The Charlie Bravo Story

The Black Dog

Have you ever felt like you’re running from your calling?

Dad here; when Charlie and I first met and she began to blog, we were determined that this would be a refuge from the constant negativity on the web. As the years have passed, we have unfortunately encountered unpleasant situations that needed sharing among the familial units, the loss of Stevie, Max, Bull Taco, the loss of my job, the decline of my dad, the death of Darling Nikki from cancer, the whole colostomy ordeal, and so on.

I like to think that the success of this page is due to our attempts at full disclosure; no matter how uncomfortable the subject, you can always find something to laugh about, at least when viewing the issue in the rear view mirrors. So if I am so willing to share embarrassing stories that involve pooping on my feet, why am I so unwilling to address the elephant in the room, the problem that probably unites us as much as any other, as it affects us all at one time or another?

Depression.

Winston Churchill described his depression during WWII as his “black dog”; this is one reason that I have been very unwilling to address the problem here, as Charlie is the very antithesis of the word, and I didn’t want her story sullied by the stigma that society still subconsciously puts on any issue involving issues of the mind. She has never given the slightest indication of any such problem, but sometimes I wonder what it going on behind those eyes, things that, like most of us, we keep hidden at all costs.

Consider Robin Williams; a consummate actor, a manic performer, no doubt feeling that he was on a mission to uplift and entertain but probably sometimes also feeling like a puppet frantically dancing on a string, or a monkey trotted out to cavort for pennies to the tune being churned by the organ grinder. To the world, he looked like the epitome of happiness, but his final performance tragically involved him hanging from the end of his own belt.

Who can relate? Maybe not this instant, but at some time in your life? We like to mask our symptoms with other monikers, I’m in a funk, I’m feeling down, etc, but we all know how quickly it can advance from a tiny puppy to a snarling dog, and the black dog of depression is one animal who’s bite is much worse that its bark.

I have it made; a beautiful wife, a modest house overran with demanding critters, thousands of family members like you around the world from whom I draw strength and support, but sometimes the black dog comes sniffing. Suddenly the comforts that I enjoy are as a mouthful of ashes, clogging up the words that I sometimes feel like I was placed on this earth to share.

I recently saw a outlaw country singer, Whitey Morgan and the Smoking 78’s, who was obviously dealing with some demons of his own, to the point that he was making his band members uncomfortable with his comments between his songs. One that hit me so hard that I immediately whipped out my phone to make sure that I remembered it correctly:

“I’m in this period of self-loathing so intense that I don’t want to speak, as I know that I’m exposing myself to you”

That comment meant more to me than all the great lyrics and hot licks pouring from his Telecaster guitar, as it demonstrate that he was willing to put himself “out there”.

So where do we go from here? I have no answers, but I do know that one of the primary triggers of depression is loneliness, when you wake up at 3 AM with grinding thoughts of despair while the rest of the world appears to be sleeping happily away while you’re twisting and sweating under the covers. “This is NOT fair!!!”, our minds silently scream, “I thought these people cared! How can they NOT know what I’m going through?” My answer to you is that we are all in this together and we DO know, and will be discussing possible solutions here from time to time. Not to make the entire focus of the page about depression, far from it, but to at least acknowledge that sometimes we all feel that life has “sucked us dry”, and that we all can gain strength and support from one another, brought together as family by the unlikely story of a ragged black dog.

But in the beginning, one of the things that showed me that there was something much larger at play than just the story of an abandoned dog was when my phone buzzed in the wee hours of the morning; it was a follower of the page that was texting me that Charlie’s post had just helped her through a PTSD episode. Whoa, I thought; this is for real. And it has happened many times since; you would think that this might be annoying, but you would be wrong. It shows me that we are making a difference, and isn’t that ultimately what we all want? To know that we all matter?

I have no answers, but do know that the world is sometimes a better place just knowing that people like you are in it, and the darkest hours of the night are always just before dawn. And the sun ALWAYS rises, as inexorably as a woman giving birth; it cannot be stopped, and when the pain and bloodshed passes, a new life is the result.

You all matter, and you all make a difference…

We be of one blood, ye and I.

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