Monday, 12 September 2016

The Black Dog has paid me a visit ... but now he has gone

For reasons that will become clear, I have been feeling somewhat depressed for the past few days, but after a good night's sleep the depression seems to have passed.

After the very interesting but somewhat tiring Connections UK 2016 conference last week, I had to go to the funeral of a very good friend on Friday. I had known Rob Morris for over eighteen years, and we were of a similar age. I met him when I joined my Mother Lodge, and almost from our first meeting we seemed to hit it off. He was a man who was a credit to Freemasonry, and I was proud to be able to call him Brother ... and honoured to be addressed as such by him. He was generous by nature and gave of his time and support without hesitation. In Freemasonry we say that a man should aspire to live respected and die regretted, and my friend certainly met – and exceeded – that criteria.

Sunday was the anniversary of my mother's death. She died on 9th September 2002 as a result of complications that arose as a consequence of an operation she had to have after she broke her leg. My last memory of my mother was seeing her sitting up in a hospital bed laughing as Sue and I left after a visit.

These two events, coming so close to each other as they did, rather took the emotional wind out of my sails. It made me rather too contemplative about the meaning and fragility of life, and led to a feeling of depression. That has now passed, and I now realise that I was being rather emotionally self-indulgent, and that life is for living, not worrying about things that you cannot change.

34 comments:

  1. Bob, Every day above ground is a good day. Regards abound Greg

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    1. Delta Coy (Greg),

      Amen to that! I'm feeling much more positive today, and have actually done some wargame-related activity.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. Bob sorry for your loss and your understandable reaction, a natural and healthy one but glad that you have overcome it. Onwards!

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    1. Ross Mac,

      Thank you for your kind words of support.

      A few years ago these two things would have left me feeling bad for weeks, but now I know how to cope far better, and can recover much faster.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. Bob sorry for your loss of a god friend unfortunatly as we get older we see more old friends pass away

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    1. Johntheone,

      I am of an age when I go to far more funerals than I attend weddings and christenings ... but I have to accept that and live with it.

      At very short notice I was asked to say a few words at the funeral, and because I hadn't had time to prepare myself it proved to be quite emotionally difficult. I managed it, and was profusely thanked by the family and his non-Masonic friends, but afterwards I had no idea what I had actually said.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. Glad you are feeling more like yourself and hope you continue to move forward.
    Alan

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    1. Tradgardmastare,

      Thanks very much for your very supportive comments. I am feeling much better today, and hopefully this improvement will continue.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  5. Bob,
    Glad you bounced back quickly.
    I have not heard it phrased that way before -- the black dog that visits me tells me to go down to the airport and take off all my clothes... ummm, never mind.
    Regards,
    John

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    1. The Ferrymen (John),

      Thanks for your kind comment. It is nice to know that there are lots of people out there who care enough to write such comments.

      It was Churchill who referred to his depression as the 'Black Dog', and I just copied his example.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  6. When that Black Dog comes sniffing around, all you can do is whack the bugger on the nose with a rolled up newspaper 'till it comes to heel. Sorry to hear of your recent loss and remembrance, but glad to hear that you've send that bloody mutt packing again. Your work on the hobby is an inspiration to a lot of us here, and though I don't post here much these days, I always keep an eye on what you've been up to.

    (Mostly 'cos I'm sick with jealousy over the glamorous cruise lifestyle you and Mrs C somehow enjoy, while three days glamping in a bell tent in High Wycombe was the best I could manage this year!)

    Best Regards

    Dr V

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    1. Dr Vesuvious,

      Over the years I have learned that the Black Dog will stay as long as you let it, and nowadays the time it spends with me is usually, mercifully quite short.

      Thank you for your kind comments about my blog. Writing it helps me to give a bit of structure to what would otherwise be an even more meandering passage through life.

      All the best,

      Bob

      PS. I've never tried glamping in a bell tent; I suspect that I would mind it less than my wife, who likes the luxury of an on-suite!

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  7. I think a little melancholic 'timeout', perhaps in remembrance of those you have lost, is no bad thing. It doesn't last, one feels the better for it in the long run (I reckon), and it's healthy. Yes, one can become self-indulgent about it and take it to excess. But a few days? Nah. All that shows is that you're human - in the best senses of the word.

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    1. Archduke Piccolo,

      Feeling down at a time when one is dealing with bereavement or the memory of a bereavement is - as you write in your comment - no bad thing, but when ones thoughts begin to become morbid, that is when it starts to become self-indulgent. I have learned to recognise when that stage is developing, and use coping strategies to get me through it as quickly as possible.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  8. Bob,
    I'm glad the black dog did not stay with you for very long. I take my dog for a walk every morning, but when the black dog visits, HE takes ME for a walk. And whilst I pick up after my dog, the black dog does not reciprocate--he seems quite happy to let me foul my emotional footpath, so to speak.

    I do think you were being too harsh on yourself when you said you were being "emotionally self-indulgent"--this might have been true had you just given up, whined about the unfairness of life, and waited for someone else to fix things. Instead, it seems to me you gave some thought to pretty important things, got it sorted out, and moved on in a better frame of mind--an example we all should follow.

    Best regards always,

    Chris

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    1. Chris,

      Your analogy of the Black Dog taking you for a walk is a good one. The most difficult thing that I have had to learn is how to get off his leash and make a run for freedom!

