Walking with the black dog again; being kind to myself.

I had a long chat with my GP today, he was really helpful, over the last couple of months, and particularly after Christmas I have noticed my mood becoming lower and lower, , to the point where I have to make myself get up, go for walks, eat properly etc. I am struggling with the getting out bit today, but am going to try after lunch, I definitely sleep better when I have been out, and the sun is shining so….

It was good to be really listened to, and he really took the time to do that, and we then went through my day, looking at putting in a routine, I do have one, but it is not the healthiest, especially as I often take some time to get dressed! So no more sitting about in a dressing gown until mid-day or later. We talked about meditation and mindfulness both of which I am finding hard at the moment, be a bear of very scattered brain, but I am going to start with a very short time and build on it. We also talked about eating properly, trying to establish a sleep pattern, so when I wake at 4am, I don’t get up! We also talked about talk therapy and medication, so while I am currently seeing a counsellor he has recommended a slightly different approach, and I am getting started on medication again.

I was really pleased that he took a significant bit of time to listen and understand, noting that each time I have had a period of prolonged depression in the past there has been a significant trigger, just as there has been this time. Finally he reminded me to be kind to myself, and set a time and date for a follow up appointment in two weeks.

The reminder to be kind to myself, that while trying to live well and healthily is good, that I mustn’t get into a common habit of mine, beating myself up, calling myself useless, and giving up, if I miss a walk or struggle with meditation. When I look back I feel that I should be coping, that I have nothing to be depressed about, that I am actually quite privileged, well very privileged, and yet I struggle, but today when I told my story, he remarked that he was unsurprised that I am struggling, and how reaching out for help was a strength.

I can say now, that reaching out for help, admitting that I am struggling, and even writing about it now doesn’t feel like a strength, and I am certainly not attention seeking, those who really know me will know that I would much rather put a brave face on things, and that I am quite accomplished at doing so, rarely does the mask of competency slip, and if you ask me how I am I am likely to tell you that I am fine, and I certainly won’t want to talk about what I am writing about here! That said, yesterday I made a video while I was walking, and I was bowled over by the kind and generous comments it received. I have no doubt there are some who think I should pull myself together, but I am equally grateful that nobody commented as such.

Interestingly my GP asked me if my faith helped me, and was pleased when I said yes, and that I particularly find the Psalms helpful, those that start as Psalm 55 does:

Give ear to my prayer O God, do not hide yourself from my supplication….

Or as Psalm 57 does:

Be merciful to me O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge…

So often the Psalmists cry out from dark and difficult places, choosing to set their eyes on God, even when bringing complaints or crying out where are you, or why have you abandoned me? I have looked for where God is in all of the change and confusion of the last few months and I know that my story is different to the story of others who look at the situation from a different perspective, and yet God is the same God, and I have to conclude that none of us but God see the whole picture, and it is not a matter of right or wrong, but a matter of trust, that through it all the divine purpose will be worked out, My GP reminded me that this will pass, taking the first step to ask for help was just that a first step, so it is with prayer, my prayer times at the moment are not elaborate, I may just light a candle and watch it as I drink my coffee, I listen to the Pray as You Go App, because it does the work for me, and sometimes it sinks in and sometimes it doesn’t, I am not expecting a magical cure, but there is comfort in the routine of it. I will try to not beat myself up if I miss a day!

So, I am walking with the black dog again, at the moment he is suggesting that I go back to bed, or curl up in front of the TV, he is also whispering that I am being selfish and self indulgent! I hope I am not, if I am I apologise.

This I know. All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well…

About Sally C

How do I describe myself, I am not what I do, (I am a Methodist Minister), I am not who I am related to (I have 5 wonderful children, 2 lovely granddaughters and 2 lovely grandsons). I am a seeker truth, a partaker of life in all it's fullness and a follower, sometimes stumbling, sometimes celebrating of the Christian pathway. I seek wholeness, joy and a connectedness to all things through a deep reconciliation with the God whose love blows my socks off! I love walking, swimming and photography, I dabble with paint and poetry...
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2 Responses to Walking with the black dog again; being kind to myself.

  1. Robert Bridge says:

    Not sure I am allowed to comment – new to this blogging! Wanted to say that I have been there and, with considerable support, I came out the other end! The interesting thing for me is that the process was deeply based on the realisation that prior to all religious, even theological, thought, and prayer, I found an ethical spirituality that made sense of the confusion, doubt and depression and led to faith in the benevolence – the essential goodness of God. It seems trite really, but I found that my “salvation” was in orientating myself outward – towards others. No longer spending time in contemplation, even prayer, I turned from being an inward looking person to becoming obsessed with others and the other things around me – alterity! The amazing thing is that in having a positive mental attitude to life and caring for others (which I translate into loving God and loving my neighbour as I love myself), I found forgiveness for my past mistakes, courage to face the obligations of the present day, and hope for the future. This is, and was, a wonderful revelation and something of a mystery to me! What was even more amazing was that I found this ethical spirituality described by Levinas, Rahner, Caputo and others. Depression is now a part of history for me and my “salvation” was secular in that it is prior to religious theorising. So I say that for me God ONLY arises in the context of my ethical concern for others. Every conversation with others presumes the fact that we are a three-some; me, God and the other, and that all that matters in life is to love and be loved! I can live with that!


  2. Robert Bridge says:

    Here is a poem I wrote about mourning. Is mourning reactive depression? I don’t know and does it matter whether it is or not anyway?


    You have gone.
    Our intense world stretched high and as far as forever
    But now it has gone.
    It wasn’t your leaving, but my endless arriving at
    This world where you have gone.

    The colour has gone.
    It is a grey tasteless pain of a world
    Flat like wet cardboard, rotting, dying
    Now you have left, and I have
    Found a world in which you have gone.

    You have gone
    In your place grows a place full of raw meaning
    A stinking pit of vast and profound otherness.
    Not in the world you left, but in this new world
    This nothing world in which you were gone.

    Where has sanity gone?
    Will this heart burst its bony cage
    Will its pain redeem this horror?
    What can be the point of pain in a pointless world –
    An ache of a world in which you were gone?

    But here is mystery;
    I search the strange space of your absence and
    In spite of all the emptiness, in spite of all the pain
    Within my heart so lost in love
    I found a love of everything.

    R Bridge 2009


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