Black Dog

It snuck up on me.

At first, I brushed it off as fatigue caused by the time change. My body reacting to the weather being so wonky. 70 degrees on day and 19 degrees the next. I even checked the calendar, hoping maybe it was hormones, even though that isn’t a reliable scapegoat since I started menopause.

Yesterday, I had to finally admit it. The all over muscle aches, the inability to concentrate, not appreciating the blue skies and sunshine that heralded that Spring was definitely on the way. The way my leg kept jack hammering with anxiety. My appetite swinging from nothing to wanting to eat everything. Not being able to keep my eyes open at work but unable to keep them closed at night. Or worse, sleeping for 12 hours and still feeling exhausted.

The feelings of utter worthlessness. Worse, thinking you were the cause for everyone else’s failures. YOU let them down. You did. If you had done THIS then they would’ve had THAT. You are a loser, a waste of carbon, a bad mother/friend/employee/sister/wife/hack writer/general human being.

I knew I was in for a deep dark run when I opened the drawer on my nightstand, saw the loaded .357 magnum I keep in there and thought, “Maybe I should…”

I slammed the drawer shut and came to grips with it.

The Black Dog was back.

And this Bitch was big and very, very heavy.

I sat on the toilet and cried. I hadn’t felt this bleak in a long, long time. And suicide? Man, I hadn’t had those thoughts in over a decade. Hell, two decades.

Shit. This was going to be hard.

The first thing I did was go to bed. I forced myself to wait until 8 p.m. I promised myself that if I felt better in the morning, I’d go to work. We could always hope that my brain would suddenly start spurting out some sweet, sweet serotonin overnight.

My alarm went off at 4:50 a.m.

Fuck it. I told Alexa to set another alarm for 7:00 a.m. I’d write a quick email, telling my primary boss and all the auxillary bosses at the day job that I was taking a sick day. I wouldn’t go into the reason. I didn’t feel they needed to fucking know.

And went back to bed.

I forced myself out at 8:30.

Time to begin the Battle for Nik’s Brain.

Go to the gym, I told myself. Sweat it out. Get the wheels turning.

I went. I could barely work up enough energy to breathe hard much less break a sweat.

I gave up.

Went home, showered, put on clean(ish) clothes and Brian and I went to First Watch, a restaurant in Hendersonville.

We talked about stuff. I tried to put on the Face but it wasn’t working.

Brian said, “What we need is a lap dog.”

I said, “LET’S DO IT! Right now. Let’s go buy a dog. A little dog, like maybe a pug or something. I don’t want another big dog like Sage. Something small, we can baby.”

Brian said, “Don’t tempt me.”

I said, “I’m not joking.”

I Googled, “Animal Shelters near me” and found Sumner County Animal Shelter 2.8 miles away.

We ate and went straight over.

There was a large guy sitting behind the counter. Brian told him we were interested in a dog. He said, “We’ve got all the dogs out in the kennels out back since it’s so nice. But we’ve got two puppies available, if you’re interested.

“But I have to warn you: they are going to get big.”

My heart dropped. “What breed?”

“Pyrenees and Labrador Retriever mix.”

“Jesus! Those things are like horses! You could put a saddle on them.”

“Yep. Wanna see them?”

A few seconds later, Brian and I were looking down on two puppies, a brother and sister. The boy was all black and his fur was smooth as satin. His sister was black and white and furry as a teddy bear. It was obvious which one got the double dose of Pyrenees.

Shortly after that, we were in the visitation room. We met the boy. He was shy, very calm. Almost sleepy. Then they brought the girl. She was also shy but more amiable. I was sitting on the floor and she put her head in my lap and looked up at me with chocolate brown eyes.

“Don’t make me fall in love with you, dog.”

She wagged her tail and dropped her jaw in a sloppy, puppy grin.


“What would you name her?” asked Brian.

“Freya.” It was the first name that came to my mind.

“Okay. I’ll go see about adopting her.”

And that’s how we went shopping for a sort of pug kind of lap dog and ended up with what will be a giant.

Did it help my depression?

Frankly, it’s better. It really is. I can still feel the Black Dog circling, waiting to pounce but, it’s on the edges now.

I have a new black dog. One that was bred to guard and herd its flock. Maybe that’s what I needed.




1 thought on “Black Dog”

  1. That is almost identical to my story, Nikki. I found Moe and Curly. You found Freya.

    Thank the universe for puppies when you need them the most! And the “push” to find them.



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