The Black Dog


I know this is exactly what I need to write about this week, because of the level of resistance I feel about it.

You see, sometimes The Black Dog still haunts me.

He likes to sidle into my room, late at night and whisper “It’s ok. I know you’re a failure. I know you’re defeated. I know you’re overwhelmed. Here - let me help you. Let me tuck you in a little tighter. Let me pull the covers overhead, let me shut out the light, and sleep little one. Sleep. All your troubles will be gone. I know - everything feels so hard right now. But just sink into sleep. Into that soft, velvet darkness. There will be relief”

And I do.

And there is.

The seductiveness of sleep is irresistible.

There is no effort, no thought, no world.

I can hide in every sense of the word.

All the anger, confusion, indecision, sadness, fraudulence, and overwhelm that were once a turbulent sea inside me are replaced by an ocean of heavy emptiness.

It’s that emptiness that gets me in the end. That isolated, hideous disconnection that has me high tailing it to the bedroom.

I do not want to see or hear the world. But more importantly - I do not want to be seen or heard by the world.

“Mama said there’ll be days like this” - The Shirelles {click to tweet}

Fortunately, the Black Dog has left me now. Thankfully, this episode was only a few days long. In the past, they have been much much longer.

Any lingering pockets of sadness are dissipating and I’m much more at ease now.

And I’m left wondering why there is so much shame and stigma attached to depression and mental illness.

Like - if I broke my leg, I would go to the doctor immediately and wouldn’t feel any reluctance to tell people what had happened.

Yet, to open up to someone and say “I’ve been feeling really depressed lately” feels so uncomfortable.

For years, I didn’t even know I had depression. It took the help of a friend to point it out and encourage me to seek counselling.

Over the years, I’ve built up a bit of a toolbox to help me move through to the other side. I’d like to share these tips here.

Not only as a reminder to myself - but also to shed a light for anyone else who might be struggling too.

The Depression 180 Toolbox

1. Know the signs

The thing about most mental illnesses is they’re surreptitious. Hidden. Sometimes even to ourselves.

Beyond Blue is a fantastic website that has a lot of factual information about anxiety and depression. They list some of my classic symptoms

  • Withdrawing from friends
  • Feelings of overwhelm + disappointment
  • Thinking I’m a failure
  • Feeling tired all the time

It’s strange reading them now as they seem so obvious. But when The Black Dog arrives, it doesn’t feel like depression. It feels like something else entirely. Like nothing will ever be ok again and I just want to disappear completely.

Reminding myself of the symptoms gives me a sense of space between myself and the symptoms.

2. Express your emotions

Sigmund Freud believed that depression was “anger turned inward”. I really relate to that. I have a lot of trouble expressing anger. I don’t even like to feel it. (Does anyone?)

But I’ve learned that all feelings (whether we judge them to be good or bad) need to be expressed in healthy ways. Otherwise they fester.

Talk to a professional, call a trusted and wise friend, or even journal it out. Just make sure you get it out of your head.

3. Go outside

Get off the couch. Get out of bed. Go outside.

Depression LOVES the dark. Craves solitude. Makes you tired.

It feels like a gargantuan effort, but walking in the fresh air - especially in the sunshine and near water if you can - is incredibly soothing. It’s like a reset button.

Exercise is a key factor in mental wellness. In fact, studies have shown that a 30min walk is just as effective as an anti-depressant.

4. Stop eating sugar

It’s such a vicious cycle.

When I’m anxious and depressed - the more I want to fill the void with sweet, sweet candy. It’s comfort food for a reason.

Pasta, white potatoes, chips, chocolate, pastries. They all taste fantastic and give us a burst of energy. For a spell.

Until of course the insulin spikes and KABLAMMO! Sugar crash.

The sugar rollercoaster has a huge impact on mood. More reasons here.

5. Get off the computer

The endless scrolling. The obsessive checking. It serves no purpose. You just end up comparing your shitty day with everyone else’s seemingly fabulous life.

No one tweets the fight they had with their partner.

No one Instagrams the ugly cry they had in the shower.

Social media is all about putting your best foot forward. Switch it off and put YOUR best foot forward out in the real world.

6. Understand the emotion

What are you really feeling? And why?

Understanding the root cause of your depression is vital.

For me it usually begins with future tripping and ending with overwhelming fears about money, social anxiety, and the feeling of regression instead of progression.

You need to understand, feel and the treat the underlying cause.

7. Preventative Self Care

Exercise, journalling, talking to my coach (yes, even I have one), meditation, eating nourishing foods, being patient and gentle with myself - these are all things I require on a daily and / or weekly basis.

8. Have the Inner Bullies shown up? 

Dead weight feeling? You betcha they’ve shown up and taken you hostage.

“Who do you think you are?”

“What a fraud!”

“How could you help anyone when you can’t even help yourself?!”

Ah, hello old friends. I think it’s time for you to go to the hammock.


I’m so grateful for the lessons depression has given me. I’m so grateful for the tools that other healers have given me. And I’m really honoured to share them with you.

If you’re struggling right now, please trust me when I say this too shall pass.

If you’ve been struggling for a while - please, seek professional help. It will do you the world of good, I promise.

If you have any other tips that might help me or another reader overcome depression - please share in the comments below. You never know who it might help.

And as always, if you have a friend that you suspect could use a helping hand with the blues - share this post with them. Start a conversation. Reach out. You could make all the difference.

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6 Responses to The Black Dog

  1. Cristina May 28, 2020 at 11:43 am #

    Julia Ross - The mood cure
    Henry Emmos -the chemistry of brain

    • Tahlee May 28, 2020 at 12:10 pm #

      Fantastic! Thanks Christina - those books sound fabulous. Will defintely be adding them to my “To Read” list in a hurry! :)

  2. Beth June 25, 2020 at 12:01 pm #

    Hi Tahlee I found this very useful. Depression is so stigmatised and it is difficult to find helpful resources. Thank you for posting.

    • Tahlee June 25, 2020 at 1:37 pm #

      A pleasure Beth :)

  3. Rebekah July 2, 2020 at 12:15 pm #

    Thank you for sharing so bravely and honestly Tahlee. It takes courage to step into the vulnerability of declaring your truth publicly. I honour you.

    • Tahlee July 2, 2020 at 7:51 pm #

      Thanks Rebekah. As Brené Brown says - vulnerability is the birthplace of connection. I honour you too.

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