A lot of people who have depression or similar describe it as a black dog. They say it follows them, hampers their movements, gets in the way, weighs them down. It “barks” at odd hours, snarls, is vicious and makes you feel rotten and downright miserable.
My readers all know I have SAD, and at least over the worst of the winter, I have some symptoms that might characterize depression. So, was this my “black dog” I wondered?
But describing SAD as a black dog doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t characterize it properly. My SAD is more a sleepy fruit-eater than a snarly predator.
So I’d like to introduce everyone to my Brown Bear.
All summer long my brown bear plays. He relaxes and enjoys himself. He doesn’t need lots of warmth, just daylight. And so as the days shorten he tries to hibernate. All my bear wants to do is curl up in a ball and sleep.
Sometimes I feel like giving in to my brown bear and sleeping the winter away. But mostly I fight him. Sometimes he comes out of his warm, comfy hibernation with barely a grumble. Sometimes he gets upset and craves sleep all day. Sometimes he is grumpy as sin and takes a swipe at anyone who comes close.
SAD feels like you have to poke a hibernating bear with a stick every morning to wake him up. Sometimes he comes willingly out of slumber. Other times he growls and fights back. And on the fighting days I spend so much energy fighting the urge to hibernate that I don’t have energy for anything else. Its this lack of energy that looks and feels like classic depression.
But I don’t have a black dog. I have a sleepy brown bear and very soon he will wake and leave me alone. But for the moment I still have to wake him up each morning… now, anyone got a good long stick?