Depression – “Shoot the Damn Dog”

I picked this book up for the first time last September and started reading. I was hooked but after a few chapters had to give up as it was to raw and close to the bone at that time. However last month I felt the strength to pick it up again and off I went into the depths of this book and the emotions of Sally.

“Shoot the Damn Dog – A memoir of depression” was written by Sally Brampton who ten years ago was struck down with depression, not just low mood but serious clincal depression for which she landed in a psychiatric hospital. The book is a diary almost of her experiences and her emotions.

Last night I was lucky enough to bag one of the last tickets to go and see Sally Brampton at Woking library talk to a group of around 50 of us about her depression and others including her mother and daughters (in their family its genetic) questions were asked, a few tears shed, people disagreeing, it was a throughly interesting night. I had taken my Dad with me. Possibly not the obvious choice as its my Mum who supports me most in my depression but that was exactly why I had taken Dad. I have always found Dad cant deal with my depression so I hoped it might helped him get an insight into my mind.

When I read Sallys Book the more pages I turned the more made sense. At my darkest times I struggle to put into words what I’m feeling. At night the only way I can describe it is imagine 40 radio stations playing all at once, now try and hone in on just one of those. Try and grab the thoughts from just one? You cant can you. Theres all this noise (the thoughts) but none of them make sense or can be grabbed and put to use to think about specifically. If you catch a thought its gone befoer you know it and your onto something else.

Sallys words described for me so many feeligns I have in my mind. Hearing her speak last night and her view that depression is an illness and it can be lifelong and just goes through phases is exactly how I am. I do recover sometimes and at others I can feel the depression coming on again, theres nothing I can do about it but ride the wave. Sally has now been diagnosed as Bipolar 2 and is on lithium, something I have discussed with my psychiatrist myself as my symptons are much the same however she also suspects labels such as ADD and BPD may be attached to me but she still needs to get to know me more.

I came out of the talk last night and Dad said to me “Did you enjoy that?” and my answer was yes but I went more because I wanted you to hear what depression was like from someone successful and inspiring as I felt you may listen then. This led to a bit of a heart to heart which I wont share but I think it did benefit him going and I hope next time when my depression is at its worst he will understand a bit better, understand why I cant even leave the sofa, or move from the bed, why I havent got dressed and havent made him a cup of tea, why the only functioning I am doing is for my son.

This week although manic has seen my depression relatively ok. I managed to pick up the phone tuesday and make a call to the community care team about making my appointment with my newly appointed CPN, admittedly I sat staring at the phone for half an hour but at least I did it in the end!

Finally I would just like to say that anyone who experiences depression, cares for someone with depression, has friends with depression or maybe knows of no one and has no experience of it … give Shoot the damn dog a try. It will help you understand a bit better what goes on in the mind of a depressive.

Sally now does talks like she did last night on depression around the country as well as writing for the Sunday Times. 

I found Sally an exceptionally inspiring woman and her attitude to depression was heart warming, to hear someone speak about it so frankly and with similar views to myself was absolutely wonderful, if she ever speaks anywhere near you, please do try and see her. Inspirational woman.



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