Millions of people cope with crippling mental health challenges that affect their day-to-day lives. Understanding what has helped others in the same position and feeling that they are not alone can make a world of difference.
Learning to Love the "Black Dog" is a 40-page self-help booklet – written by ex-journalist Chris Trevor-Wilson – about his experience of living with depression and panic attacks. "There are many books on depression by health professionals, but few by people with personal experience of it. The 'Black Dog’ still calls, but I now look upon him as an old friend rather than a creature to be scared of. That is the essence of this guide, along with a few amusing anecdotes" says Chris. "I have been astounded at the amount of people who are kindred spirits. Sharing how you are feeling with someone else and listening to their experiences is hugely rewarding and has helped me possibly more than anything else. One of my fellow ‘Black Dog’ sufferers calls it ‘Mental Flu’. No case is exactly the same but there are common symptoms”.
Chris shares tips and insights such as:
- We are not alone. About one in five people have a mental health problem at some time in their life
- You are not going mad! Even though you think you are the only person in the world who has ever felt like this
- Don’t expect everyone to understand what you are going through and how you are feeling but DO expect them to believe what you are telling them
- Don’t have any time for the “pull yourself together” brigade. If you could you would - after all you are hardly gaining from this debilitating experience. They are not your friends
- Comfort yourself that people with depression are rarely selfish or greedy. If anything we take on unnecessarily other people’s worries and problems. Ironically, people often think of us as happy-go-lucky, extrovert and quite amusing. We are allowed to feel slightly pleased with ourselves at this point!
- Talk to fellow sufferers. Many people prefer to keep it to themselves and bottle it up. If it works for them, so be it. I’m one who wears his heart on his sleeve and am happy to talk about it
- Don’t hesitate! Find a GP sympathetic towards mental health issues. Just talking to them for 10 minutes can be reassuring and comforting.
We are profiling this super booklet so that it can be shared with fellow sufferers and used by health professionals. It also illustrates the importance that shared experiences can have on others.