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^)