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Black Dog Blues – a story from a friend

Black Dog Blue

By Bernard Keogh

Over the last few weeks, at least five of my Facebook friends have admitted to entertaining the dread mongrel. He can eat your life if you let him.

My dad suffered terribly from this and I’ve been bitten myself.  I even traveled to Ireland to find out why, and I have spoken to several professionals about both his depression and my own. It was the chemical aspects that I didn’t understand. The pain was obvious.

Our bodies, since the days of the cave man… produce fight and flight chemicals, (ironically, the ‘alone’ chemicals, adrenaline, cortisol, nandrolone and others). These chemicals are burned off when we fight or take flight.  They are also toxic, cumulative and can affect the nervous system in a very bad way. But today, with all the stresses of modern life, the thing we DON’T do is take flight, or fight.  So these chemicals remain in our systems and slowly burn out the nerve endings and damage our entire nervous system. The early effects are skin problems, dry skin, dull spots, nervous tics and later things like shingles can develop as well. And shingles can be very dangerous, especially to the optic nerve. (So stop it, you could go blind!)

A big factor in recovery from depression is to eliminate those chemicals. We dont eat well when depressed and tend to sit around staring into space, watching that fag burn to a 2 inch ash coz you haven’t moved.. and you’re on your 15th cup of coffee for the day. And you don’t do the stuff you used to like… the music dies, literally, we don’t engage with others, we don’t talk about it coz it seems so bloody pathetic. The mongrel wins and eats well. And he doesn’t need sleep, he just needs you in his grip. Your GP gives you pills, but they turned me into a zombie, even at sub-clinical doses. Your Gp doesn’t know depression from a common cold.

One really good way to beat him is to get really physical. For me, I grabbed a shovel and shifted 30 tons of earth by hand and wheelbarrow. Worked till I was so tired I had to sleep well. Burned off those bloody chemicals. Lost weight, gained muscles. Found my way to the horses. Long story that bit, but the getting physical part was the start.  Eventually the music came back, and I started giving cheek to all and sundry again. Found new friends and eliminated the toxic characters in my life, ex included!
And I talked about it… to a professional.

She told me that depression was not an illness of the dull.  If you have any sensitivity and intelligence about you, it’s likely that you’ll get depression at some stage of your life. So take heart in that. You feel because you’re alive and intelligent. Depression is about our inability to handle things that hurt, beyond our control. The modern equivalent of the sabre toothed tiger is stress.  And in today’s world, the stresses easily get beyond our control. Give up the coffee, take up the shovel.

I’ll never hang up my shovel. Depression aftermath requires constant vigilance, and I do slip back from time to time. But those simple things have saved my life.

NOTE: If you feel you need help and someone to talk to, Contact:

Lifeline or chat to them Online
For 24/7 crisis support call Lifeline 13 11 14


Republished story from Dads Online Facebook page written by Bernard Keogh.


  1. Depression Treatment in Brisbane says:

    I have read this story Black Dog Blues. It’s very interesting story.