One in five Australians will suffer from depression as some stage in their lives. Dubbed the black dog by Winston Churchill, it is one of the biggest medical problems facing the world today.
"There are many different breeds of Black Dog affecting millions of people from all walks of life. The Black Dog is an equal opportunity mongrel."
The nickname implies both familiarity and an attempt at mastery, because while that dog may sink his fangs into one's person every now and then, he's still, after all, only a dog, and he can be cajoled sometimes and locked up other times.
"Our society unfortunately still has these strange ideas about depression – that weak people get depressed. If weak people get depressed then why did Winston Churchill get depressed? Why did Abraham Lincoln get depressed? Why did Charles Darwin get depressed?" Dr Ian Chung.
As with many health issues, particularly in the area of mental health, the help available to those with depression is unfortunately dependant on their income and the support network around them.
For some, this has meant taking medication in conjunction with therapy and lifestyle changes. Others have found that they are able to manage their condition without the need for ongoing medication. Whilst some find that neither therapy or current medications available help. Medications that work on brain function are often discovered by accident whilst researching cures for other conditions. It is a case of trial and error when prescribing anti-depressants and in some cases there is not a drug that matches the sufferer’s personal chemical imbalance.
Some insider quotes that I found that put things in to words beter than I can:
"Asking a 'normal' person to understand what is going through the mind of someone suffering mental illness is like asking a cow to understand the point of view of a budgerigar. The two sides are so completely different to make mutual understanding very difficult indeed.
Just as a one-legged man can't get up and walk, a depressed person can't perceive the world and emotions in the same way as a healthy person. Depression completely changes a person's world-view. Their logic is completely different from yours and therefore reasoning with them is difficult."
(Warwick Rendell) sent me an exceptional post from earlier this year - Depression in my own words.
"But occasionally, there are those days. Days where the mask is tissue-paper thin. Surviving the day is an act of will that leaves a lingering exhaustion that seeps into your bones. Like a drowning man in a flash flood, you wrap yourself around the hope that the waters will recede soon, and you'll be safe and dry again.
At least until the next deluge."
Warwick concisely sums up how each day can seem like a marathon, expending energy to maintain the facade of normality. He accurately describes the exhaustion that infects every cell, despite having done nothing to merit it. We cling on. And we keep clinging on, because we know what will happen if we let go.
"Depression, probably the most obvious condition leading to suicide, is a prison filled with repeat offenders, and the crime of melancholia has a startling recidivism rate. But it is not a prison in which rights are respected, nor is humane treatment the standard fare. Rather, the jailer is a fickle torturer who punishes his charges without mercy. The depressed person inhabits a cell with a tiny window and iron bars, is beaten, burned, electrocuted, and flayed by the guards, left shivering and in pain, while relatives and friends may visit, blind to both the unbearable wounds he suffers and to the bars which hold him. Bewildered, they cannot understand why he doesn't rise and walk through the empty doorway; they do not understand his pain; and they may inflict guilt or further torture by sneering at his condition or offering pointless advice ("What's the matter with you? Just leave!") which only exacerbates his suffering. Because they do not see the bars, the walls, the jailer, the prison grounds, they cannot take his pain seriously. It is an enigma to them. They can give him little, if any, comfort."
Those of us who recognise Antonio's prison know that we are only on parole, probably for the rest of our lives, with the threat of a return to that barred cell always hanging over us. It is a tough reality to know that we stand that much closer to the edge of the precipice than our friends and family who can't even see the cliff.
I designed this logo to put as a badge on each of the bikes I build
I’m hoping these bikes I am building will be fast enough to out run the black dog’s relentless chase.