> Black Dog Days: How to Deal with Depression
A Few Questions
— Do you pray regularly for the depressed?
— Do you visit them and just be a good friend?
— Do you or someone you know & care for suffer from ‘The Black Dog’?
— Does that addict or drunk or sad co-worker suffer from depression? Do you?
— Do you “helpfully” offer endless free advice and ‘fixes’ because you find dealing with depression really awkward?
~ FOR MANY PEOPLE, depression is a day, a week, a season. It is left behind as an sour note in an otherwise happy life.
In our happy “we can fix everything” universe, TV and movie stories resolve every problem via heroism and happenstance and all is well again. E xcept.. people can break, and sometimes only partly tape and glue and tie themselves half-together again, enough to limp along a while longer.
What Kind Of Beast IS This?
This Black Dog is patient, vicious, and quiet: it has hunted & haunted my parents, and grandparents, and down the genetic pathways for generations. For others, life & crises and trouble starts it up fresh for them.
Yet for others– yes, of all ages– it is interwoven into the very stuff of life, perhaps as far back as memory reaches, a misty shadowed valley that never seems to come to an end, with light only breaking through now and again. The Valley of the Shadow; this vale of tears; the bleak lands where affliction dwells.
Yet even there, Christ the Lord walks and talks with his own sheep. Sometimes, he will shift us up onto his shoulders awhile. Faith can make an infinite difference in the experience & severity of depression. I’m there: so’s He.
All better? Nope.
There are no magic happy-cures, nor skipping through the sparkly flowers on a unicorn– but a costly cross-bearing love which both lightens your burden, and enlightens the path and things around you. Suicide– the permanent solution to temporary problems– may lurk like a vulture on the crag, but need not live on your shoulders.
The proper meds & counselling and living life the best you can any given day will help, too. The grinding miserable trudge can thus become a pilgrimage: but to where?
The shadowed vale of tears is not infinite. God is.
Just A Little Farther
There is a fair City and golden castle farther on ahead, with towers and steeples and fair pennons flying.. you know not exactly how far.. but in it is light, and peace, and no more pain or black dogs, suffering or tears, and all the former things are passed away. There are battles to fight and people to help along this path– and many needing help– on our way.
And perhaps in that City, the black dog– which can teach us so much about perseverance, tribulation, compassion and understanding– will be revealed as having golden fur, for the troubles that lead us closer to God are blessed troubles. St. Paul besought the Lord to remove his sufferings, and instead, God said “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Without such hope and faith and love– and the mercy of God & others– I would be long-dead. Will you walk beside me and the others like me, or pass us by on the other side? ~