Author Topic: The Black Dog - mental health awareness  (Read 4958 times)

Offline SamT

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The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« on: January 18, 2021, 09:23:27 am »
Thought this worth of its own thread (spinoff from the Blue Monday Thread).

The/My Black Dog?

"My biggest fear was being found out"

"He used to wake me up with repetitive and negative thinking and remind me about how tired I would be the next day"

"Activities that previously brought me pleasure suddenly ceased to" But I'm on the road to recovery.

It doesn't matter who you are, if you're in difficulty don't be afraid to ask for help, there's no shame in doing so, the only shame is missing out on life.



At its worst, depression can be a frightening, debilitating condition. Millions of people around the world live with depression. Many of these individuals and their families are afraid to talk about their struggles, and don't know where to turn for help. However, depression is largely preventable and treatable. Recognizing depression and seeking help is the first and most critical towards recovery. In collaboration with WHO to mark

World Mental Health Day, writer and illustrator Matthew Johnstone tells the story of overcoming the "black dog of depression". For more information on World Mental Health Day, please visit: www.who.int

Offline SamT

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2021, 09:29:39 am »
I've had my struggles of the years.  Luckily mild enough that just going to the GP and talking about it was enough to turn a downward spiral into an upward one.  Been relatively good the last few years.  I only occasionally hear the black dog barking off in the distance.

I also know too many people who've taken their own life.

Please, as I said on the other thread, if you're struggling, then please please please talk to someone about it.

Also - look out for those around you how you think might be struggling.  Especially now.  One good idea is to to just choose 5 people from your contacts, and just give them a call, find out how their doing. 

Offline Pegasus

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2021, 11:06:04 am »

Also - look out for those around you how you think might be struggling.  Especially now.  One good idea is to to just choose 5 people from your contacts, and just give them a call, find out how their doing.

Well said, Sam  :hug:

Offline Slug

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2021, 12:22:12 pm »
Sadly Sam, My experience of seeking help has been pretty much the opposite of what you're saying. I was 19 and in the military when I first started getting visited by "the Dog".....I sought medical help and was effectively given the verbal equivalent of a slap in the face and Pull Yourself Together rant.....I was told to "deal with it"....so I did, first with drink, then drugs and then other more self destructive behavior, until I was Jailed and dismissed...I was in Colchester with so many veterans of N.I. and the Falklands, it was more like Broardmoor !

 Over the last 40 years it has effectively ruined my life.....despite their BS, most employers don't want "Nutters".  I was forced out of my last job because my health issues.....despite their own policies. No amount of Regulations or Laws did any good whatsoever. Never have done, doubt they ever will......maybe it's different if you don't work in Overalls.
Maybe for others it might be a different experience......they can but hope.
Pint of Butcombe Please Roger.

Offline Roger W

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2021, 12:48:13 pm »
Really sorry to hear that, Slug.  Unfortunately the "pull yourself together" attitude is still widespread and not helpful at all.  Deepest sympathy - though I don't know if it will help any.
"That, of course, is the dangerous part about caves:  you don't know how far they go back, sometimes... or what is waiting for you inside."   JRR Tolkein: "The Hobbit"

Offline SamT

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2021, 01:28:50 pm »
Sadly Sam, My experience of seeking help has been pretty much the opposite of what you're saying. I was 19 and in the military when I first started getting visited by "the Dog".....I sought medical help and was effectively given the verbal equivalent of a slap in the face and Pull Yourself Together rant.....I was told to "deal with it"....so I did, first with drink, then drugs and then other more self destructive behavior, until I was Jailed and dismissed...I was in Colchester with so many veterans of N.I. and the Falklands, it was more like Broardmoor !

 Over the last 40 years it has effectively ruined my life.....despite their BS, most employers don't want "Nutters".  I was forced out of my last job because my health issues.....despite their own policies. No amount of Regulations or Laws did any good whatsoever. Never have done, doubt they ever will......maybe it's different if you don't work in Overalls.
Maybe for others it might be a different experience......they can but hope.

That's shit, and sorry to hear that.  I can imagine the military being like that.  Not the best place for sympathy, though I'd like to think they were way more on top of things like PTSD these days.
Times have moved on a bit (that that I'm calling you old  ;) ) but I suspect a 19 year old presenting these days might get a different experience.  There is far more awareness around mental health issues, particularly in men these days.  Principally in response to the appalling suicide rate.

Hope you continue to manage things.  Its never too late to seek help and with new treatments/understanding etc you might just drop on something that helps.  I've heard other say that it can take a long time and trying lots of different things before dropping on the thing that works for you.


