Dog days, black dogs and sitting on thistles

I can’t promise to get back into blogging in the same way as before, but my absence does bear an explanation.  It is a case of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’.  Oftentimes you have to take a few steps backwards before you can start to move forward again.

A journey of self-realisation can be a long one, and all the time you are trying to fulfill the expectations of others while trying to understand who you are and how you fit in.  You have a job that seems to be everything you aspire to and a boss that everyone reveres, but it feels as if you are swimming in a current that you fight no matter what direction you chose to turn. You’re a fighter, not one who can sit still.  Your response to stress is ‘a change is a good as a rest’ so blogging fills your evenings as a way to switch off after pressured days.

After a while the demands of work pile on more; add to that the pressures of the economic downturn. You take on more, you blog less. You start to understand the currents that challenge you, but putting it right means persuading the boss of change.  An open door means ‘come in and talk’  but it does not mean the incumbent will listen.  You can see the current taking the whole ship to the rocks while the captain talks of bigger engines.  Everyone is in overdrive. Exhaustion sets in. Some vote with their feet, but you carry on.  You know you have too much on your plate, but you can’t stop and by now, in your depleted state, change is too much effort. You are like a dog that is howling because it is sitting on a thistle but doesn’t have the will to move.

One day you realise that you can’t carry the thread of something you are reading over a page turn. It happens more and more. Fear. How can you keep doing your job? You want out but can’t afford to walk away.  Alternative opportunities are not happening. Lack of contract renewal looms. A black dog sits at the door. He’s been there for ages, but you didn’t realise what he was.

That was two and half years ago.

Once you notice the black dog and he won’t leave, some chemical help seems the only option.  One type results in difficulties with sleep and an alternative one does the opposite. You cope.  A year wrapped in insulation.  People explain problems and you just look at them.  You suggest solutions but empathy is a face you wear because it is expected.

Eventually you feel strong enough to step out of the bubble. You know recovery will continue slowly but by now you have the strength to face normal again. Months pass, so far so good.  The captain decides to leave. OK.

Now the shipping company decides to ground the ship – she’s outlived her usefulness. A week of sleepless nights. You’re in crisis mode but feel very alive as you lead meetings and continue to meet deadlines. You’ve no choice but to keep going. You’re not the captain, but someone needs to be at the con.

As vacation time looms and you give in to relaxation and exhaustion, the black dog bites at your heels again. This time it is different. You think you can chase him away, but there are times doubt sets in.

2014-08-31 13.59.35The dog days of summer are a happy time, but still he prowls. You tell yourself things are getting better, it’ll take time.

One day, swimming, you imagine turning out into the ocean and swimming on until you slip beneath the waves.  But your child is with you.  You imagine coming back at dawn, leaving your clothes on the beach, but you know you wouldn’t do that.  A few days later, leaving the office late, you imagine what blood, your blood, would look like on the carpet.  These thoughts shock you. Will he ever leave?

Things change. Plans change.  You start to be able to look ahead again. Two weeks later he’s gone. Poof! Just like that!

The ship is placed in dry dock for a refit. You start to build a new crew. You realise that all you learned on your journey – your understanding of the currents – is now valued.  It’s still a long way back.

You meet your old captain and you want to say “it wasn’t me it was you”, but, for all that, you know it was you too. You can stand back from yourself and see that you allowed yourself to be pushed well beyond your limits. You did it willingly.

Your life now is like standing before a jigsaw puzzle where two-thirds of the pieces are missing.  You can still see what it portrays – the essential parts are there, but the rich detail is missing.  You have to decide how much of it you restore. That little bit in the bottom left corner was rich in detail but required a lot of effort.  Maybe you can work with a lower resolution, or perhaps a simpler picture composition.

You do more, plan more, achieve more. Your days speed up. You can complete something and look at the clock to find it is still an hour to lunchtime. You have time to look out the window and notice the clouds while you speak on the phone. Weekends belong to your family again. Wonderful.