      I take your point that the use of the term 'emotionally self-indulgent' might appear to be rather harsh in these circumstances, but it was how it felt when I wrote my blog entry. Luckily having my wife nearby meant that I could tell someone how I was feeling, which I have found is the first step I need to take to begin to get better.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  9. Condolences on your losses.

    Glad to hear the black dog's visit was fairly brief.

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    1. Fitz-Badger,

      Thanks very much for your condolences. Luckily the Black Dog's visit was a short one this time, and hopefully he won't be back again for some time.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  10. Bob, I remember when my mother died I was a bit upset, of course, but kept it together since I had to make the funeral arrangements and so on. My father died 6 months later so I went around that circle again. My big sister died just a few years after that and I think I was inured to the grief by then and got back on my feet quick enough. It all seemed a very normal part of life and death at that point.

    When I retired a good club friend died then not long after that my best friend died and both of these events sort of shocked me a good bit. I got over them by doing a lot of charity work as a distraction. I made another good friend during that period and I was really shocked when he died suddenly too. These three guys were all younger than myself so that really jolted me.

    I buried myself in my hobby again and with help from family and friends I am a happy bunny again. I don't think I ever suffered from depression during these periods as such but I did stop for a while and think about where do I go from here.

    This great hobby of ours has been a tremendous source of inspiration which we've both drawn on and it has certainly helped. I now have a 6 week old grandson to plan for entrance into the hobby and I expect that I will spend the next decade or two doing just that.

    As ever.

    Jim

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    1. Jim Duncan,

      Dealing with so many deaths of those nearest and dearest to you can be emotionally draining, and the fact that you were able to come through without becoming depressed in any way is commendable. It sounds as if you were able to do it by throwing yourself into doing something, and I wish that such a tactic would work for me. I have tried it in the past ... but somehow it never quite had the result that I had hoped for.

      You are right about our hobby being a source of inspiration and - in times of trouble - distraction from the problems of the real world. It sounds to me as if your newly-arrived grandson is going to be an even bigger reason for you to carry on wargaming. (Have you started building him a toy fort yet?)

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. I'm busy building a toy fort for myself at the moment but I'm sure that my grandson will not want for suitable soldiers and somewhere to use them in due course.

      I have put away a couple of shrink wrapped boxed sets that he won't get until he is at least a teenager.

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    3. Jim Duncan,

      It was your recent fort project that made me pose the question. I guessed that you might have already got plans in place for your grandson's wargaming future.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  11. Bob, there's nothing self-indulgent about it. Feeling sad at times like that is a much healthier reaction that trying to struggle on as if everything's ok. Giving yourself time and space to feel things is important.

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    1. Alastair,

      Feeling sad at a time of bereavement is one thing (and can actually be a good thing as it can help one to cope), but I was beginning to slip towards having too many morbid thoughts, and past experience told me that that is not a place that I want or need to go. If I go too far down that route I end up worrying too much about death and forget that life is about living and doing ... and that is a very negative place to be. Luckily - and with a bit of self-help and support from my wife - I am back to normal.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. Glad you had the support and the strength to get back on track and back to normal (whatever that is!!)

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    3. Glad you had the support and the strength to get back on track and back to normal (whatever that is!!)

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  12. Most people would find your experience overwhelming and I am sorry for your terrible losses. It is when depression drags on for months and even years that there is a real problem. In those cases being physically and mentally active are the treatments. Having a great hobby addresses the second.

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    1. James James,

      Thank you for your kind comment.

      Having been in a state where the depression dragged on and on, I know that physical and mental activity can be of great help, and I did find wargaming helped me to recover. In fact I knew that I was getting better when I was able to paint some figures without getting angry with myself when I made mistakes.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  13. Glad it passed. It seems to be the time of year for it.

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    1. Pat G,

      Thank you for your supportive comment.

      I had not thought about it until I read your comment and realised that you are right; the deaths of my friends and family do seem to be clustered around certain times of the year. I am sure that there must be some sort of explanation for it, but I don't think that I shall spend time trying to find it!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  14. Sorry to hear about the Black Dog, they wander into all our lives, best chase them away with a large broom, finding a distraction help. People have that strange tendency to be harder on themselves ...

    Thanks for the great chat at Connections UK, being in that plenary with you at the end was fantastic :)

    You have certainly given me a invigorated wargaming buzz thanks

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    1. Geordie an Exiled a FoG,

      I am feeling so much better today, and the Black Dog seems to have been banished ... at least for the foreseeable future.

      It was great to meet you at Connections UK, and I wish that we had been able to have a longer chat.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  15. Bob, all of us who have sunk into this space know how personal and awful it is, the worst feeling for me was the sense of letting myself and others down. It is an illness and no fun whatsoever . I truly admire your personal courage in sharing this, I spent a long time avoiding what was going in, as always, your posts are inspirational. Ken

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    1. Ken H (Ken),

      The thing that I have found is that anyone who has suffered from any form of mental illness understands how debilitating it can be, and how your irrational brain can make you feel guilty about being ill whilst your rational brain is telling you that you have nothing to feel guilty about.

      At least we share a hobby that enables us to take a break from the pressures of normal life, and that can help us to cope with our illness.

      All the best,

      Bob

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