Have you or a loved one ever been through depression? If so, you know that it can feel like you’re on an island. You may think that other people don’t really understand what you’re going through. It can be confusing – both to the person who may be dealing with depression and those around. But this video above, clears up some of that.
The video goes through using the first person analogy of having a black dog, which the video uses to depict depression. The black dog can make you irritable, impede your memory, wake you up in the middle of the night with negative thoughts, remind you how exhausted you’re going to feel, etc. Needless to say, the black dog can and will take over your thoughts. One of my favorite metaphors in the video is 22 seconds in, when it says
“When it seemed like the rest of the world seemed to be enjoying life, I can only see it through the black dog.”
When we are depressed, we see things through the lens of our depressed thoughts. As Anais Nin has said,
“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”
This same idea can be applied to happier times. Think about how when you’re in a good mood, everything seems better. You’re suddenly not irritated with your roommate as much or you don’t get upset by those small things your kid does. The filter through which you see the world changes. I’m not saying this is good or bad, but I’m asking you to recognize that you may not see the fullness of the picture that you’re looking at.
The video goes on to talk about how exhausting it is to hide the fact that you have a black dog. There can be so much shame and guilt behind the black dog that you don’t tell people and over the years, the black dog can grow and get bigger. It will get harder and harder to hide the fact that the black dog is there. You can hide it; you can try to escape it, but at the end of the day it’s still there. And as Dr. Brené Brown says, the antidote to shame and guilt getting bigger is talking about it. Shame and guilt cannot withstand being told. The more you don’t talk about it, the more it grows. And the more you do talk about it, the more you’re able to release it.
Self-medication often becomes a way to deal with the black dog, which doesn’t really end up helping. The black dog will, instead, continue to grow until it completely hijacks your life and you feel helpless. However, professional help can begin to stop the growth.
“Medication can help some, but others will need a different approach all together.”
One of the things that can be a game changer is being radically authentic and genuine with those closest to you. But the true shift comes when you are able to teach the black dog a few tricks of your own because the more stressed you are, the louder the black dog barks. Learn how to quiet your mind so the chatter is able to slow down and instead of rapidly engaging with it and fighting with it, just see the chatter for what it is. It’s been clinically proven that regular exercise can be as effective at treating mild to moderate depression as antidepressants. Note that this may not apply to severe depression and it may not even apply to you, but recognize that there are many routes to your healing.
If you want a few quick tips on how to get started with your depression, try these suggestions:
- Seek professional help
- Keep a daily mood journal
- Keep track of the things you have to be grateful for
I will leave you with one of the final lines from the video:
“No matter how bad it gets, if you take the right steps, talk to the right people, black dog days can and will pass.”
- The Disease Model of Mental Illness
- Quote Therapy – by Brené Brown
- What’s the difference between empathy and sympathy?
- Brené Brown, PhD TED talk
- Don’t judge someone else’s experience based off of your own!
- Different types of therapists and finding the one that works for you
- Will antidepressants work for you?
- From Prozac to Probiotics: Ways of Treating Depression
- Stop focusing on the problem and start focusing on the solution
- Remove your inner thorn to avoid less and accept more!
- Lessons in the art of living
- Affirm how far you’ve come!
Rubin Khoddam, Clinical Psychology PhD student at University of Southern California, founder of Psych Connection.
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