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.
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.
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.
*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!