When the Dog Bites – (A Mental Health Share)

For me, there is a purging and release in writing. In sharing this I feel like it allows me and others to accept that there is an ebb and flow in life, to acknowledge that there is sometimes so much going on beneath the surface and that the domain of mental health is an area that as a “society” we are still on a steep learning curve as to how to see it and how to deal with it. 

I have heard the darkness referred to as the Black Dog. It is the allusion to this that has lead me to call this piece “When the dog bites” 

It feels like it is an insulated world. One where I am attacking only myself.

I am quiet and withdrawn, self-contained I thought but clearly not as contained as I think I am.

I am clear that I am not going to erupt. I am clear that I am not looking to create conflict, provoke an argument, or a fight. I used to do that in the past. I don’t do that anymore.

I contain myself. I am solitary. I don’t answer calls or texts. I stay off my email and my phone. I don’t engage with social media. I don’t engage with anybody unless I have to.  

I meditate, I eat very little. I crave sleep but the exhaustion is existential so the sleep won’t make it go away or refresh me. It is a totally different type of exhaustion. Only people who suffer mental pain understand it.

It is so totally overwhelming. My head feels like it is going to explode and my eyelids are so heavy. My breath is stuck in my throat. My voice box is closed and my eyes, they just want to stare downward.

I am afraid of everyone and everything other than my two-year-old daughter. At times I can’t even touch her or look her in the eye but those moments are few. 

I feel like I am being attacked by everything, of course by myself the most and that is the irony and the paradox. 

Everything feels so far away yet the sounds are invasive. Like a smack. I have to close my eyes to them. The sound of a chair leg scraping, a hum of a car, the call of a bird, the sound of my wife’s voice. All of them feel like an attack. 

Logically, rationally, I know they won’t hurt me. Logically and rationally I know I am losing part of this beautiful day. Logically and rationally I know that at some point I will come back. That I will open again, that this, this monster will recede again, disappear for a while.

I am fortunate if that be the word. I don’t need or use drugs or alcohol to numb it. 

I am also fortunate that I know it is going to go away and that I just need to ride it out for however long it is here. If it were to persist for weeks or months I would write something different. That would not be sustainable. I couldn’t do that. I would put an end to it.

For now, I will be alone, I will disconnect from everyone and everything. I will breathe shallowly. 

I will do things slowly. 

I will remain as quiet as I possibly can until this has passed.