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Putting our Black Dog on a leash

Last week I started talking about the Black Dog in our marriage – the depression that my beloved (MB) has suffered from for many years, and the impact of living with it. How do we learn to put our Black Dog on a leash?

Putting our Black Dog on a leash

Putting our Black Dog on a leash

Or – to put it another way – what happens when you are not depressed anymore, and how do you move forward?

As MB came out of his most recent spell, he found himself in a limbo state of not being depressed – he has concurred that sometimes he chose this as his identity – but also not knowing who he was, what he could do, and what was next.

In my experience of being alongside others with depression, I have seen this pattern before. There is a divide between living in a depressed state, and living as a person who understands and is content with who they are

and is secure in that new identity.

But getting across that gap on your own is too much.

Overwhelming.

Daunting.

And very scary.

So what to do? How could I use my skills and my role as MB’s other half to help him across that divide?

Whatever I came up with, it needed to be

  • manageable in a busy working schedule
  • have the potential for a small achievement each time but without an overwhelming sense of failure if that step or that day was hard
  • provide some pattern and structure
  • be easy to do
  • be practical and forward looking
  • provide gentle but realistic encouragement
  • and ultimately form lots of little stepping stones across that divide into a new identity.

And so The 10 Things Challenge was created.

The 10 Things Challenge is a tool that I have written that can change the way you see yourself and your future in 30 simple steps.

It was written for MB to give him a gentle, practical, structured way to gain greater understanding of who he is, what he can do, how to care for himself and learn to see himself in a new, more positive light.

It is recognised that gratitude, exercise, caring for yourself, being more outward looking, simplifying life, time and discipline all help in putting the Black Dog on a leash and moving forward into better health (as outlined in this wonderful WHO video about the Black Dog, and this one about living with someone who is depressed).

Now MB knew all that, but putting it all into practice, whilst doing a very busy and often demanding job, was too overwhelming, so nothing much would change. But providing the external motivation that is part of The 10 Things Challenge, coupled with it’s simplicity and practical aspects, seemed to enable him to start to take those small steps towards a better outlook.

The 10 Things Challenge is a way to create a much greater end product of self awareness, self confidence and future direction that is significantly bigger than the sum of it’s individual parts.

It was written for someone moving on after a period of depression. But this is by no means it’s only focus. It is a tool that allows whoever is doing it to gain greater self awareness, clarity on future goals and direction, more confidence and fulfillment in life whatever their life stage. It certainly is not a tool to treat depression.

It is simply a practical response to a need that was right there in front of me. But as I wrote and developed it, I started to see it’s potential as a forward looking coaching tool.

Next week I will introduce you to The 10 Things Challenge, and the experiences of others who have completed it. For MB and me, it has been a way of putting our Black Dog on a leash and stepping gradually into life of greater communication, understanding and freedom. What might it do for you?

Inspired? Encouraged? Get in touch!

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