Black Dog Howls


Trying to describe depression to someone who’d never experienced it is about like trying to describe a rainbow to a man born blind. Now to be clear, I’m not talking about a case of “my baby done left me blues.” I’m talking about “my baby’s right here and wonderful and I still feel like Keith Richards looks.”

First off, this crap is sneaky. I can be just Cadillacing along with everything shining and happy in the world and just like Mjolnir cracking a frost giant’s head, I’m in an unrecoverable flat spin — just like the one that killed Goose. Then you always think it’s going to be a short spell. Just sit down, play some Ugly Birds or read a funny web page or ten and it’ll ease. Unfortunately, when you try that and it DOESN’T work . . . you don’t go back to square one. You go back to square -1.

Then The Tape starts rolling. On good days, I can keep the tape stopped because once it ever starts, I’m in for a miserable ride. See, most people can go through a bad experience and it may bother them; it may even scar them, but normal people put that stuff behind them and over time its impact gets less and less. Normal people can read a news story about some tragedy with people dying or animals being mistreated and it may be a tearful moment, but they won’t dwell on it and obsess about what happened to that little girl or those puppies or whatever.

Not me. I have The Tape.

The Tape is in my head and it contains — in vivid Kodachrome and THX sound — all the bad experiences I’ve had, all the tragedies I’ve read about or seen on tv, all the worries and anxieties and The Tape is on automatic loop. All this garbage starts rolling through my thoughts. Forty years worth of “stuff” all trolling by in exquisite detail. It’s like picking at a scab over a stab wound, which would be fine if it only went by once, but I just keep reliving “the bad ol’ days” over and over again like some perverse uber-version of Groundhog Day.

Oh and I love it when I try to explain The Tape to someone and he or she says “Why don’t you try just not thinking about it? Wow! What insight! You should get the Nobel Prize for Psychology with a brilliant analysis like that! I am in awe of such mental perspicacity! I really appreciate that advice, Captain Obvious. What do you THINK I’m doing?! Seriously? I’m not a masochist in any sense of the word so if I were capable of “Just not thinking about it,” I wouldn’t HAVE this problem, now would I?

That’s what I love about mental issues like depression and OCD — they’re invisible so everyone’s an expert. Really. I mean, who would say to a paraplegic, “Why don’t you just try walking?” You wouldn’t go up to a blind person and yell in her ear (you know, because everyone YELLS at blind people since the apparently can’t hear either) “Well, why don’t you open your eyes and just TRY to see?”

It’s just the nature of the beast and this beast is a black dog who’s been on the Wild Hunt for a week or so now. After awhile, though, you learn to expect it and you pull out all your strategies that five years of therapy teaches you.

Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

Love y’all. More to come later on.

Keep those feet clean.

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