“Leisure” by W. H. Davies:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can,
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

This entry was posted in Personal and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Dog days, black dogs and sitting on thistles

  1. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Dangbetcha … glad to see you again, best wishes,


  2. edcaryl says:

    Welcome back.

  3. Verity Jones says:

    Thanks both! Now if I want to keep writing, even once a week, I need some inspiration.

  4. It is great to hear from you again. Much to ponder here!

    As one of your faithful fans I wish you every success.

  5. catweazle666 says:

    Nice to see you back Verity!

  6. PeterMG says:

    Pleased to see you back Verity, I’ve just today had one of those days that that chimes with your post. I decided some time ago that the greasy pole was not for me in this particular organisation so hope to avoid the same end path. I to wish you all the best in the future.

    Because we have hither to had more time here to ponder upon our replies reply and enter adult discussion here are some subjects you could contemplate for inspiration.

    Owen Patterson MP has made 2 speeches recently, one from the Global Warming Policy Foundation on energy and one just recently from Business for Britain about the EU. He was sacked by David Cameron to make way for “a balancing of the gender’s” in Cabinet which has disastrously for Cameron let a genie out of the box free to speak their mind. Many of the things we have discussed in one way or another are in these speeches and worthy of more consideration.

    Next is something I have pointed out in the past, but not being much of a wordsmith often don’t get the point across. Many of the climate blogs have suddenly found themselves at a crossroads. If we take WUWT as an example they in conjunction with say Steve McIntyre of Climate audit and indeed many others spent their formative years pouring over real data and openly and honestly deconstructing it to show the world how data was being manipulated to tell a particular story. WUWT had the brilliant surface stations audit. Today the case is made, no one disputes it. Perhaps the best at now showing us the absurdity of Data manipulation these days is/was Steven Goddard aka Tony Heller. But to remain relevant as a climate blog or science blog they eventually need/must to get around to discussing radiative forcing and “greenhouse gases” and the “greenhouse effect” (I hate those 2 terms) and that means listening to ALL the discussion. Or they choose to introduce the political aspect which I feel is just as important as the science if not more so. How well have these blogs coped?

    Hope there is some inspiration in that lot

  7. Verity Jones says:

    Thank you all for the kind words. It’s good to be back and nice to find writing here easier than it used to be.

    I wanted to write something about my experiences because depression is still misunderstood by those who have not experienced it and there is still a stigma attached to it. It is also a warning to others because I did not realise what was happening.
    In the late ’80s and early ’90s I had two brief, fairly mild episodes of a few months, each time reacting to something that had happened. I felt unhappy. The symptoms were emotional, not physical. Each time I did all the right things to get through it and I did. I would say this is the sort of thing many people experience, for example due to bereavement, and it passes.
    This time the slide was a slow, gradual one and I wasn’t sad, unhappy or pessimistic at all. I had no idea I was suffering from depression until I found myself thinking what is termed ‘suicidal thoughts’ (which is, I suppose a useful distinction for someone who can’t actually imagine ever, really, going though with such a thing). This was a bit of a wake up call that sent me to look up symptoms (I had many) and to make a doctor’s appointment.

    @PeterMG Thanks for the suggestions. The biggest hurdle now is probably the lack of reading and research as I’ve only just been keeping abreast of developments. Will ponder your ideas.

  8. Peter Azlac says:

    Hi Verity

    Like the others it is good to have you back, you have been missed in this debate and seeing where it and the UK are headed I am not surprised you have had a visit from the Black Dog.

