The Black Dog


It’s only now that I look back on that time and realise that yes, I was probably quite depressed. Even now I’m not sure that I was and I still find it difficult to admit to myself. Some may say of course that I’d have known if  I was, for sure. It wasn’t that I found it difficult getting out of bed in a morning and it wasn’t that I didn’t want to go out. On the contrary I did want to go out and I didn’t particularly mind where I went as long as I went somewhere. Talking and meeting other people wasn’t a problem either or taking photographs, my passion. I could do that all day, all week, all the time. If I was depressed it wasn’t the debilitating sort, and possibly although nobody close to me except the wife has stated it, realised I was. At least they didn’t let on if they suspected.

A lot of the time I was melancholy and tearful. When I wasn’t tearful and melancholic I’d be angry. Angry about everything. The state of the country, global warming, education, the National Health Service, bloody well everything. You name it, I’d be angry about it.  All those things I felt powerless to do anything about I’d be angry and frustrated about. I was difficult to live with, that’s for sure. The wife would say something perfectly innocuous and I’d get upset about it, like she was having a go at me.She was walking on eggshells with me.  I felt tired most of the time. Tired and useless. I felt that I ‘d gone through life and achieved absolutely bugger all. Nothing ! nada ! zilch ! There were times when I felt the wife, dog and all my friends would be better off without me, and I could see myself hanging by the neck from the loft rafters. The thing was I couldn’t articulate how I felt. I couldn’t talk about it because I just didn’t know what to talk about. I just didn’t want to talk. I wanted to be quiet, locked in my own thoughts and my own mind and the last thing I needed was to be kept asked “what’s the matter ?”. I couldn’t answer because I didn’t know. Call it the black dog, midlife crisis, the wind in the east… whatever ?
At the end of last year there came a point where I felt like I’d turned a corner and was on my way out of this particular valley. I began to laugh again, I felt like smiling and the smile came from within. It wasn’t superficial. I smiled with my eyes. This turning point came about the time of my mate’s funeral although I don’t believe this was the catalyst. It wasn’t this that brought me to my senses because I don’t believe a cure for this  is about coming to one’s senses. It’s more than that. I came out of the service and just cried, openly and freely and in that there felt the beginnings of some inner relief.
Encouraged by the wife I got some Christmas work which enabled me to get out the house with a purpose. I met and made friends with some new people who were welcoming and helpful. I faced and conquered some new challenges and as a result felt much better about myself. My inner sun began to shine again. I should say that my own little dog was a life saver. He never once asked me what the matter was. As for the black dog, his coat began to gleam again. Black dogs can be beautiful.