Make sure to walk your dog

Published 10:19 pm Tuesday, September 25, 2018

By Nathan Rice

The dog that is depression doesn’t like to travel. It has always seemed that one goal of the “dog” of depression is to tie you to your house, keeping you away from the things you once loved.

It’s hard to describe to those who have never battled this condition, but depression can rob you of the desire to participate in the world around you. It is a strange feeling to know that life is going on all around you, including many good things that once grabbed your attention or provided enjoyment, but having little to no desire to join in with the activities of life.

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I’ve been there at times during my 22-year long battle with depression, and I can understand when those who fight this same battle say they do not feel like doing anything. It can be hard to participate in things when tears are forming in your eyes and the pain of the dog’s attack is crushing you from the inside out.

I’ve learned, however, that I must not allow depression to keep me from living my life. There are things to do, and I refuse to allow the attacks from this dog to keep me from participating in life. I wish I could say that going out always makes things better, but there are times the pain does not cease. I’ve cried at Harbor Park, wept through the entire second intermission at an Admirals game and hidden tears at Hub 757 while a band I enjoy performed a great show.

There have been times when I have enjoyed an outing, event or show even though I was still dealing with an attack of depression. In a manner similar to physical pain, a fun outing or event isn’t always fully destroyed because of pain. It is possible to enjoy a game while fighting the dog of depression.

Going out and living life doesn’t always make depression go away, but I have found it helpful in fighting back. Home may feel comforting, but isolating yourself from the world around you often just adds to the problem. While it sounds cliché, fresh air can be helpful. A little sun can make a big difference. Human interaction, even if it’s a stadium full of strangers, can be therapeutic.

The dog of depression wants nothing more than to have you alone, focused solely on him and with nothing else to think about but the lies he has whispered in your ear. Refuse to give him that opportunity! Continue to live your life even when it seems like nothing will bring relief and you feel as if there is no point in continuing. Own the dog instead of letting the dog own you.

Take the dog for a walk in your neighborhood, drag him to Harbor Park, or go catch a show at Chrysler Hall. There may be some times when a little space is needed in order to heal, and that is OK. But taking a moment to heal often turns into continued isolation and a spiral that is hard to stop. Put the dog on a leash and let him know that he doesn’t control you. Live your life.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number is 800-273-8255.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at