Author Topic: The Black Dog - mental health awareness  (Read 4919 times)

Offline mrodoc

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #25 on: January 19, 2021, 02:36:24 pm »
Has anybody else noticed how the use of metaphors has gone through the roof in this pandemic (oops used one there). Government spokesmen seemed to have gone out of their way to out vie  each other when making announcements about the way things are going. No caving metaphors yet. Anybody got one for Chris Witty or Boris Johnson to use. Answers on a (large) postcard please.

Offline Brains

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #26 on: January 19, 2021, 03:38:42 pm »
I have been (mostly) on and off (rarely) tablets most of my adult life.
Some outside influences have helped and hindered - marriage, kids, divorce, animals, remarriage and helping loved ones through hard times.
I am still here and looking forward to an ever growing list of caving trips (Obsessed did I hear you say?), together with a returning interest in geology that I studied many moons ago. New friends in the real world and on line have been a benefit over the years, together with a much better appreciation for MH issues, including some immediate action techniques.
It is so reassuring to know others know and understand, if not my issues then more in general.

Particularly useful actions for a bad time could be a cold thermal shock - hands under the cold tap, stand in the garden in a T shirt, open the car windows with the heating off. The cold seems to reset the mood regulator within. Distraction is useful, and going for a walk, being thoughtful of the little things - bird song, water droplets, sound of the wind, rumble of lorries, watching the clouds. The hardest but most effective is to reach out to someone...

Offline Ian P

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #27 on: January 19, 2021, 05:49:39 pm »
I am extremely lucky to not have suffered In this way.

However this is an extremely thoughtful thread.

A simple “Like” on some of these posts would seem inappropriate.

Can I just say “hats off” to you all, some moving and sobering posts, you all have my admiration.

Make no doubt, your comments WILL help others.

Thank you.
Ian

Offline Fishes

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #28 on: January 19, 2021, 07:42:23 pm »
The black dog has been a companion for most of my life. Caving and other cavers have helped me keep afloat through some of the most difficult times.

My employers are currently running mental health awareness training which I am very wary of as I think I have gone mostly under the radar and prefer to stay that way. I'm sure the company thinks it is doing the right thing but I'm thankful it has been delayed due to Covid restrictions.

Two managers and one technician have had serious breakdowns at the main site where  I work at over the last five years. Two of them had the same job and the third person worked in the same department. All of them have now left the company. A fourth employee at another site was also forced to leave in similar circumstances.

I won't be putting my hand up and saying me too in the workplace any time soon.

Offline royfellows

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #29 on: January 19, 2021, 07:51:37 pm »
I think this is one of the nicest non caving threads that there has been on here.

As I have said on another thread somewhere, I thrive on challenges, its what keeps me going.
Any older people on here remember a TV program of many years ago "The Braden Beat", hosted by a Bernard Braden?
They had a karate expert, probably the best the world has ever seen, but we dont use the word "expert".
Anyway it was Hirokazu Kanazawa, possibly the best karateka the world has seen.

I trained with him many ears ago, also Senseis Enoeda and Takahashi. Well I am scheduled to be taking advanced karate classes at a club in Wolverhampton as soon as this lot is over, and if anyone had told me I would be doing that at 76 back in 2010 I would have really thought them mad.

So there you are, you never know what the future holds, good or bad.
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Offline AR

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #30 on: January 19, 2021, 09:27:46 pm »
Another important thing about this thread is flagging up just how prevalent mental health issues actually are, and how important it is to talk about it and not bottle it up. I made that mistake in the past, and 2016 was a pretty hellish year for me with depression - it took a car accident late on in the year to jolt me into going to the doctors about it but before then, there were too many days walking into work wondering if I'd be leaving the office in handcuffs or a body bag, depending on whether rage or despair won out. Serotonin boosters, a month signed off and a change of job pulled me back to being able to function and I've learned to watch out for the start of the downward spirals and catch them before they take off; there was a good article I read online the other day (but can't find the link in my browsing history) about changing your inner dialogue to move away from destructive self-criticism - if I can find it again I'll post it up here.
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Offline SamT

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #31 on: January 19, 2021, 09:39:00 pm »
So glad folks have engaged with this topic has I hoped they would.  Just knowing there are others out there who have suffered as you have/are, can help take the edge off things.

