What's This About a Black Dog???

If you noticed a new button here on my blog, in the right column, featuring the gorgeous Winston Churchill, you may be wondering, "WTF?" No, I doubt that Winston ever knitted, but he did coin the term "the black dog" to describe his struggles with major depression.

The rainbow button links you to Pierre the Yarn Snob's blog, in which she (Ginger_Nut) (Pierre being her gorgeous little Papillon dog, I believe) comments on dealing with the depression that sometimes bites her in the butt. From her posts and comments others have made linking to her post, or on their own blogs, it becomes clear that many of us are savaged by that black beast.

While I am keeping "it" kenneled with some excellent medications (probably necessary for a lifetime, given my own and my family's history), I admire those who can deal with episodes of depression pharmaceutically and then go off them and continue life. If another depression hits, they know they have the meds to return to for help. I may one day do this as an experiment.

All this is just preamble to say that knitting is truly my therapy: just what Ginger_Nut and others have said, and why the Winston Churchill button shows him dangling needles and yarn. He SHOULD have tried knitting! Not saying that every time I want to hibernate, I get out the needles instead. But it is a better alternative and keeps my hands busy.

When I knit, I am doing something that feels good (with few negative repercussions unless I get sore hands or a kink in my neck!), which results in something I am proud of, and which I can give to someone. Generosity being another fundamental part of my personality (as is depression, as is obsessing), well, this just seems so much more constructive and healthy! So I take up my needles proudly, and with them, I salute you all, depression-copers or not, and then I tackle my next row!

One more thing: I myself deal with mood disorders of the depressive type, but in my family tree, (which, as a friend also says of hers, is a nut tree!) other versions of mood disorders have sprouted, particularly "milder" (hah!) forms of manic-depressive illness. (Living in the 21st century is a huge gift to present generations. I only have to look at those in my parents' generations to see that the extremely negative cultural attitudes and the few medications available made it impossible really to transcend the disorder. The resulting debris of those lives is sometimes heartbreaking, and the limits of relationship virtually impossible to change or ameliorate. At least with us, there is the strong possibility to tackle things head-on and thus to work on the problems it can create in a relationship.)

In that regard, I am recommending a website about bipolar illness, by Julie Fast, an author and someone who copes frankly with her own bipolar (also known as manic-depression) symptoms. While her writings may not seem entirely relevant if you deal with depression, those on how to work with depression are very helpful, and several of her books or columns are focused on specific strategies. She has just won a major award for her writing about bp and has a book slated to come out next spring called Getting Things Done When You're Depressed: 50 Tips and Tricks.

I am pre-ordering the book because I need some real strategies. My tendencies toward holing up and becoming nonsocial are hard to combat. During the school year, when it strikes, I can even do my job relatively well (and I know that's something to be grateful for!), and yet when I'm done, it's as if I've given it all away, so I shut down and don't want to communicate with anyone. The phone rings--tell them I'm not home. My DH wants to go for a walk--no thanks, I'm exhausted. In the car with one of the kids, I don't say a word. I become a "veg," and while that feels good at some level (particularly in the refueling that I need under all circumstances in order to be able to be sociable again the next day), it takes its toll on relationships. Wanting to stay under the covers is not a way to live a life!

There's another whole set of problems that "dog" me in this state, including but not limited to overwhelming feelings of guilt, being "sure" that I know what someone else thinks/feels about something I've said or done, waking up in the middle of the night to a judgmental reckoning of everything I've ever done that I'm ashamed of, you get the picture. No way to live.

OK, I know this was a heavy post. Now, it's time to go take photos of some of those new projects and FOs that I'm busy with--and tomorrow, I'll post them, and tell you about my sneak-trip to San Francisco yesterday, to ImagiKnit.

And meantime, happy knitting, and I do mean HAPPY! 8^)


Bells said...

Great post Stacie. Sorry to hear you're plagued by various difficulties on this front but it sounds like you take a really healthy approach and fill your life with great things like knitting to help you get through. Self care is so important.

Jejune said...

Aaah, welcome to the club :/ It's a bloody pain, isn't it? The 'shut down' phase, which interferes with normal life so much. I've found knitting very therapeutic as well - now I just need to get my husband to take it up too!

It sounds like you're at least well aware of how the black dog affects you, and what strategies to take, and how to slowly move on in life. All the best (((hugs))).

crazycatladymel said...

I'm glad you emailed me about this post. I'm just a leeetle behind in my Bloglines -- I would have gotten here in a day or two, but it's better this way. Thanks so much for sharing and adding your voice.

That book sounds perfect, and I'll probably pre-order it as well. One way or another, I'll be getting it!

Peter Chen said...

Hi Stacie??

Thanks for leaving a comment in my post How to comment out the profile. I have responded to your comment twice. I think I will have to respond one more time.

Peter (Blog*Star 2006 and 2007)
Generating Revenue from your Website

jen said...

Hi, Stacie... I've been lurking for a while, but this post has shaken me out of hiding. ;)

This is the primary reason why I picked up knitting a few years back. It was literally something to do to keep my mind busy (and quiet), and to stop me from over analyzing everything.

It's been a saviour for me... knitting, that is. Luckily my depression has been at bay for the most part, but I attribute that to knitting whenever I feel "mopey".

k said...

I also suffer from 'funks' from time to time. Mine are usually seasonal- not just in the winter but around the change of each season. I've never tried knitting as a means to shake it off (usually I exercise and get plenty of daylight). But I have found that dyeing yarns helps me as well... it stimulates my creativity and the colors usually brighten my moods. There's also the added benefit of feeling accomplished; that I've created something or been productive when I'd rather hide away from the world.

Congrats on your summer diet progress- that's awesome! :)