Offline mrodoc

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2021, 01:35:31 pm »
Slug, you have a lot to offer. I really like the model dig I bought off you. I am sure others would like versions of that.

Offline Slug

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2021, 01:58:02 pm »
Thanks Pete.....but at the moment I'm on 60mg of Fluoxetine a day, and have been for the last 10 years, I'm only a few steps up the evolutionary ladder than a vegetable. Zero motivation.
 One of the reasons I used to do the catering at CHECC and a few times for the BCA was it gave me something to do, you know, divert the boredom, and have some people....OK mostly students....believe I knew what I was doing.

 Sam, in a month's time I'll be 59, that is old  :o not to some I'm sure, but after decades as a "techie", spent grovelling around on my hands and  knees under Aeroplanes, Vehicles and other machinery.......not to mention caves, my body is buggered......stil Aldi do a very nice Australian Red at £3:99 a bottle, so there's always that. :beer2:
Pint of Butcombe Please Roger.

Offline nickwilliams

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2021, 02:09:18 pm »
In no way do I wish to diminish Slug's experience, but mine (much more recently) was different.

For people who think in bullet points like me, this is what I learned:

- Talking to someone (anyone) helps.

- You will be surprised how many other people you know have also suffered.

- Help is out there, and it works.

- Pills work for some people, not for others. Different pills work for different people.
 
- Some people will tell you that fresh air and exercise is a cure. It isn’t, but it does help.

- Getting better takes time, and there will be bad days as well as good days.

- Don’t ignore the possibility that there may be something wrong with you physically as well as mentally.  In my case, feeling crap most of the time due to undiagnosed Parkinson’s Disease was a significant factor in my mental health.
"Economics is simply the branch of sociology that deals with people trading items and the fact that they use more numbers does not make it anymore of a science."

Offline PeteHall

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2021, 03:21:12 pm »
I've always considered myself fairly resilient from a mental health perspective, perhaps because I always keep myself busy, so don't have time to let my mind dwell too long on anything.

When the first lockdown cut off all access to everything and everyone, I slumped to a pretty low place. Motivation for anything was non-existent. I was hardly sleeping and on a steady downhill spiral.

When travel restrictions for exercise were lifted, I got together with a few friends and we started a few simple underground projects on an evening after work. I felt immediately revived, yet there were always those determined to tell me I was being selfish and irresponsible for going caving; fortunately, I managed to ignore them.

While my motivation never quite recovered to pre-lockdown levels, I have generally been much better for getting out for an evening once or twice a week, either alone, or with one or two others. In fact the best I've felt for ages was after a Swildon's trip shortly before Christmas when I was offered a beer afterwards, by someone staying at the hut. I'd quite forgotten the simple pleasure of sitting by a fire, beer in hand, chatting caving for an hour before heading home.

This latest lockdown has rewound all that though, with threats of police clamping down and handing out fines when no law has been broken, I've not bothered to leave the house. Based on the interpretation by some members of this forum, I shouldn't leave my village, let alone cross the administrative boundary that lies 200 yards from my door, between me and the hills. Sorry, but while you might subscribe to the 'man up and deal with it' approach, I will be escaping these confines to protect my mental health as soon as I find the motivation.

Offline SamT

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2021, 03:39:52 pm »
 :thumbsup:


Offline ditzy

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2021, 05:15:26 pm »
The stigma on mental health is wrong, most just don't want to admit if they need help because of the stigma of what it means. only advise i can give is don't be afraid or ashamed, if you need help then get it. sometimes pills help but not always. if your struggling then try going for a walk, the fresh air helps me. some people need talking therapies. i have done DBT and it has helped me a lot, i would highly recommend it. mindfulness is also good.

Offline mrodoc

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2021, 05:47:28 pm »
Sorry to hear about your problems Nick.  As I neared the end of my days in practice Parkinson's seem to be getting increasingly common and we have at least two friends who have it #(one attributes to cleaning agents used in his old job for IBM as a colleague also developed it).  Exercise is beneficial for a lot of complaints and certainly I suspect it has kept my tendency to depression at bay over the years. You are right about medication - it can be very specific for some individuals as I learnt during my career. Sometimes it was an effort to persuade people they were depressed.

Offline JoshW

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2021, 06:45:00 pm »
about 8/9 years ago, I was struggling for motivation, struggling to form and maintain friendships etc and just generally struggling. I'd not really realised I was feeling 'down' at all, but just noticed the end effects of it. Someone brought in a copy of the black dog book to work, and left it on the side in the kitchen. I read it and it instantly resonated with me, and everything fell into place.

