Saturday, June 29, 2013

The "Black Dog" of Depression! Biting it Back.

Fighting back ... and biting the ‘Black Dog’ of depression on the Ass. Great title for a blog post. Too easy.

If only it were that simple.

Most of you who have given me the honor of following my life through my books have commented on my strength. I have looked at those comments again and again recently, and I wonder ... where is she, that feisty female?

Where did it go, that ‘strength’? Have I lost it? Or was it not strength at all? 

Was it more likely my pig-headed determination after all, and not that inner resilience that one can draw on in times of great distress?

You know me well enough by now to know, that rightly or wrongly I have always been my most devastating when threatened.

What the hell happened to that?

There would be no point in even attempting to write this blog entry if I hadn’t decided at the outset to be honest.

Honesty does not always bathe us in an aura of golden light. It can be, and at times must be, clinically cold. It is, and I must be hypercritical of self if the point of the article is to make any sense at all.

So … let’s take a walk together, you and I. Hold my hand, (for I need it) and I’ll guide you through the past five months of my crazy life, in the hope that when we reach today, not only you, but I, will have a greater understanding of depression … and…the self destructive behavior that perpetuates the cycles of darkness when they begin.

This is not a prettied up version of events.

I live in a small two-bedroom apartment with my daughter and 11 month old Grandson.

I have not walked out the door of the apartment for 18 weeks.

Where did the Summer go? When did the crisp green leaves of Summer change to the golden hues of Autumn and fall to the fast growing coldness of the ground beneath? When did the neighbor’s children stop playing ball in the parking lot, and shouting delighted cries of challenge from the pool in the warmth and never ending daylight of our Australian Summer? Where the hell did that time go? It's lost to me now, I can't recapture it or relive it, I can only mourn its passing.

When did my darling daughter’s face begin to carry that look of worry?

When did I cease to notice or even care that I hadn’t bathed or even brushed my hair in weeks? When did a few glasses of wine once a week or so become anesthesia to wash away my fear?

Blaming my deteriorating health would be convenient. And yes … my health is bad, very bad in fact. BUT … it has been heading this way for a very long time.

I had a choice to take preventative measures, not to cure, because it is not curable, but at the very least to have given me some sense of control over time spans and a measure of comfort. I refused to do so.

Am I weary of being on guard all the time?…Damned straight!

Am I weary of always being perceived as the tough woman that survived so much? Sure I am. But that is the person I chose to be.

I recognize the presence of fear again.

I have tasted the bitterness of it like bile in my mouth many times in my life. 

Why now has it's presence become so devastatingly present? Why at almost 60years of age am I like the small child I once was with no control of her life in a world gone mad?

Fear is a devastating task master, make no mistake. If you allow it the upper hand it will strip the flesh off your bones with no apologies. I am afraid to look in any mirror, for the ravages of time and ill health show me a face that should be serene ... but is not.

I am afraid if the food in the cupboard runs down. 

I am petrified if the bills mount up and I simply have to wait a week or two to begin clearing them.I am aware of the vulnerability of relying on a pension payable by a government that has no insight into what it feels like to be at their disposal.

I began to isolate.


I am comfortable in my isolation. That is the deadliness of it. I sit in the early hours of the morning, when my body craves sleep; I sit on the balcony, comforted by the darkness and the lack of necessity to communicate with neighbors who in the daylight hours may have looked up and smiled, or even raised a hand in friendly acknowledgement.

 How dare they intrude. How dare they even notice me there? For surely if I sat still and unmoving I ceased to be visible to them … didn’t I?

Caring for my baby Grandson during the day is probably the only thing that gives me any semblance of normality. He demands as much love as I can give. 

For my daughter and the little guy that love is and will remain unconditional, but how long can I expect her to watch me slowly self destructing? How long can she tolerate the worry?

