Health & Wellbeing

The Black Dog

January 3, 2015

I thought I was doing okay off my anti – depressants, until yesterday when I totally lost my shit. On the back of two days of drinking, three swims and a few sessions at the new gym, a bunch of social activities and bad food, I woke up yesterday feeling awful. A sore throat. No energy. A cough. A very dark cloud hovered over my head. A sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I have not felt like this for a very long time.

We went for breakfast, the view was nice, but it gave me no happiness. I felt flat. I felt nothing.

2015-01-02 09.33.54

Because I am not very good at relaxing, I have this super crazy lengthy list of all the tasks I wanted to get done while on holidays. These include, re – potting the plants on the balcony, cleaning out the kitchen cupboards, washing the blinds and scraping the food fungi off the kitchen ceiling. (I really think these things need to occur, at least on an annual basis, plus I like a summer clean, it makes you feel ready for the year.)

Anyway, I digress. Yesterday was the designated fridge and kitchen day. Even though I woke up with razor blades in my throat, nothing was standing between me and that kitchen fungi. The Husband in the meantime is reading on the couch, frothing out in front of the air con, while I am knee deep in the kitchen scrubbing away like a mad woman. He is saying ever so gently “babe, you’re not feeling well, why don’t you just chill for a bit and do that another day”. Sensible right?

But this is what I planned! How dare you!

Then there is a monster eruption.

I sit up quickly, accidentally bashing my head on the top of the fridge, then there I am sitting on the floor, HOWLING in a pile of vegetables and stainless steel wipes. “You don’t love me anymore”. Waaahhhh. “Why don’t you just go out, then you don’t have to be near me”. Waaahhhh.  “Put your headphones on and block me out like you always do!”

I am totally in the cray cray zone now, nothing can stop me.

I took the rubbish out to the bin, and stood in the driveway, howling like a banshee. (Sorry neighbours.) The Husband tried to coax me inside to stop crying, meanwhile the cat started meowing off the balcony because she thought I was being murdered.

I could not calm down. All I could see and feel was black.

I knew my thoughts were irrational, but they just kept coming. 

Eventually I came inside and calmed myself down and went to sleep for a few hours (like I probably should have done in the first place). I woke up feeling much better and sheepishly apologised. That was not the real me, that was the crazy version.

I vowed to take better care of myself, to write more, eat healthily, meditate and listen to my body, if I am going to kick this thing drug free.

Today I am left with the question, is it possible to go of anti-depressants and manage depression yourself?

I lived my life without them for a very long time. I managed anxiety without them for a very long time.

Is it okay to have days like this when you bawl and bawl and for no good reason?

Why does The Black Dog  rear its ugly head again?




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  • Mish

    I do think you are being incredibly hard on yourself but I do understand completely. I was diagnosed in 2004 with an anxiety disorder accompanied with mild depression and i too struggled with the ‘is it just a bad day’ or a relapse???? Hell, I still struggle with it!
    My long road to recovery involved relearning that bad days are just that. A bad day. One bad day does not equal relapse and EVERYONE has ‘meltdowns’. Reading your story I feel like it was just a bad day. Stop being hard on yourself and critiquing and classifying each behaviour. Let it go, it is in the past.

  • KP

    A fellow Can Tooer sent me a link to your blog. I’m an ocean swimmer who got through panic attacks only to be diagnosed with bipolar. It strikes me that you are being incredibly hard on yourself. I constantly remind myself to breathe and repeat. When struggling with swimming, mental health or life.

    Breathe. Repeat. The rest will take care of yourself.

    Worth checking in with your treating team about your concerns. With any medication change I increase the frequency of my appointments because questions do arise.

    In terms of relapse vs bad day, I measure my mood daily on a scale of +/- 4 with normal being +/- 1. A week of +|- 2 and I raise a pink (as opposed to red) flag.

    • Thanks that is an awesome strategy. I am actually a mental health social worker. Great at giving advice but not so great at listening to myself…

      • KP

        How’s the black dog treating you now?

  • Fuck the black dog!

    Yikes – I relate to everything you said in this post. Stupid brain-chemicals – once they trigger an “attack”, there’s no stopping them…


    • I know but hoowwww do you know if it is a bad day, or a depression relapse? I am monitoring my mood at the moment, and on a clean eating/ meditation/ training plan. Giving myself till the end of the month.

      • Yeah, and Christmas / New Year can be emotionally exhausting too… I think you’re right… just keep monitoring and see if things improve 🙂

  • Sorry to hear that you’re having a tough time again. I recently attended a workshop about this. They had some great thoughts about using herbs and natural supplements to manage anxiety and depression (in conjunction with anti-depressants as well). They suggested a blood test to help identify your levels and then to work alongside a naturopath as well as your doctor to combine the two processes – apparently they’re seeing much better results this way..

    • I’ve had some success with Rhodiola, but everyone is different – I certainly wouldn’t say it will work with everyone, but it has made a big difference in my life.

    • I have not tried this as yet, but I have a friend who swears by it! Might give them a whirl – at the moment just monitoring myself to see if it was a crazy day or if the black dog is back! Thanks Hope XX