Is Ian says, "Hats off" to you all for being brave and posting here.  You'll be helping others, if not yourselves.

Offline Blueberry

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #32 on: January 20, 2021, 08:09:01 am »
It is very interesting the general public’s perception of mental illness. And also, ours.
It is something that cannot be seen. A broken leg, Covid, cut arm etc physical ailments. Physical unwellness can be seen.
Mental illness is hidden, you do not know if I am depressed, having suicidal thoughts, paranoid etc. Unless I tell you, but I might be afraid to speak. Your perception of me may change. 
Also, the use of language is interesting.
I have a broken arm, my arm is broken, we do not say ‘I am a broken arm’.
But we do say.
‘I am anorexic’, ‘I am a depressive’.  A mental illness is not you; it is something that is affecting you.

Offline Duncan Price

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #33 on: January 20, 2021, 09:41:58 am »
My employers are currently running mental health awareness training which I am very wary of as I think I have gone mostly under the radar and prefer to stay that way.

My employer has a team of trained mental health first aiders (I am one of them).  Most of the managers will have also received some basic training.  The mental health first aiders are there to support colleagues and point them in appropriate directions for help.  We're not counsellors, everything is confidential and nothing is shared.  The team get together once a month to chat in very general terms about issues in case there are common factors which might need to be addressed on a company level (e.g. the isolation of working from home).  It sounds like there might be cultural factors in your workplace causing mental health problems for the workforce that need dealing with.

Like you, I was extremely skeptical at first and only did the training for selfish reasons.  I'm now coming around to the idea that its a GOOD THING.

I respect your desire to keep yourself to yourself at work - its a difficult call.

Offline Blueberry

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #34 on: January 20, 2021, 06:45:11 pm »


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.

Forgive the approach Duncan, I have read your book. Your editorship of other books and indexes and the attention to detail is marvelous. In the words of the late "Fish" Jeanmarie, write the book. People may contribute chapters or stories. I do believe it is the 75th Anniversary of the CDG this year. What a great addition to it's knowledge base that would be.

Offline droid

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #35 on: January 20, 2021, 07:45:16 pm »
I won't bore you with my story, but a couple of observations

Don't think that just because someone appears confident and self possessed they don't suffer depression. Depressives can be very good at hiding it.

And don't neccessarily believe someone that says they don't suffer from depression. The tendency to deny suffering is quite common in my experience.
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Offline mrodoc

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #36 on: January 21, 2021, 11:00:01 pm »
So true.

Offline Gerbil007

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #37 on: January 25, 2021, 08:05:20 pm »
Can anyone relate to near constant suicidal thoughts? Incessant enough to start wondering if maybe its not a bad plan? I'm there now. Lost my Dad in 2019. Motivation (which had previously been driving me to do some pretty good stuff) quickly ebbed away thereafter and the hysteria surrounding covid now makes me wonder whether I really want to be a part of this shitshow anymore. I have a 6 year old boy and a baby due in July. The thought of how it would affect my boy is holding me back for now.
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Offline pwhole

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #38 on: January 25, 2021, 08:26:25 pm »
I don't wish to come across too much like a blunt man (which I am), but I would think raising children would be the best possible thing you could be doing right now, especially after losing your dad. New life is the best thing ever, and if you can do it, then do it. The hysteria will fade, and reality will kick in eventually, and we'll all learn to adapt, reform, and improve - it always happens - it's only a shitshow at the moment. So please try not to think about suicide - it won't just affect your immediate family, but everyone beyond that - it has a ripple effect, and will just add damage. I've had more than one friend do it, one an ex-girlfriend, and I'm still trying to work out what I could have done differently to prevent it, fifteen years later. Bringing up your kids to appreciate the wonder of life is a far, far better outcome, and if it seems insurmountable at the moment, ask friends for help, if it's possible. Ask strangers for help if it's not possible - well, you have.

