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Dancing with the Big Black Dog

Dancing with the Big Black Dog

I know it’s been coming for a while – there’s been some sleep deprivation, a few personal road blocks, and a loss of work-related momentum – but today I had a visit from the unwanted ghost of horrors past.

10 years post my soul destroying battle with Post Natal Depression and Anxiety (PNDA), most of the time I’m just fine. I’ve learnt throughout the years that I am just better to stay on my medication than go off, but that aside, I can go months upon months of operating ‘just like any other mother’.

But every now and then, as I was today, I am reminded of the scars that run deep, and I wonder to myself, after all this time…will that big black dog ever let me go?

Today, after a particularly spectacular round of needling and spiteful behaviour from one of my daughters, I found myself at a breaking point which until now was a – thankful – distant memory. Not being on top of my game personally she managed to hit a sweet spot which drilled right into the core of me and opened up a scar laced with fury, desperation and, finally, defeat.

I did everything I could to hold on. I tried to distance myself, but she wouldn’t be distanced. I tried to quiet her tirade, but she wouldn’t be silenced, I tried to reprimand her but she did not care.

Sometimes the world just doesn’t help. Unfortunately for me my husband is away, so there was no cavalry to call. Having already promised the children a treat dinner (the offender missed out obviously) I tried to treat myself to a healthy dinner from a take away nearby…inexplicably, it was closed. Defeated, I drove home in tears and as I pulled into the garage I began to feel the black dog rising – “why am I doing this, HOW will I get through this, will I ever ‘make it’”…WILL I EVER BE FREE FROM A RETURN OF THIS AWFUL DESPERATION?

And the answer is, I don’t know. I really don’t. I assume one day, when my kids are (MUCH) older, I will look back and realise my battle is finally over and the black dog that leaps now when it most smells fear had been laid to rest while I wasn’t watching. What I DO know however, with the benefit of time, is that there is a distinct difference between the black dog that devoured me 10 years ago, and the one that lingers now.

The original PNDA black dog is best described, in my case, as a large and angry beast that will bay and naw at you until you can no longer sustain the fight, and will sit on your chest while you are down for the count, daring you to go another round. It is powerful, vicious, and not easily overcome. The current version, as silly as this sounds, is just like that same dog has aged with me. He’s still angry and capable of lunging, but he’s older now and has less bite. Once I recover from the surprise of his attack, I can generally wrest myself free, lick my wounds and carry on. It is still hurtful, but not debilitating and with each subsequent recovery I can move forward in the hope that one day that old tired dog will just slip away into the night.

It is a relief to feel, at this end of the spectrum, that at least it will be him slipping away into the night, rather than me as was so almost the case a long 10 years ago.

If you or someone you know is suffering with Post Natal Depression and Anxiety, there is a wealth of resources available and help is free. Please see our PND Info Page for direct links to resources.

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