Black Dog Days
Having days that are lost or wasted through feelings of worthlessness, unproductiveness, low self-esteem, low energy, lack of inspiration, and sometimes the worst kind of self-hate, are torment. They are also difficult to talk about because people try to fix you by giving well-meaning advice.
‘Go for a walk, why don’t you?’
Are you kidding?! There are other people out there that I would have to be polite to. Being around other people makes me feel worse. And have you seen the weather?! It’s not going to happen, okay?
‘How about a healthy lunch?’
Oh yeah, food… I forget to eat properly when I’m having a black day. Thanks. But would you prepare it please, I’m likely to burn or smash everything. I really am useless today. Oh no – I tell you what – just fetch me the cooking sherry and a massive bar of chocolate so I can hate myself some more.
‘Play some happy music.’
What’s happy music? I can’t remember what cheers me up. If I put on something too jolly it will just irritate me. How about Mahler and a good cry…? Morrisey? Leonard Cohen? Oh leave it… It’s all getting too complicated. I can’t make any decisions today. I’m useless.
‘Think about the positives.’
Positives?! POSITIVES? Are you crazy? There Are No Positives. It’s just bad, all bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. No, not you, you’re not bad. It’s just me that’s bad. You’re too good for me. You should leave. Everybody leave me alone in my sad little head. I know – I’ll see if I can get a bedsit somewhere and you can all get on with your lives. I’ll start looking for something now. Where’s the local paper? Oh I can’t find it, this house is such a mess. It’s all my fault because I don’t tidy up enough. Did I mention how useless I am?
‘Why don’t you go and see the doctor?’
What? Why? What can a doctor do? I’ll be okay tomorrow. And I’m not having my good days ruined by medication.
These days can happen out-of-the-blue or after a tiring or stressful period, they can occur when you have been otherwise happy, they can take over a perfectly beautiful sunny day or a well-planned day of activity. If, like mine, they can happen whatever the weather then bad weather isn’t a cause but an additional problem.
Some people get very angry, some very sad. I get upset and want to slap myself.
I find it tricky to talk to people because most of what I want to say is negative and the theme is always what a worthless piece of nothing I am.
‘Oh cheer up.’
Yes please. Actually, no. It would be pointless being cheerful this late in the day.
As a creative person, having the wind knocked out of my sails when I had planned a productive day is frustrating to the point of desperation. Today is one of those days. I have spent over five hours – no SIX! – hovering around my laptop, attempting to start one thing after another. I could leave the laptop and do something else but, from past experience, this is not a good idea either. This isn’t just your usual lack of drive, motivation or energy, boredom or sluggishness this is lack of a balanced perception of the world around me. Everything is awful. Everything.
I know it’s not really. But still it is.
And yes. I forgot to eat.
People talk of being visited by the black dog or they call these days ‘black dog days’. When I first tried to find a photo of a black dog on the Internet – I had this crazy idea that I would outdo the moody bugger with a picture of cute black puppy – my Internet connection failed. It would, wouldn’t it? Even Broadband has forsaken me, I’m so useless.
The worst thing is knowing I have lost a day. I can bounce back. I will have productive days again. I will dance around the kitchen again. I will see all the positives and enjoy a walk again. But right now all I can think is how I’ve wasted a day – a day when all the children were at school and I had time and space to be productive and yet I wasn’t. I feel illegitimate and it’s not a good feeling.
Now I have to decide between screaming, slapping myself on the forehead or going back to bed. Nope. It’s too complicated trying to decide. Perhaps I’ll pace up and down.
They make me smile. Even today.
I’m going to get one some day and outbluff this black dog day thing.
Update, June 25th 2011:
We have a black flat-coat retriever! He came home 3 weeks ago and is now 12 weeks old. His name is Dylan and he’s a little b***** but very beautiful and lovely when he’s lovely. We’re really looking forward to the gentle, loyal grown-up dog that we know he will turn into.