Don't give up ;)

Offline Duck ditch

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #39 on: January 25, 2021, 09:15:53 pm »
Hi Gerbil007.   
I made a reasonable attempt at suicide on my 21st birthday.  So glad I failed. 
Focus on one day at a time. Go for a walk, paint, write, sing, mend furniture (that’s what my brother did). Writing did it for me.  What was the pretty good stuff you were doing before? Talk it out with someone if you can.
Like pw said, it’s only a shitshow at the moment.  Don’t give up.

Offline Pegasus

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #40 on: January 25, 2021, 10:45:54 pm »
Wise words above.
Please do talk to someone if you possibly can and remember this shitshow will end. Don't give up.
Hugs, Jane



Offline Alex

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #41 on: January 26, 2021, 09:12:58 am »
I think we all need to see the light at the end of the tunnel Geerbil007, I am very good with emotional stuff, but can I ask when you were last out on your bike, long distant biking is something you love is it not? The lock-down rules don't preclude it, I say you are long past treating yourself to several long rides if that's what you like doing. Forget the rules if that worries you I know no one who has been fined cycling thier bike. Do what makes you happy and be kind to yourself. I bet you are a wonderful father and are quite literally irreplaceable. Never forget that.
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Offline aricooperdavis

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #42 on: January 26, 2021, 10:26:58 am »
There's a huge amount of stigma around medicating for depression, but this thread gave me the push I needed to ask my GP about it. For me it was a 10 minute phone call with my GP, a short walk to Boots the following day, and a £9.15 prescription charge. It has to be worth a try, Geerbil007? You're not alone, there are a lot of people suffering with you, and more paths to a better future than it might feel like right now. I'm sure you can PM any of us if you'd like to chat more about it in private.

Offline Pegasus

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #43 on: January 26, 2021, 10:41:57 am »
I feel this is one of the most important threads ever posted on UKC. 

It reminds us we may participate in what some might call an extreme sport, however we are a community made up of all sorts of people from all walks of life with all sorts of troubles and joys.  It's great folks are sharing positive and fun stuff on UKC, helping to keep their fellow caver entertained - good on you and please keep it up, helps to get us all through this.  It's also positive that folks feel they can reach out and talk about their troubles so others realise they are not alone in feeling down or sad or struggling.

Bravery is not just about abseiling big pitches, diving sumps or getting through tight squeezes - it's also about reaching out when you feel down (and so many people are, these are extraordinary times, no wonder people are finding it tough).

As has been said before, give someone you know a call, check they are OK; be kind to yourself and others.  We'll get through this rotten time.. Love to you all, Pegasus xxx


Offline pwhole

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #44 on: January 26, 2021, 10:47:59 am »
There's a huge amount of stigma around medicating for depression, but this thread gave me the push I needed to ask my GP about it. For me it was a 10 minute phone call with my GP, a short walk to Boots the following day, and a £9.15 prescription charge. It has to be worth a try, Geerbil007? You're not alone, there are a lot of people suffering with you, and more paths to a better future than it might feel like right now. I'm sure you can PM any of us if you'd like to chat more about it in private.

Can you shed any more light on that? I don't want to come across as facetious as I'm not, but I'm a bit concerned that a ten-minute chat and a prescription is adequate treatment for depression. It sounds rather casual to me, which I'm sure it isn't, but I'd just like to know a bit more about the prescription aspect - I have known this to go on for decades with some people, and often people have stayed on meds far longer than was necessary, or healthy. If you'd rather not, PM me instead, but it is something I'm intrigued about.

Offline Alex

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #45 on: January 26, 2021, 10:48:38 am »
I meant to say "I am not very good with emotional stuff"
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Offline aricooperdavis

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #46 on: January 26, 2021, 11:27:21 am »
Can you shed any more light on that? [...] If you'd rather not, PM me instead, but it is something I'm intrigued about.

