on your blog, which is a big step forward in getting yourself out of it this time. Hugs to you and be kind to yourself. xx

  3. Helen–I wish I could send you a dose of self-confidence, but you are right, you can only fill that cup yourself. I hope it helps to know, however, that you have lots of people behind you who wish you the very best. Though it doesn’t equate, last week while purchasing a new phone (which I really wanted, by the way) I nearly cried in the store because I was so overwhelmed by the technology. Even now, I will only ask my husband one question at a time about how this or that part works, otherwise I know I’ll have another brain freeze. It’s laughable, really, when I think about all the difficult things I deal with, but that’s life, isn’t it? The good and the bad are all mixed up together.

    • Hi Marian
      I did laugh when I read your comment as at the time my youngest was battling to unlock my ipad after I had messed it up completely during an upgrade. In the end he managed to unlock it but I have lost everything on it 😦

  4. I know just how you feel. Having had bouts of clinical depression and panic attacks over the years it is at times very hard to keep going. You are a beautiful person who deserves to be happy. Take one day at a time all will be well. Love Susie xxx

  5. Your blog was one of the first I found when I started to seriously cast around for fellow plant enthusiasts. It has been a guiding light.
    Welcome back.

  6. I do not have a blog myself and do not usually comment. I signed up to your blog about 2 years ago and had reservations about your garden, but two years on I think you have made it into a garden to admire and be proud of. The gradual alterations and redesigns have been enjoyable to watch. The blog itself is very interesting with a range of different garden subjects and I hope you continue with it.
    You are a very capable and knowledgeable gardener and do not let anyone say otherwise,

  7. I have personal experience of the Black Dog, and I know how hard it is to send him back out the door. But you will, and each time, perhaps, he’ll go further away and stay away for longer.

  8. You’d be surprised how many of us feel the same way. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you’ll come out of it again. The winter takes more from us gardeners than it does from most. x

  9. As a gardener, you well know – everything has a season. The Black Dog’s season will find its conclusion. If not – send him to our rescue, and we will rehabilitate him! Hugs to you. Be well.

  10. So good to have you back Helen. Reading your blog is one of my pleasures. Thank you.Take care.

  11. Love to see the scillia as it comes out! Maybe it’s a way of watching you ‘come out’ also? xx

  12. Hi Brian – Jeepers you are talking about Spring – you haven’t had winter yet have you? We down-under haven’t had summer yet and certainly not talking about autumn!

  13. Gardeners are a supportive community and as a group we share the realization that each of us has our own “black dog”, our own monsters that we have to wrestle. We are all complex, and layered like an onion; still it’s the flaws and our mistakes that make us interesting and compelling. Each of us writes the script for our lives and we need to include a little drama, a few tears, a sprinkling of laughter, and most of all a little suspense about the ending. When it looks a bit bleak write yourself a new ending and add a few new characters; make sure those new characters know how to make you laugh, even in your darkest moments.

  14. Plants are food for the soul. They will help you in the way no other thing can. The distraction and joy my garden gives me keeps me going when I am low. Self indulgent maybe but essential. Keep at it.

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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