Saturday, 27 August 2016

Black Dog


I was afraid this would happen. For years and years, at the bottom of all my busy-ness, my drive for change and thirst for adventures, was this fundamental fear.
I knew that someday the black dog would catch up to me.
That despite all my grand plans and sometimes-successful executions, I'd have to sit down and be still and open the door and let Depression move in with me for a while.
Clinical Depression, a mental illness, has been a part of my life since about age 10. It comes and goes every few years. I've gotten to know its modus operandi. It comes on very slowly. I can delay it for a good long time -- I am a "high-performing depressive," after all. I fend it off with projects, commitments, do-gooding, achieving.
I knew it was coming last year, when I still felt bright and able. I decided to write the book then, while I was sharp and energetic, before it was too late. I wrote "Holy Year," and co-wrote "San Anton: A Little History." I re-wrote them, I found an illustrator for the latter, a designer, a way to print them and get them here to Spain. (Now I need to market these boys!)


I didn't feel any great elation at my creative achievements. I was glad to get them finished in time.
I moved about. I walked from Samos to Santiago with George, I walked from Santo Domingo de Silos to Burgos with Laurie, I walked from Ferrol to Santiago with Jim. I went with Patrick to England, to a garden party at the mill-house where Keats wrote "The Eve of St. Agnes." These were excellent things to do. I wondered as I did them, why I was there. That is symptomatic.
Things I love to do stop being fun.  
The Camino Chaplaincy ran long and hard this year on the Meseta. I met and worked together with some fine ministers, and some pilgrims really did benefit. But my own private greedy reason ran along under it all: the Mass keeps the darkness away, keeps my spirits in the right place, reminds me to forgive, be forgiven, to trust God no matter what.
Because I also took the new book, the best thing I ever wrote, and I pulled every string I had dangling, and sent it out to all my shiniest prospects for agency and publishing. Some made encouraging noises. I sent it out also to people I had no connection with, people whose history showed they like this sort of thing. I talked with smart people, connected-up people, sharp people. I let myself hope. I trusted in the story, I trusted God. I trust God.
But I am out of energy, and interest, and ideas now.
None of the prospects is taking my calls or emails any more.
I try to ignore that, try to get on with other, more pressing things. Patrick had a medical emergency, a detached retina in his eye, which required emergency surgery. Once that was under control, he developed bronchitis. The doctors don't want to be bothered with "just a cough."
Last week, at the fiesta, I stopped being president of the Asociacion.
Two days ago in Burgos we dropped-off the last of the chaplaincy priests for this season.
Albergue Monasterio San Anton de Castrojeriz closes for the season at the end of September.
Likewise, Albergue Villa de Grado closes at the end of October.
I will be left alone with much less to do, with winter coming on.
There's still plenty here to keep me busy. But not occupied.
So now you know I really am not such a great saint. I do a lot of my doing just as a way to keep myself from falling into a funk.
But here it is, and here I am.
I will sit still for a little while, entertain the Black Dog, and hope he does not stay around too long.



18 comments:

Ingrid said...

((((💖💖💖)))) holding space. ..whilst you can't. Light and Love.

The Solitary Walker said...

I know that Black Dog too, and I sympathise. I'm aware from things you've hinted occasionally that you are prone. Life can be a bugger. As well as a sublime joy. But sometimes the balance tips downwards, and no one can help it. Stay strong. Thinking of you.

The Solitary Walker said...

PS Saints are much overrated - so tedious!

The Solitary Walker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ines Jewell said...

This too will pass, as it clearly has done before. That's why you are the strong person you are. It's seasonal.

Martea Cashion said...

My sweet Sister...my heart is there with you. I'm embracing you from very far away.

Filipe said...

Rebs, i read your words with a striking feeling of recognition. I have been walking the black dog back and forth for a while now, only I never really cared to understand the symptoms. I do so hope this part of your journey will be brief. You are a very brave woman and soon enough you will be the one biting that bloody black dog.

DougF said...

I am so sorry to hear this.

Margaret Butterworth said...

Have you thought about taking up knitting? This is not a frivolous suggestion. It is calming and relaxing, and it engages your mind with something creative.

Patrick Glenn said...

Go day by day and keep blogging when you can. One good prospect is so many people are waiting to read about your life. I must have searched for your next post 20 times in the last 5 weeks. That is pretty cool when perfect strangers are longing to read your words. Good thoughts for you and Patrick from Houston. Texas

Margaret Butterworth said...

Regarding publishing your books:
I have just bought "CaminoVoices" by Iain Dryden. This was self published, I think, with help from:
ypdbooks.com ("Home of Independent Published Books".

There are so many people waiting to hear about your adventures, readers of your blog and of the Camino Forum. You would have no trouble selling it! I know that things are easier fir authors if they are taken on by a real publishing house, but needs must! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

You are not alone, you are greatly appreciated, this will pass.... I have emailed you
Steven

Ps Consider crowd funding the publishing including the Camino forums , I agree with Margaret, people want to hear your voice...

Gumbo Limbo Tropical said...

I am concerned about this black dog development. Hard runners are dead runners. Try not to do so many things at a time. Concentrate on what is essential for you. Remember that others can do what you do and delegate. They'll do it differently from you but possibly better.
Take care - Fraluchi

HeidiL said...

You are in my thoughts. I hope you will be able to re-home the black dog!

EileenHamer said...

I'd like to say something wise and meaningful but words fail me today. Just know you have many, many friends thinking of you and sending all good thoughts and prayers your way. This sorrow, too, shall pass.

Warren Sly said...

Each year since 60 I have walked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Partly to see if I can. partly to come eyeball to eyeball with eternity. The VERY BIG TIMELINE perpetuated in 1,600,000,000 year old stone. Scrutinizing all those zeroes makes the question of where I fit in laughable. And bearable. Our puny struggles for identity and relevance seem more know-able will I come back to our human-scale. So know in your heart that you have made a difference and are much loved.

Margaret Butterworth said...

Back to my knitting suggestion:
Go to this website for many ideas and tutorials:

Verypink.com

Dael said...

I have, like you have walked with the Black Dug. During my recent walk through France I checked in at what proved to be the campsite from hell. Sufficient to say it proved to be a party site. What sleep I got was hard won. When I crawled from my tent in dawns half light I found a supermarket receipt attached to my tent door by a clothes peg. On it, in English, was written a short message from a French former Pilgrim wishing me well on my journey. Even in the worst of times we are never truly alone, many who have carried the shell are watching over us and are there to lend quiet support.