Black Dog

So I’ve written about depression previously in my Blog “Purpose”. That Blog was an effort to be positive about a condition many Veterans deal with and share my tips on how I deal with it. Written with good intentions, feedback I received was positive in that others found it useful and that they weren’t alone. But what about when these tips don’t work, when everything you try fails and no matter how hard you try you can’t find motivation for anything.

Over the last couple of months the “Black Dog” has had a vice like grip on me and no matter how much I try I can’t seem to shake him. It’s so bad that my wife has commented about the amount of time I’ve spent on the lounge and I only leave it when I’m volunteering. Even my daughter, who is very conscious to how people feel, has told her mum that I always look sad.

To be honest I don’t know what is driving the depression only that I need to break the pattern. Medical experts aren’t sure what causes it and theorise it’s linked to biological differences, hormones, hereditary or brain chemistry. For me I guess that it’s linked to my PTS which relates back to my service. In saying that I don’t think its the memory or the traumatic events that cause it. I think its the lack of adrenaline, daring and risk associated with these events coupled with the culture within which I experienced them.

Looking at life, I and others judge me as successful. I have a family that loves me, friends I can depend on, financially secure with no debt and all the time in the world to do what I want. When I get out and do activities such as camping and diving I have a great time and come home with memories worth discussing. So I guess you could say I’m living the dream. So why the depression?

After twenty plus years in the military the gap of excitement and culture is expansive. From living these experiences everyday to occasionally catching up with others to reminisce or DRA deployments for the culture experience is a big step. Looking at it this way I can see how it fits into the criteria described by experts. Effectively the body and mind moves from a “prepared for war” (excited) status to “prepare for the mundane” (depressed).

One of the things I really miss is catching up with shipmates down the pub of a Friday afternoon and “spinning warries” (story telling). In this environment you could laugh and cry over experiences without being judged by others. While not a substitute for the service adventures these times do provide a gap filler for a period of time. As we all get older and leave the service our priorities change and we become less and less available for these times.

I think I’m taking the first step to shake the Black Dog by talking about it and forcing my self out of the house, even if for short periods. Why it happened when it did I have no idea. The same for preventing it in the future. One day you feel great and the next . POW, it gets you. It is something I need to continually fight and not just for myself. That depression may be hereditary truly scares me. It’s not the legacy I want to leave my children. That my daughter recognises and talks about it means I need to fight even harder now.

There are a heap of organisations available for all of us fighting the Black Dog. For our families as well. It can be hard to reach out when you are bitten. Take it from me that reaching out is the only way to deal with it. Talking to others, helping them understand what you are going through and that even if they can’t do anything but listen it still helps. If I’m striking a chord with you then send an email or call me on (0429) 979-972.

I’m going to fight the good fight for myself and family and if you need a hand I’m there for you as well.

Published by zimmermanwalks

An Australian military veteran, I spend my time volunteering for a number of organisations and blogging on the challenges faced by Veterans.

One thought on “Black Dog

  1. Familiar story. Only difference may be the lounge thing. While I have DRA, veterans shed and some rural contracting to fill the gaps I have to keep busy all the time.


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