My grandson and I spend our days laughing and interacting in play. I am not well enough to take him for walks in the park, or walks anywhere for that matter. Simply walking from my room to the kitchen robs me of breath. Physically I am simply unable to walk far at all. Convenient? Perhaps. Can that change? No. I can’t regain the loss of lung function. But I can and must regain the beginnings of life function.

Other events over the past six months have taken their toll.

 Perhaps if everything had not come crashing down at once I would have dealt with it a little better. 


But everything did come at me at once and seemingly out of nowhere and all within a very short space of time.

A long term relationship that I treasured, ended. I hadn’t seen the signs, too caught up with everything else that needed my attention I guess. A poor excuse really, I could and should have seen the warning signs.

 I didn’t.

Reason can’t substitute for feeling. 

I now have a dear friend still, but no longer my lover. 

It took me a while to recognize that the visits were less and less frequent, the phone calls that had once come every day just for the comfort of hearing my voice, suddenly became weekly, and then not at all. 

Did I ever tell him that the only time I ever felt truly safe were those times in his arms? The times when I would simply lay there, listening to his breathing and know with absolute certainty that I could fall asleep, safe in the knowledge that he would awaken instantly if I moved. Safe in the knowledge that he would give his own life to protect me if I were under threat.

I miss him. 

I shall always miss him.

My writing? What have I written in the past 10 months? Hah! I finished a work of fiction that had been hanging in the back roads of my consciousness for a long time. But it was only one chapter that needed doing.

I wrote 65,000 words of another piece that for reasons that don't really matter a damn anymore have been relegated to the trash heap. Apart from that... zilch!

Until today. 

I need to get this down, I need those of you that have suffered from depression to understand that whilst it is a lonely street you walk...many of us share that same welcome darkness. 

Will I come out the other side of this hideous fog? Only time will tell.  Being here cloaked in the darkness of thought, feels safer than coming out of the damned fog and needing to deal with basic day to day necessities, I don't want to shower for I would then need to look at my body and accept the deterioration.  Even recognizing intellectually what is happening  gives no guarantee that I can act on that recognition and do something about it.

Counseling ... thanks but no thanks. It works wonderfully well for many many people and I am thankful for that. It just isn't for me. I just don't trust folks enough to go that road again.

I haven’t written a blog piece in six months. Today that stops. I realize that the only way back from the darkness is for me to switch on my inner pilot.

Consider it switched on.

Comment and kick me in the ass if you choose. This is going to take quite some time my friends. The damage runs deep. Hold me in your thoughts, comment as and how you will. 

Soooz ain’t dead yet! She just smells that way.


  1. Brava, you have taken the first steps, and on your own, too which makes that even more impressive. Hopefully your friends will noodge you gently in the direction of re-engaging and sharing your insights.
    Welcome back, dear lady. You have been missed.

    1. Thanks, Diane. It will be slow going my lovely, but with gentle nudging or maybe a swift kick up the ass...I'll get back. <3
      Soooz xo

  2. so happy to have you back! No one is perfect, and sometimes it's only in bleakness that we rekindle the passion that spurs us forwards. It's okay to have highs and lows, it's human

    1. Ah! How damned lucky am I? You guys just didn't give up on me. Thanks, baby girl. It means a lot. Join the Kick her in the Ass Brigade!! Membership is just have to pay to get out...mwahaha!
      Soooz xo

  3. I am your friend on facebook since I read your books. I have experienced depression. My grandson has post traumatic stress syndrome. He would understand the pervasisve fear. It is hard to pull it together. Can your doctor help with antidepressants. I'm sure you have analyzed your self inside and out so understand your not wanting a head doc. You have been through hell and came back. Changes in our life make us sink again. I find the less I do the less I feel like doing especially when depression sets in. You are down under so in the midst of winter I suppose and seasonal affective disorder takes over, but with the solstice over you are coming out of the funk. Get some sunshine. Open the curtains. I don't know know you, but I do. Hang in there and the best of possible heath to you mentally and physically. I just turned 70 and understand how this lifelong depression can kick you. Now your readers will kick you back. Thanks for your great books. Jean Hansen from Grand Mound, Iowa USA

  4. Good to see you Soooz. I completely understand where you are coming from and get it. You just made such a huge difference by calling it out, because even though its safer there most times, all hidden and dark, you have friends who understand it and live with it. I can tell you for one, without certain people in my life to plant a foot up my ass, I'd still be there wilting away. Good to see you again.

