Black Dog Wins An Obedience Award

The thing about Depression is that it can feel wholly unpredictable when you’re in the grip of it.  For most of us we only get some sense of what’s going on for us when we have a handle on our triggers.  
Triggers are the things we identify as having a significant detrimental impact on our mood.
Triggers are sometimes anniversaries of life events that have affected us deeply.  Most commonly they are a set of factors that cause a depression or anxiety response because at some level they tap into something we haven’t yet fully resolved emotionally.  
I’ve talked before about anxiety sometimes being rooted in unresolved anger or loss.  The same can be said of Depression.
To find your triggers you have to be a detective and uncover the clues.  When your mood starts to slip or crashes, do the things you’ve faced in the days before your Depression give you any insight into why you mood is low.  Have you experienced feelings that frighten you?  Disturb you?  Or feel similar to another time when things felt out of your control?
It’s tempting to think that once we’ve identified what upsets us, all we need to do is live our lives avoiding those things.  The trouble is that isn’t living at all.  It’s existing in fear.
What works for me is recognising from time to time walking with Black Dog at my heels is as much about me being fully myself, in an authentic in the moment way, as it is about allowing the dark thoughts and feelings to find their voice.
For someone with such a fecund inner life, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only time that my dark voice is heard is when my dominant, creative self is quiet.  The first lesson in Black Dog obedience is my own.  I mustn’t waste energy avoiding or wrestling with a bout of Depression.  It isn’t giving in to stop, listen and rest.  It provides the space for connections to be made and re-made.
Mind you, it’s not one sided.  Black Dog has an important lesson to learn too.  There is a moment in recovery when I must return to being pack leader.  If I never re-claim that role I put us both in jeopardy of living a half life.  But being a good leader cannot be assumed.  It requires trust to be built.
At the moment Black Dog and I are working on short periods of obedience.  When I say sit.  I expect a sit.  When I say down.  I don’t want a hissy fit.  So far, we are doing well.  Today Black Dog received an award for tenacity in the field of managing an even mood whilst doing housework.  Of course, he’s now tired.  Sure he thinks he can never do the same again, but he will.  Gentle practice makes good enough, never perfect.  Perfection is a mallet we are fools to allow out anywhere we might be tempted to use it to bash ourselves to a pulp.
Tonight Black Dog is wearing his rosette and stuffed on a doggy treat.  Well done Black Dog!  No need to get up!  Stay. 



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