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Friday, January 8, 2010

The Black Dog

Ruth Ostrow, writer for The Australian answers the question of what she was most grateful for over the past 12 moths. Amazingly, she said it had been a bout of depression. This is her story of the Black Dog.
David Byrne of Talking Heads once sang these words to his beloved "Time won't change you, money won't change you, I need something to change your mind.......Drugs won't change you, religion won't change you, science won't change you, looks like I can't change you.....I need something to change your mind.
As 2009 draws to an end, I have thought a lot about the song and its relevance to my year. I can imagine my friends singing it to me, "Love won't change you, sex won't change you, childbirth won't change you.... I need something that will change my mind. And so finally I have the answer. With regards to myself at any rate, depression will change you, I've found something that will change my mind.
Each year, coming up to New Year's Eve, I reflect on what I'm most grateful for over the past 12 months and strangely in 2009 it's been a bout of depression I've been battling. Though it's been a protracted bout, intolerable at times, at times causing me to wander the earth in search of meaning like a hungry ghost, this episode has been the only thing that's ever really changed me, shamed me. Tenderised me. Humbled me. And reshaped me brutally mercilessly and mercifully - like a tsunami raging through the brain.
As the year draws to a close, I feel renewed. I've been washed clean, so many old patterns divested. So much unneeded baggage and outdated beliefs from generations past, swept away in the foam. Much has had to die so that better things can grow. To misquote Paul Keating, it's the depression I had to have.
With the care and support of Professor Gordon Parker and his team at the Black Dog Institute, I have emerged a simpler person. Awakened. And more determined to find solace in this wonderful human family to which we all belong.
So I say only this. Don't be afraid to empty. In emptyness we are most ourselves, aware of every precious second, aware of existing for a mere blink of time. We don't need very much at all, we never did. It's so liberating to be 'nothing' no thing, nothing to be or do, nothing to cling to, nothing to lose, nowhere to go or be better than here, now.
As my last column for the year, I wish you all this: May you find your sacred "empty place" which you can start to refill anew, with creativity and mindfulness, as 2010 dawns.
I like this lady, her honesty and her logic, no need to rush around like a hedless chook looking for meaning to fill your days, like she says, we don't need very much at all, we've got it all right here, with us right now and it's been there all along.
If you are feeling miserable and low or your anxiety levels are raging out of control or you've had one too many panic attacks, take the test for depression here - help is just a click away.