  5. Soooz, I am so glad you posted this. And WOW...what writing! You still do that as well as you ever did. You've written about one of the darkest,most debilitating and soul-draining afflictions imaginable, and you've done it beautifully. Bravo! Advice? The only thing I can offer of any value is to try to live for that here-and-now. All any of us are guaranteed is the very moment we are living out at any given time. I, and many, many others, are so glad to have you back. We missed ya!

  6. I am ecstatic that you are back and taking control. I NEED to read another of your books. I have read them all without stopping. You are one awesome writer and can't wait until you bring out another one. Get well dear lady!! You have been missed by many.
    I missed you a LOT!!


  7. Well, well, well. I post a lightweight, trivial thing on Facebook, am delighted to get a comment from Soooz about it and (suddenly, I'm ashamed to say) I realise I haven't seen you around for a while. I comment on that and you dismiss it, simply saying that you'd written a blog about it. So I come to your blog and read it and want to kick myself for not having noticed or wondered before. However, I won't kick myself because, in the blog as well as in a couple of replies to comments, you make it clear that any kicking should be reserved for your ass. I take a size 10 (UK sizes) and am wearing black asics trainers at the moment so consider one being planted violently against your backside on the hour every hour for as long as you think it'll do you any good.

    Seriously, Soooz, I was sorry to read what you've been going through and wish that there really were something we could do about it. But I recently finished reading A Life Too Short, the story of the top German goalkeeper Robert Enke. He suffered from depression and it reminded me of how little I knew about it and how wrong most of us are in our attempts to help people out of it. All I can say is that, through reading your books and having these wee contacts with you online, there are a lot of us who do feel we know something of you, admire you for what you've overcome, care a lot about you and would do anything we could to help you through this. The fact that so many of us are tens of thousands of miles away is a bugger but caring doesn't recognise distances. If there are any words we can send or anything else we can do, just say so. I hope we (and you) get our Soooz back soon. XXX

  8. Hey Soooz.
    Life begins today, seize it by the throat and don't let go.
    Get one of those mobility scooters and begin to terrorise the neighbourhood. Take your grandson to the park in it and be the coolest granny in the town.
    Open your mind and see the adventures within as well as those outside. The only cages we have are the ones we choose to allow to bind us.

    Remember, it is only too late if you are dead, and that Jesus (reputably) cracked that one too. Life is for living.


  9. I've dealt with depression for as long as I can remember and can honestly say I know what you're going through but you are heading in the right direction by putting it out there and asking for help. It can be a slow road back but you can and you will come out of it ! Of course I don't know you but I do know that you're a brilliant writer and you have a daughter and grand child that love and need you. You're also a human being that just happens to be stuck right now .Keep posting and asking for encouragement will prevail!

  10. hi Suze,
    thankyou so much for being so open and up front about the highs and the lows in your life. I have bipolar, so can relate somewhat to what you've been through. Depression can at times be so paralysing. I am so glad that you are again on the up and up. You are very lucky to have such a lovely daughter and such a sweet grandson.
    Hang in there Suze,
    you are worth it xx

  11. Soooz, as always you are devastatingly honest. Everything Tom said about your writing is so true, and much more. I am horrified by what I've just read. I haven't been much on facebook myself since Christmas – health issues. But I wondered from time to time why I never seemed to hear from you. All I can offer you are my prayers, dear Soooz. I'm sharing this blog, because it will be of such help to others in the same position, but I wish so much it had never been written because it had never happened. You of all people deserve a happy and peaceful life. But then, I suppose all good writers suffer, and that's where their genius flows from. All my love, dear Soooz. Be back to your normal self very soon!

