A good, trusted and close friend, responded to an email I sent him along the lines of this note. I sent it in confidence. He said I should share it. He said it would help others.
As always, our great fear is even if we have things under control, the perceptions would be otherwise. I have reservations, but I also have great faith in my friend’s advice that there are others who might benefit from a simple conversation about accepting the process of walking the Black Dog.
If I have learned one thing from my clinical psychiatrist from 2 years of treatment and rebuilding, its OK to talk about this stuff if the people you ask respect your reasons and motivations.
3.5 years ago I hit a brick wall mentally and emotionally and could find no way out. A messy meltdown resulted and my loving family picked me up, and frog-marched me off to a GP, where I began a journey of discovering a lifetime of sadness, grief, anxiety and depression. 2 years with a professional who helped me unlock things from the darkest, dampest trenches of my mind has resulted in my being able to see light above those trenches. I am learning to deal with and do things with that light.
I remember half way through my time with my psych saying "I just want to be normal again" . Her response to me was "What do you consider to be normal?"
So life now is about finding a "new" normal, one that recognises that I will probably always walk with that fabled Black Dog, but with good support, and appropriate medication, it (so far) no longer walks me.
Some will look at me incredulously; in possible disbelief. Quite reasonably. No outwardly visible signs. No strange (or more than usual strange!) behaviour ..... ("Is he making it up?")
The stigma of shame and fear of judgement, being self-indulgent and being considered weak, flawed, often drives us to be adept confidence tricksters. And the fear of under-performing, making excuses and letting people down, drives us even harder.
Part of being in the light now is being able to trust people with your own story of the journey. I am very much more in control of who I am, what I am and what I feel. I am one of the lucky ones. I had a family who loved me and cared about me. I had access to the best of professional help and support. I have the best of friends and working environments.
And the point of this message?
Many others are not so near as blessed and fortunate as me. The scourge of those dark demons in people's heads pervades modern society and is a particular issue for some much younger than me.
Beyond Blue is very much the vanguard at the battlefront. If we are to continue the battle against those dark damp trenches in people's minds and the packs of Black Dogs that roam unleashed amongst us, then Beyond Blue really needs our support.
A group of very caring, enthusiastic and driven people, (led by a person who understands my little journey because she has also survived much more than me), have come together in a community called "Evolution Runners" Yes, they run, regularly :-) Now, so do I. We raised a lot of donations for Beyond Blue from the wonderful efforts of our coach, Louelle Blanchard, and the support and generosity of the Evolution Runners family.
Please forgive my long note, but it is my way of saying that because of the work of organisations like Beyond Blue, I am back on my feet. I am an example of what can happen when things "go right".
My very humble request is to ask you to consider a small donation to Beyond Blue, not for me but for others who by rights, should have the same opportunities and support that I received. I am now strong enough to say that what happened to me is real, it is an illness, and it can be treated successfully.
Please join me in helping those who are helping those many others who are yet to start that journey into the "new" normal.
My grateful thanks