Black Dog of Depression and Doubt

Washington Post ApplicationI woke up with the black dog of depression and doubt attempting to make a home with me again. Luckily I had an early dentist appointment, so I pulled myself out of bed..

Once I got home from the appointment I did everything I thought to get going. Had a nice cup of fancy tea, started work and got some exercise. Then I decided to make some pumpkin oat pancakes for lunch. While cooking, I listened to this podcast of Brene Brown speaking with Krista Tippett.

As they spoke about Brene’s research on vulnerability some quotes jumped out at me, “Your capacity for whole heartedness is directly related to your capacity for broken heartedness.” The times when people never thought they would survive, were the moments that so thoroughly defined them. This is often a time when your true strength blossoms.  These are the moments when no matter what you have, you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, you just keep moving forward with whatever strength you have. You move forward with whatever hope you can find. She spoke of how hope is directly related to adversity. Those people who faced adversity early in life, especially were blessed with a capacity to find hope.

Another quote spoke to my feelings today, “For most people being brave and being afraid happen in the same moment.” Sometimes I forget that and I think today was just such a day. So when I feel fear and doubt I lose sight of my bravery. Today when I woke up and remembered that I still haven’t heard from two possible jobs, the doubt that had been creeping along the edge of my days decided to sit squarely in my view, begging me to pay attention only to it. It was hard day to stay focused on anything. Luckily a friend reminded me to let the dog pass through but not stay.

A video posted on UpWorthy a week ago talks about the black dog of depression, perfectly framing the specter of depression that so many people live with everyday. Taking this analogy, I decided that I can see my dog as an overwhelming presence, or I can see it as a dog playing fetch with experiences and emotions I would normally not pay attention to, much like a dog bringing sticks and dead birds to their people. I can take a moment to observe, honor, and hold the life that I have in my hands, brought by a loyal friend.  If I do this then I have a chance to learn and know more deeply what is going on for me. I must remember that the black dog of depression can be trained to simply fetch from the depths those emotions and experiences that are deeply affecting me. Those hidden stones and logs that lurk beneath the surface of daily life. My friend Molly, from AmeriCorps NCCC, also wrote recently about struggling with depression in a great post on her blog.

Turns out the anxiety and stress I experienced while submitting the applications for 2 writing internships, is now just hanging on me as I wait to hear word. The opportunities will determine my direction for the next year, and possibly longer.  This intense emotion reminds me of just how important this new direction is to me.

Another reminder in the podcast, reminded me that for whole hearted people the judgement between good work and good you is always separate. I may not get the internships and that does not mean my writing is not good, or that I am unworthy of love and belonging. My family and friends remind me of that love every moment of every day, even if I am far away.

Thank you black dog for reminding me of that love, of that passion for a career that aligns my talents and concerns, of my capacity for broken heartedness and wholeheartedness.

One thought on “Black Dog of Depression and Doubt

  1. Loved this post! The black dog has been visiting me lately too, and just loved having a different way to see it! Love you!

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