Winston Churchill suffered from a form of Manic Depression. It affected him throughout his life, and he thought of it as his ‘black dog’. Churchill wrote to his wife, Clementine in 1911, discussing a German doctor who may help him and he said this:
“I think this man might be useful to me – if my black dog returns. He seems quite away from me now – it is such a relief. All the colours come back into the picture.”
Others visualise their mental issues in their way, such as depression or anxiety is a small monster perched on their shoulder whispering fearful thoughts to them.
I have previously described my depression as a dementor inhabiting my mind, draining the happiness from my life and trying to push me over the edge to finally leave this party.
Each strike is a battle
Over the previous year, I examined how my mind behaves in response to my anxiety. Whilst my depression is a dementor, each strike of fear is a battle. A battle between who I want to be and what my anxiety wishes to turn me into – a hollowed, husk of myself.
I imagine it as traitors willing me to fail. They whisper in my mind, wanting me to be scared. Willing me to surrender my entire self to them. To never achieve anything. If they had their way, I would never write, fence, work, socialise or fall in love. I would give up.
I would believe everyone in my life was there either through pity or for their gain. The closet would be my home because I’d never be released from my terrors of rejection and disappointment. I’d still be praying to the non-existent God who hates me. My entire life would be the same as it was when I was fourteen. No progression out of self-repression.
Each strike of anxiety is a battle against those internal voices. That is why I visualise my anxiety as a civil war. The primary person being damaged in this was me. All sides are beating me into submission.
The only option I have is to fight back.
Some believe using the images of fighting, battling and waging war are negative and unhelpful. People might see it and just surrender themselves to the onslaught. I’d say it is a valid criticism of how I choose to visualise my anxiety.
I wish not to speak for others. I can only speak for myself on this matter and cannot tell you how to envision your mental struggle. If you visit Pinterest and search for anxiety or depression, you will discover hundreds of artistic representations created by sufferers. Each person has their way of dealing with their mental health issue.
I choose the image of civil war because it gives me hope that I can win and because my anxiety does feel like a constant battle. I want to win, and I will keep fighting. Every struggle that comes, I will use the strategies, techniques and tools available to win each one.
How do you imagine your mental health issue? Let me know. I’d love to hear it.