July 15, 2009

The black dogs

Churchill referred to his depression as his black dogs. It's a wonderful expression. Dogs follow you. They want to be with you even when you are tired of their company. They are familiar, and comforting, and warm. They come when no one else will.
And they pass wind at the most annoying times.
I've been battling my own black dogs of late. Although they are familiar and friendly, they do shed all over my life and I find myself with mouthsful of hair and the inability to swallow or speak. They seem to grow or shrink as my life goes, right or wrong.
About a month ago, they were very large. They curled up with me at bedtime, crowding me out of slumber, breathing doggie breath over my dreams, making it almost impossible to breathe. I spoke to my dog handlers then, asking for help. Some gave useful advice. Some ignored the huge behemoths sitting beside me. Eventually, life unstopped and the forward motion kept them running to catch up with me. They'd been lying about a long time.
But eventually they caught up, and it seems no amount of persuasion will shoo them away.
Perhaps they grow on the weight of my bad decisions, or the fatigue associated with MS, or the endless, creeping, subclinical pain that makes movement hard and joy harder.
Right now they are curled in the corner of the room, watching me. I throw them a treat now and then and they catch it in their jaws, swallowing rapidly so they can watch me with that curious doglike vigor. I don't want them any closer, so today I am running again, sorting, packing, cleaning, preparing. Perhaps the activity will wear them out and they'll sleep.

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