I spent the next few years not really dealing with it (or other issues going on in my life) and ended up being in some dark places (not just underground).

I've never really been one for opening up, but do have a select few people that I feel I can and so do, and I urge anyone who feels the same to do so. Let your friends know you're there, rely on your friends if you need them.

Over the last 5/6 years or so I've managed to work out my 'triggers' and spot the early signs that things are spiralling downwards and so know what to do to regain control.

Offline mrodoc

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2021, 06:48:43 pm »
Apparently Matt Haig the writer has written a helpful book. I have certainly enjoyed his fiction eg The Midnight Library and The Humans.

Offline Blueberry

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2021, 06:55:19 pm »
I had a psychotic breakdown during finals at University. Ended up in  a Psychiatric ward. I eventually was discharged, and was on medication for 25 years. I worked as a teacher in mainstream. Eventually ended up working in CAMHS for 10years. I never told anyone about my history. But I do know that talking about what is going on your head is important. No one is a mind reader, you have to pardon the expression ‘dump you head’ to someone who will listen, and  not pass comment or judge.
I did actually tell the kids when I was leaving, it’s a journey and it does end. I am now 57. Keep well, keep breathing. I know my story is not about depression. It just helps to tell it.

Offline David Rose

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2021, 10:17:01 pm »
I know several people whose mental health has really suffered over the period of the current pandemic. I hope that as a caving community, we can reach out and offer support, and the honesty of people expressing themselves here is a very positive step. I suspect not so long ago cavers would not have been as honest and forthcoming about their bad times. It's good that the stigma there once was is dissipating, and that people feel able to write about what they've gone through here.

Offline Hunter

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2021, 10:08:53 am »
From my personal experience, part of the problem is made up of a combination of      A) recognising you have a problem and B) acceptance that you’re not indestructible.
My situation came to a head when I visited my GP about a separate issue and as I wasn’t sleeping very well thought while I’m here I’ll ask for something to help me sleep.
The resulting conversation ended with me balling my eyes out in the Dr’s surgery and being told I was off work (which was the root of my problems) for at least a month which ended up being six weeks.
That’s where the recognition and acceptance bit should have come in as I went back way too early although I managed to cope with it.
What I did find though is that as Slug mentioned, it doesn’t seem to matter what policies are in place, there are some people who are sympathetic while others view it as a weakness and think you’re trying to pull a fast one.
In hindsight I think I knew I was struggling but the English stiff upper lip wouldn’t let me admit it.
Fortunately I didn’t need medication and I’ve learnt to recognise the signs over time and am able to deal with them in my own way.
There is also a flip side to this where a close family member suffers but you don’t.
I’ve got that issue as well and that presents its own problems.
Walking on eggshells so as not to cause upset, dealing with the “unreasonable” behaviour which is out of character and the isolation when they just want to be alone.
In my experience, when one partner has symptoms, two people suffer.
It’s a horrible illness widely misunderstood.




Offline ditzy

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2021, 10:30:00 am »
I had a psychotic breakdown during finals at University. Ended up in  a Psychiatric ward.

iv suffered from mental health problems, im not afraid to say so either. i spent 5 years on a psychiatric ward. i was very unwell but im on the right medication, did the right course (DBT) and now im home and happy. i know it was a long time and hard going but iv come out the other side stronger than ever. I will be forever thankful for the help i was given. if anyone is struggling, particularly in these dark times of the pandemic dont be afraid to reach out.

Offline Duncan Price

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2021, 11:24:11 am »
I have experienced mental health issues - I even attempted suicide.  Because of the stigma attached to it I've become good at hiding it.  My mood tends to go up and down from one extreme to another - sometimes there are obvious triggers, other times not.  When I'm up I get lots done, and when I'm down I try to roll with it knowing that I'll recover given time. Having done a Mental Health First Aider course for work I would say that Nick's bullet points are most comprehensive.  A point to remember is that we all have a mental health and everyone can have problems with it.

The late "Fish" Jeanmaire and I had many long chats about mental health and cave diving - he tried to encourage me to write something for the CDG Newsletter but I've always felt uneasy about "coming out" to the general caving community.  Fish passed away in 2015 so this post is a bit overdue - it took a long time to write given its brevity.




Offline Badlad

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2021, 11:33:28 am »
I suspect the human being is quite a fragile entity in reality despite lots of bravado to the contrary.  So many pressures in life to fit in, work hard, look great, be funny, achieve something etc.  Good to see people being open and on a public forum too.  That can only be a good thing.

