the odd chronicle

February 17th - 19th 2006

copyright don oddy

~ Black Dog Appraised ~

a part of the daily grind

A bad cold over the last few days has certainly had an impact on me. Getting about generally has been difficult and writing a few words a day here on the net.

So it’s a couple of weeks into my regime change and the move from one medication to another is certainly providing me with challenge.

For several weeks prior to this change, my mental faculties have been the best for some years. An ordinary feeling of ordinariness. Experiencing life ordinarily!

This is an achievement for me, with clinical depression, which has the most adverse and devastating consequences on mood and ability to deal with the day to day. Indeed, when depressions are at their lowest, the mood is abominable. And when through good therapeutic management, ordinariness is achieved, the world is truly remarkable and living worthwhile!

The problem for me however, with my regime working well for clinical depression has made another condition, type 1 diabetes become problematic. And as a consequence, medications are being adapted to help me (enable me) manage both my clinical depression and my type 1 diabetes.

Right now, it’s the middle of this regime change, where the therapeutic benefits of one medication are at their lowest and the new one to be started. This means my other therapies are critical to help manage my way through dark times.

By dark times, I mean the depressive moods are here, the insomnia is here, and the unhelpful staccato thought processes malinger and undo me as fast as I try to keep my emotional balance.

Churchill referred to his depressive episodes as “black dog”. This somehow gives the impression that depression is something we can understand as separate from us, as if it were akin to a gunshot, a malady with detachment. As if we were observing ourselves going through something.

My loss of ordinary, even though its only for a time, is without doubt very disturbing. Imagine a day where things are going badly and whatever we do, we find it impossible to make good. That all our solutions are without success, even when success is achieved, there is no improvement in mood or outlook. That we are struck with morbid sadness as we move through events. That the news and media give us more pitch in our temperament than ordinarily.

And as we are tumbling along with peaks and troughs, that ordinary events are alarmingly poignant, that our blurry connections have fiery feelings to them…

Its not the best of times, yet it is the best of times. This time I know what’s going on and I can make best use of my understanding and my therapeutic processes to tide me along.

Without doubt, the powerful intervention of the twelve-step recovery programme has helped me deal with these dark days. Maintaining routine, simple and robust activities, keeping everything in the day and not disturbing conscious thoughts with recollections and projections, past and future have had sterling results. At least low moods are confined to the moment and not building into mountains of worry and woe. And low moods so weathered are each as stormy as the moment provides without the horror of storage and speculation. Solid process and routine keep this calamity “day sized” and not “life sized”!

A great achievement where pain is not cumulative and overwhelming me currently. Formidable to deal with, and thankfully not long lived as before, where months of black dog would crush me completely…

And when I find ordinary again, where feelings are felt in their right measure, life will return to normality, ordinariness and dare I say it, happiness. Although there is joy a plenty even in depressive episodes, it is tinged with disproportion and periods so desolate, life is not preferable to the certainty of oblivion.

Easy does it I hear in my mind, and with care and attention and taking a breath to pause and reflect, holding off hare trigger retorts as reactions are prone to flare.

Older and wiser, as ordinary will obviously come back, where joy is just right and so is my sad. And with more time, balance will be restored. Keep up my breathing, my patience and simple routine. And with tolerance for being human my acceptance is back.

Some say it’s a day at a time when its as bad as can be, I say to the second will do when that moment arrives, keep it in the moment, this moment of now…