Depression is a subject that has been Taboo for too many years. It is a subject that is rarely spoken about, even to this day when so many people have come out and bravely said “I have depression and I need help.” So many people misunderstand what it really means to suffer from depression; how hard it is to just “shake it off and move on.” like the rest of us.
For those with depression it can become debilitating and can sometimes result in suicide. It’s those cases that shake up a family unit and a lot of friends, because even though we know they’re struggling and we try to help, they can put up quite a front to those around them, one that convinces us that suicide is not an option, that they can fight this, that they can see they have a support system and that they will be ok.
But the truth is, those with depression are never just okay. They will always need that extra support no matter what. I, myself can suffer from depression. There have been times when rage has just taken over my body and I couldn’t control it. The stress, anxiety and expectations from myself are always set too high and I bottle it up until it spills out. There are ways to cope with it all; to set better limits for myself, to take time out and meditate, draw, write, read, practice yoga, exercise, anything to ground myself. But it’s the ability to realise where your point of no return, or the tough return is and that is a hard part to understand. I know my type of depression is not the type I can’t come back from, but there are so many others that struggle so much more than me; those that need to learn their triggers, to know when they need a time-out to centre themselves, to realise that it is okay to say ‘you’re not okay.’
Support is needed in everything that those that have depression struggle with and this book gives that kind of support; in secret, if they want, or to share with the rest of the world. It gives them other outlets to let them discover themselves in their own way – to say it’s okay if I need this time to draw, colour in, write, scream, yell, run, fight (for your life). And it is okay to take care of yourself, otherwise who really does?
Depression is a flaw in brain chemistry not character.
This book combines so many different outlets of creativity and imagination that it would appeal to almost everyone. There are brain activities to do, like mazes to show you that there are always ways to get out of your own mind, a situation you’re in, or to escape your own depression; and comparisons between “apples and oranges” two completely different things so that you can compare the two and realise that even though you are different to other people, those other people are also different to you, and as Oscar Wilde said “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” It is a beautiful thing to be different and to realise that’s what makes you even more beautiful or handsome to other people. It also gives you an inner strength that you never knew you had before.
Challenging the Black Dog also gives you opportunities to write about positive experiences, a letter to yourself, stories that reflect positive moments in your life and goals that you want to achieve. Having written it all down, gives you the opportunity to reflect on those words, when your mind is so full of darkness that it is hard to bring up anything positive. Those words that you write can help you see that there is a light burning inside that darkness; a light that can only get bigger the more you focus on it. And those words will be your focus in these times to help you through it. That’s what the author is hoping to achieve – to bring out your inner voice when that voice is suddenly snuffed out.
It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.
– Aristotle, pg 30
Visualisation, like meditation, is a wonderful tool this book helps you with. It has pictures you can colour in, and those colours reflect your emotions that you are struggling with. It brings the pictures into a better light than just the greys and blacks inside of your own mind. On page 8, it gives you the chance to put your life on a timeline, to catalogue each important moment that you found had a impact on your life up until your present age, to show you that no matter how far you think you’ve come, you have gone through more what you realise, no matter how big or small. You have survived. You have grown. You have changed.
In one circumstance it asks you to draw a locked room with a monster in it; to bring it to life, so to speak and then changing that picture so that you can escape that monster. Being able to see what you are afraid of can be empowering. Bringing your fears to life, to come face to face with something your afraid of also gives you the chance to see it for what it really is, to know that just because it’s there, it doesn’t mean you can’t take it away either. You have the power to change your story, to change what is going to happened. You have the strength to pull through what you first thought was an impossible situation. By drawing a locked room with a monster inside and then magically a key appears in the room somewhere, or a stun gun turns up to immobilise the monster while you break down the door, it gives you the power to defeat that monster (depression) that is keeping you locked up in a room (your own mind).
If you’re going through hell, keep going.
– Winston Churchill pg. 178-179
This book also has the opportunity to have a friend or family member to contribute. On page 70, it suggests that you find someone you have a lot of trust in to write you a pep-talk, something you can look back on and read in moments that you need a bit of extra help with, without having to ask for it. With this opportunity it gives you the chance to “pick yourself up”, to know that you are important in someone else’s eyes and realise that you are worth every bit of breath you take, no matter how slow you may take them. Everyday moments are precious and with this written-down pep-talk, you can see what your friend or family member feels about you and how much they want you to survive this, that you are strong enough to overcome it. When people are talking to you, quite often you can tune out what they’re saying. Sometimes it can be done on purpose, sometimes it’s out of your control. Words that are spoken are often harder to hear than those that are written when you’re suffering from depression, which is why, I imagine V.J. Cast has suggested having a written pep-talk and later on down the track it could possibly be memorised and repeated like a mantra.
I like how V.J. Cast has created a book full of so many creative challenges to help you tackle depression in different ways without pointing out the obviousness of what you are doing. It helps you come to the conclusions yourself, as to what you are really accomplishing. That depression, no matter how deep you’ve been dragged down, there are many ways to escape it, to show you, that you are strong enough to stand up and fight back, to not be ashamed of who you are or needing that extra bit of help to guide you through life. It is not your fault that you suffer from depression. And it is not your fault that it is a struggle every day of your life. But with this book; this wonderfully, helpful book, you can help yourself to tackle everyday life head on and not regret a thing because you are trying, you are fighting and you are surviving everything that is thrown at you. You are enough.
To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.
– Oscar Wilde pg. 64