Blue Monday has now passed on the other thread that prompted the OP.  It wasn't to everyone's taste.

Offline Pegasus

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #21 on: January 19, 2021, 12:22:42 pm »
Cavers may argue and bicker and grump, however we are all part of the caving community and I hope that belonging helps everyone with their mental health.  Give a caving friend a call today and say hello  :)

Hugs and love to you all, Pegasus  :hug:

Offline royfellows

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #22 on: January 19, 2021, 12:33:21 pm »
I would like to make a contribution to this thread.

First, and I am sorry if this sounds patronising, but have to say that Peter Hall talks just so much sense on every possible subject. I now look out for your posts Peter. Enough said on that.

I would now like to relate my own experience. Again apologies if it sounds daft, or heart on my sleeve or whatever.

2010 was the worst year of my life. I was quite ill in a way I didn't really want to go into detail, but I will.
I had appalling eczema all over my body. It was weeping body fluid to the extent that I was permanently dehydrated and had to (try, I had little strength) to make up a 'special' bed each night of old cotton sheets, quite thick, to soak up what came out of me. I could not stand still as it affected my legs, a degree of comfort was attainable by lying flat with my legs raised slightly. My neighbour commented that in July when the weather was warm I would sit on a wall in the garden and never move for hours at a time and he wandered if I was alive.
I had no strength to do anything, no one to help, I live on my own, the wife died of cancer in 1998, and yet I had to somehow attempt to wash clothes and keep myself clean.

I had to go out to get shopping, at Sainsbury's Cannock, and I do have to say that the staff there were extremely kind and helpful. I looked like something out of "The Exorcist"
I do have a soft spot for the ladies there who were so kind.

I came out of this period, more or less, I still have a bit of it on my head but its nothing, and felt optimistic, but when I resumed my outdoor activities found that I could not do very much due to problems with my legs.

This threw me into an acute depression where I could see everything coming to an end.
This is when it gets totally weird.

I was lying on my bed with my past life going through my brain. I thought of the successful digging up at Nenthead and other projects, all no more. I thought of the days long gone when i actually used to do karate. I was doing it from 1964 up until 1979 when the club I was at closed down.

I thought to myself "You will never see those days again"
Then something really odd, I heard a voice, not a real one, but it sought of came into my mind from somewhere outside it.
It said "It doesn't have to be like that"

I thought to myself, whats this!
that's what it was like
Then , something I will never understand, it was like a something exploded in my head, or maybe a shock, and at that point my life changed.

I got off the bed and tried a karate punch, it hut my arm, but it was just the start.

I went up the Nenthead a while after and my friends, mainly from SCMC, were all there. I was asked by one to try to explain myself by one. he said that he knew it was me, Roy, but I was a different person.
All I could think of to say, was to ask if I was still a nice person, because that was what really mattered.

After some Internet research I now know that what happened is called "Sudden personality change" It can be caused by a variety of things, drugs, alcohol abuse, illness or depression. So the last sits well with it. Its usually negative, but with me its positive, at least I think so.
In truth at 76 i can do some amazing things, its difficult to get a handle on some of it.

At the time of the 'change' I thought I had gone mad. But one thing about that 'voice' or whatever it was, it certainly didn't bloody lie.

The way I see things now, life is like a long corridor with rooms going off. The doors to some rooms are locked so I have to stay out, but others are open and I can enjoy whatever is in the room. As doors become locked, others will open, but I need to constantly be on the lookout for them as they can sometimes be missed.

Well there we are. This appears to be a honest thread so I have taken the bold step of telling all this. I doubt anyone will laugh at me, but if you must, please do it off forum.




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Offline Pegasus

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #23 on: January 19, 2021, 01:15:42 pm »

The way I see things now, life is like a long corridor with rooms going off. The doors to some rooms are locked so I have to stay out, but others are open and I can enjoy whatever is in the room. As doors become locked, others will open, but I need to constantly be on the lookout for them as they can sometimes be missed.

Well there we are. This appears to be a honest thread so I have taken the bold step of telling all this. I doubt anyone will laugh at me, but if you must, please do it off forum.

Laugh?? Blimey no, will admit to a little tear reading this  :)  :hug:

Offline ZombieCake

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #24 on: January 19, 2021, 01:51:25 pm »
Reminds me of someone, let's call them 'UndeadScone' for arguments sake, who hasn't always been the most cheerful person in the world in the past.  Not necessarily the nicest place to be, and it does remind one of a quote from a film, namely, "Can't rain all the time."

 

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