Is the wrong career feeding your black dog?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past decade you should know that the ‘black dog‘ is a metaphor for depression. So when I speak of feeding your black dog, I’m not talking about big bags of Pal dog-food to please your four legged friend, I’m speaking rather of those dark, bad things that get under your skin, inflame your aggravation and twist your gut into a churning soup of acid reflux. In other words; those things that make your depression all the worse.

There are many things that can feed your black dog, but lately I’ve been musing on one thing that seems to correlate highly with depression. Career. I’m not talking about your job you must understand, but your career. That which you have committed your life to do to make a living, to make your mark, to make your reputation.

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In my case it was human services. Call it case management. Call it social work. Call it counselling. I fell into it after my past career, administration, had left my white dog wounded and bleeding, and my black dog fat and sated. I told myself my past career had failed because I wasn’t being true to my real self, my real want, and so the black dog had won. I was actually right when I said this to myself, the only problem was that I again lied to myself and said, “gee, human services is the career for me!”

I say I lied to myself when I began to walk this career because I knew deep down in my heart that human services was not the right career to nourish my white dog. I just couldn’t face what the right career was. So I launched into human services and threw tidbits to my white dog by studying and acheieveing a Bachelors degree. As the black dog began to fatten again fed by unhappiness in my first full time human services position post university, I tried to muzzle the dog by changing organisations. For a time I thought I’d nailed that black dog back in his kennel…

…then he began barking again. Slowly at first, then more and more loudly, and then he began snapping at my white dog. I knew I was in trouble. Sadly, I continued on in my career and let the black dog savage my white dog until he lay wounded and bleeding and damn near dead. I finally realised I had to face the truth that I needed to face in order to nourish my white dog back to health and banish my black dog forever.

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I need to be a writer. I need to be writing.

I’ve known it since I was six years old, but because writing is somehow seen in our society as a career sought only by flakes, hippies, or indies, I felt compelled to follow society’s rules and seek an “acceptable” career. And so I did, and so I nearly killed myself in doing so.

No more. The black dog is going back into his kennel. I am following my truest need and thumbing my nose at society. I am stepping away from convention and the “acceptable”, and am putting on my hippy garlands.

I am a writer. I am writing.

It’s about time my white dog was fed.

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*Do you have an unsatisfying career that’s feeding your black dog? Do you have a desire to do something different but are to afraid to try? I’d love to hear from you!

39 thoughts on “Is the wrong career feeding your black dog?

  1. Well done to you. If it’s your true career then go for it. I didn’t find the career that led to my career until I was 32 and then I didn’t qualify until I was 36. So time is not a worry here.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Too often we define ourselves by our job, by what we do to pay the bills – and when that goes, for whatever reason, we crumble. I saw it happen to my father, a strong energetic man, with a mind for business, that turned into a wreck incapable of taking a sane decision after he retired. No more work to do, depression settled in.
    So I agree with your idea that our career is not necessarily what we are doing to pay the bills – maybe our career is what we ARE, not what we DO.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. You’re a very good writer. The way you express it here in addition to all posts on this wonderful site can tell that too. Good luck in your new path and hopefully soon will see your name on books and other media. It’s never too late to choose what you love most.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I have been in health care for years, and it has changed so much because of the insurance companies, the fact that patients and their families all feel like we are out to get them, we are not focused on what is best for their health and they treat us like their own personal punching bags. Arm the average parent with Google and the internet and they feel they have medical degrees. It is very trying and exhausting and I for the most part do not enjoy it anymore. I would like to be a writer, own a plant nursery and never step foot into another hospital. But I have bills to pay and children to get out on their own, so I continue along. Some days are good and other days are absolutely horrible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel your pain. Those are some of the exact reasons I got out. That and feeling as though I’m nothing more than an auditor making sure my i’s are dotted more so than ensuring my clients have their needs met. I hope you can find a way one day to free the writer inside you!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I feel like a punching bag surrounded by a lot of incompetent people. Can’t wait to be a translator or a writer. I just love both activities. I too have to make a living, so I feel you. Luck to us

      Liked by 2 people

      1. This is the first time I hear of this scale, Jessica. I looked it up and found out I must be in an INFJ, but I’ll take the test (if it’s not paid ha). What is your personality type according to the scale? Thanks for the tip.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi, Jessica. I’m 27 and I’m definetely calling it quits, while struggling with depression. My white dog is coming back now from a long trip and I’m still working out what could be my career. I’ve been changing jobs for some years now and working in poor conditions. I thought this job was my mission, but I’m beginning to realize I can’t do it. I can’t stand it anymore. Teaching is just too idealized, too overrated. I don’t have the guts anymore, but I still have to make a living, which worries me a lot. If I could leave my job behind today I would, but duty (money) calls. Maybe I’ll become a translator. I really need a flexible job and one that allows me to sit for more than 1 minute. Haha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Renata I feel for you hon. I’ve been there and am just clawing my way out (despite a boss who doesn’t want to let me go!) I’m lucky enough to have a wonderfully supportive husband behind me (emotionally and financially) so I can take on my dream (freelance writing / writing) full time. Until I was able to recognise it was writing that I needed to fill the hole in my soul I was like you; bouncing from one unhappy career to another. I sincerely hope you find your “it” and soon… even a day spent in the wrong career is a day of your life wasted. I’ve spent 26 wasted years. No more.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No more! Your life now will be whatever you want to make of it. Good that you have a supportive husband. I hope I find my “it” too. Or “its” 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I work in higher education, helping professors with their computer media needs, and despite being a good paying job, there are definitely times where I feel like I’m wasting time “earning money” when I could be home writing. Sometimes I just laugh at the absurdity of it, but at the end of the day writing is the single biggest part of who I am. I recognize the need to earn that pesky money, but in the end it’s all in service to writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was having the same convo earlier today with my other half. He wants me to chuck in work (day job work) and concentrate on freelance writing (mostly articles and blogs etc) as a means of making money. My only concern with this is burning out my writing ‘gene’ (for lack of a better word). If I spend all day writing for others, by the time the evening rolls around and I can work on MY piece, I’m just tapped out. So perhaps a ‘normal’ day job is the ticket? Better dust off my BA degree.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well when in doubt, why not test yourself? Perhaps you could set aside a week’s “vacation” to try your hand at writing all the time. If it works out well then you could either start slowly shifting more hours to writing, or test yourself again with a two week vacation.
        I’m actually going to try it this July, one week off from my day job to focus on writing. Of course I’m not quite at a point where I feel I could leave my day job, but I think it’s good to know whether I have the necessary self discipline to do it at all. *fingers crossed*

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I try to map out a writing session, or a day/week. I like to create a weekly table where I note when I spend time on writing and how I spend it, for each day. Then if I feel myself slipping I look at that table and ask myself “Do you really want to meet that quota? Then you better get back to it.”

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  7. Very interesting read 🙂 I like the expression of the ‘white dog’ and that is a very cute photo too, so I’m definitely sold. I have a creative passion as well but trying to find something to pay the bills while I figure it out. It’s not easy. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve been feeding the black dog for 13 years! I just passed my 40th birthday and I am in the midst of looking for another job. I’ve talked about it for years but I feel like I’m at a now or never point in my life. It’s very depressing to think I started at the company I currently work for when I was in my 20’s. I cannot believe I let an entire decade slip through my fingers. I feel as though my current job has zapped all of my creativity and I know the toxic environment I work in is not doing me any mental health favors. Glad to have a name for it now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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