This is something that I've been thinking about for a while, and I had gone to some length to understand my situation and the options available to me. I have been engaging with an online CBT-like platform provided by my work for some time and took a self assessment PHQ-9 before the call. Ideally I would like a talking therapy, but knew that this is unlikely to happen any time soon (high demand and relentless underfunding), so proposed a one-off prescription for a low dose of sertraline to be reviewed every 28 days (this drug can take some time to be effective) whilst I wait. I'd even checked the NIC for the drug to stop me feeling guilty about being a burden on the taxpayer (my prescription charge is about 10x the cost of the drug). My experience is that I will be much more able to manage my situation independently when I am back at work and less insular, so I will also not ask my GP to renew my prescription after this. I basically communicated this to my GP who asked me lots of questions about my situation and my understanding of my plan, after which he agreed that it was the right way forward. I hope that alleviates any concern that my GP has been hasty.

I did a lot of the legwork here, because I'm a control freak like that, but for others considering reaching out to their GP for help, it doesn't have to be that way - they're incredibly talented people who have huge amounts of experience helping patients make informed decisions about their treatment. Arranging an appointment with them is the last step you'll have to take without their help and guidance.

Offline PeteHall

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #47 on: January 26, 2021, 11:51:57 am »
I'm a bit concerned that a ten-minute chat and a prescription is adequate treatment for depression.

I have known this to go on for decades with some people, and often people have stayed on meds far longer than was necessary

In total agreement here.

While I'm sure medication can be really helpful in some cases, particularly to break a downhill cycle, I worry that it does not address the route cause of the problem.

People can easily become dependent on such medications, where perhaps if the cause was addressed, the symptom would fix itself, rather than simply treating the symptom. Speaking as someone with no medical expertise, I would hope that a medical professional would treat medication as a last resort, rather than a go-to quick fix, but perhaps I'm over-simplifying things.

My experience is that I will be much more able to manage my situation independently when I am back at work and less insular
I think this is key, though I would add that while work is a good distraction to prevent developing or dwelling on negative thoughts, other face to face contact or activities to focus on are possibly even more effective.

One of the great things about caving is that it provides complete escapism; it is impossible to focus on anything else once you are underground. For me at least, all other problems melt away and I am entirely absorbed in the here and now of the cave. On exiting the cave, I no longer need to focus on the cave, but my mind is refreshed and I am still in cave mood for several days.

I've not been underground since before Christmas (save for wandering into the entrance of a cave on my New Year's day walk with the family), so really looking forward to my dose of underground medication tonight :)


Offline AR

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #48 on: January 26, 2021, 12:08:16 pm »
Sertraline's the one I got prescribed when I was at my lowest; I had initially been wary of taking anti-depressants because I didn't want to end up stuck on them (like an ex-girlfriend of mine) and did voice that concern to the doctor but they did explain what it was (a serotonin booster) and like Ari, kept it on review with an eye to stopping it as soon as I felt capable . Once I'd got away from the main cause of my depression ( the job I was in at the time) and secured a new job, I agreed with the doctor to start slowly winding it down and fully came off it about nine months after I started.
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Offline Alex

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Re: The Black Dog - mental health awareness
« Reply #49 on: January 26, 2021, 12:17:27 pm »
Quote
I think this is key, though I would add that while work is a good distraction to prevent developing or dwelling on negative thoughts, other face to face contact or activities to focus on are possibly even more effective.

One of the great things about caving is that it provides complete escapism; it is impossible to focus on anything else once you are underground. For me at least, all other problems melt away and I am entirely absorbed in the here and now of the cave. On exiting the cave, I no longer need to focus on the cave, but my mind is refreshed and I am still in cave mood for several days.

Yes it's the same with me. In my early 20s I would often be feeling low, angry, fed up, but then I found caving, found a purpose in life and I became a much happier and sociable person because of it. Let's hope we can get back to it soon.
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