More than a wet paper towel…

There’s a black dog on my shoulder again
Licking my neck and saying she’s my friend
Solitude the one thing that I really miss
Guess my life is a compromise

Black Dog on my Shoulder – Manic Street Preachers

Over the past few months I’ve noticed some changes in myself.  At first I wrote it off as age, the ever quickening shifting of sands through the hourglass that is our busy life.  Then half term came.

I’ve been more tired than ever before, even when working long hours in Afghanistan I never felt this level of fatigue. Napping during the day, inability to sleep at night, it all takes its toll.

So then I did what any rational citizen of the 21st century does and consult they doyen of medical knowledge that is Google. Putting aside all of the life-threatening things that I could have I reckon my best diagnosis (and one I’ve subsequently done something about) is a mild form of depression. I know I’m not alone in this and I’m not looking for any special treatment or sympathy (in my old military days sympathy was something found in the dictionary between sh!t and syphilis!)

Recognising the symptoms of poor mental health is something I’ve talked about before in my own blog and at teachmeets. I’ve likened it to boiling a lobster by putting it in cold water and slowly raising the temperature – the lobster doesn’t realise it is cooking until it is too late. What I am particularly bad at is recognising the signs in myself. This time I’ve seen them and I’m determined to do something before it becomes too late. You see we can halt the slide into full blown depression but we have to take action.

Stage 1 for me is admitting the issue. I’ve spoken to my wife and HT this week about how I feel and how I intend to combat the situation. Whilst some of the stressors cannot be removed it’s important that we find ways to deal with them in a positive manner, so that they don’t become the ubiquitous “black dog”.

Stage 2 is regulation. I have to find a release for my frustrations. For this I need to be selfish. Last year when I took up running I felt bad at the time I was taking away from my family when training or taking part in events. I’ve realised this year that this actually made me a better, fitter and happier person. I will get back to exercising as a way of both boosting my physical and mental health.

So where do we go from here?

We have to get better at helping each other, asking how we are and actually listening to the response. You see, we can all easily fall into the trap and not notice until it is too late.

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