  12. Soooz - not only was that a brilliant piece of writing, showing what a competent author you are, but it also shows (if proof were necessary) was a brave courageous person you are. I can't say anything to help, or change your situation. I wish it were that simple, just to wave my hand in the air and everything would be fine. Sorry, can't do it. If I could I'd gladly solve everyone's problems, including my own battle with cancer. All I can say is clearly there are people around who, maybe will never meet you, do care in their own way. And all are willing you to the road to recovery. I don't know if you are religious, it doesn't matter. I believe in God, and his son Jesus, and I believe in the power of prayer. I'll say a couple for you.

  13. The black dog and I are old frenemies - if anyone can break his grip it is you, my dear. My thoughts are with you always.

  14. Normaly I would try the hard love way of going by saying, Hey put your Big Girl Panties On, Look inside your self and Start realizing how lucky you really are.But having dealt with depression myself for many many years myself, and complicated health issues, its much easier to say to do that sometimes then actually do it.....Instead, I will say this..... You are valued, a work of art in the making as we are all...Pray, for stillness and guidence in your mind and heart.Live for a small moment of happiness if it is only that moment and seek out those moments.Reach out to help , as you have already with your books, those were as much for others as for yourself....Forgive yourself.... find something to love about you even if it only your big toe...You have already shown you have the courage to face these obstacles... I am thinking of you a country away....... You have made a diffrence in my life...

  15. Soooz Get your disgusting body back into that shower. Scrub like there's no tomorrow. Who cares a F*** what your body looks like you can cover it with clothes woman.
    Your eyes will always shine honey and that's what everyone will see first.
    Remember when you was writing EC and you said to me I just cant do it? I wrote to you as I remember and you managed to successfully finish it. Not because I kicked you up the arse but because you had the strength and determination.
    You have so much strength of character Soooz and I'm one of your biggest fans you know that.
    Mind you the bastard tears still fell when I read the blog.
    You always know where to find me my love.
    Tee xxx

  16. How incredible, people I have never met face to face, caring, loving, human beings have taken the time to comment on my post, and not only comment but in most cases cheered me on in the marathon I am about to head out on. Even a size 10 boot up the ass. Hell I needed that. How do I thank you my friends? For that is indeed what you are...friendship is a magical, mystical thing and I have begun to realize that it doesn't matter a damn if we have ever met face to face. We have connected soul to soul. Soooz is gonna climb out of the pit. Thank you all for sending the guide ropes down to help me.
    Much love....

  17. Soooz, I am so glad to see you back! One day at a time (as trite as that may seem) is what gets us through the smelly stuff until our vision begins to clear. Losses aren't easy. Blessings on you in every way possible.


  18. All the best to you, Sooz. You've taken the big step. Look the dog in his snarling face. Hugs.

  19. Been there too Soooz and it's a very lonely place to be. I know how you're feeing and I also know no one can help - professional or otherwise. It has to come from something within us. I have no idea if you'll read this or not, but a doctor once told me, it takes years to get this bad and it won't get better overnight. One small baby step at a time until before you know it, you take a whole big stride.

    You don't need us to tell you how strong you are, or how much everyone admires you - even that is a burden to keep up to. It becomes something others expect to see in us and we can't give them it any more. It is exhausting trying and we don't want to fight just to keep others thinking how strong and brave we are any more. We become selfish in our need to wallow in our depression and self-pity.

    You wallow and take your time my friend. When your mind and body is ready, it will allow you to start the long slow climb back out again. In the meantime, keep safe, know you're loved by many and we will wait as long as it takes for you to come back and feel able to join us once again. Just to let you know, we're still here, we're still waiting Lorraine xxxxx

  20. Just passing by and wanting to say hello to one of my special friends. Hehe, of course you are a special friend, Soooz - after all, how many people that I've never actually met do I consider my friends? Well, almost no one, since you are one-of-a-kind :)
    Oh, and about that writing stuff - make it happen! :)


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