    As to what to discuss I think that Tim Ball in his much maligned articles has put his finger on it. Most sceptical blogs have, as Peter MG pointed, out concentrated on deconstructing the data except in most cases it is not the data – it is some model of the real data and as William Briggs, and others have pointed out that is not the same thing, especially after dubious statistical methods have been applied to it. Sceptics should have concentrated on the raw data and the absence from most GCMs, and indeed climate research, of the more important variables, such as the impact of solar activity in the stratosphere on surface pressure, hence distribution of heat coming out of the oceans by convection, or the impact of lunar cycles on the movement of the heat from the Southern Ocean to the Arctic with an 18 year lag followed by a 13 year period to move around the Arctic Ocean. Many of these aspects of climate science have now belatedly been picked up by the warmist scientists, like Trenberth, in their 60 odd excuses for the current lack of significant change in global temperature – whatever that means!
    No, what Tim Ball has pointed out is that the whole of the CAGW meme is but a diversion whilst the politicos, NGO, bankers and others – see membership of Club of Rome – attempt to lead the World into a UN lead totalitarian State under the guise of Agenda 21. Any doubts about this can be seen from the way they have interpreted the ‘science’ in the AR5 and their ignoring the UN report on extreme weather to lead us into an Orwellian State where black is white and lies are truth. We need a blog that questions the ‘science’ behind the sustainability meme – and there are many areas that need attention outside of the renewable energy fiasco. For example the switch to biodiesel that not only destroys forests but has lead to a major deterioration air quality in cities with increased incidence of lung cancer from particulate carbon and asthma from NOX and this situation is getting worse with large diesel units being set up to backup unreliable wind and solar and the increased use of wood pellets in heating and power generation. On the science the only blogs I now find of real interest are HockeySchitck, CO2Science and TallblokesTalkshop with occasional inputs from others like Climate Etc, Climate Audit, William Briggs, Lucia and The Chiefio that offer serious papers and comment whereas WUWT that has become the equivalent of a popular the Sun newspaper! Whatever you decide you need a strict moderation policy that rejects comments that are not pertinent to the discussion – of the 1000 odd comments at WUWT on Tim Ball’s paper very few where relevant with most showing they had either not read the paper, were lacking in skills of comprehension or were warmists who object to any rational statement sin this area.

    • Verity Jones says:


      Sceptics should have concentrated on the raw data

      Certainly, however – several points:
      1. It can be very challenging to know what is really raw data.
      2. You simply get rock tossing because you’ve used raw data.
      3. Some adjustments have merit (e.g. TOBS) although they often make only very small differences
      4. In comparing raw data you’re not comparing apples and apples (there’s the odd rotten one in the barrel, so you end up making subjective judgements and adjusting the data set that way too.

      Believe me – I’ve been down that rabbit warren and it is so easy to get lost. You end up feeling as if you are going mad.

      Lags – turning out to be very important.

      Sadly, I have to agree with you re WUWT. I miss intelligent conversations with regulars over an evening or Saturday. Yes, comments need to be real time (no moderation) but zero-tolerance for non-relevance (post-moderation).

  9. Another Ian says:


    Welcome back! And some points to ponder (particularly the first point) from a Chiefio post

    BTW, the Pacific ocean has an 18 year lag in temperature patterns from equator to pole. (Presentation in Chicago a few years back), so the north edge of the Pacific ought to be reflecting about 1996 right now, with 1998 pattern at about 2/18ths of the way from N.pole to equator. No surprise it is warm. In a couple of more years it will follow the rest of the ocean to cooler. And no, averaging temperatures of equator to pole will NOT give a good result. See above about intrinsic properties…)

    One final point: How is it that all that regularly added heat suddenly decides to run off into the oceans? Just now? Why didn’t it happen in the prior 50 years? Simply put, it didn’t. Both land and sea warmed in a natural cycle of about 60 years duration. The land turned cold first and fastest. The oceans lag with the longest lag being to the N. Pacific at 18 years. Otherwise you must explain why the land is now quite frozen, storing NO heat from the last 100 years, and it all got wadded up into the North Pacific… That’s a quite unphysical result that requires a quite unphysical process. What is it?”

    And is this extra to Bob Tisdale’s take on el Nino etc?

  10. Another Ian says:


    The Black Dog has been around here too – raging drought and problems arising from same over a lot of rural Australia.

    But not on that subject – I also noticed some references in another Chiefio thread.

    Not as risqué, but you probably recall the modified biblical studies verses with the chorus of

    “Old soaks, young soaks, everybody come

    To our little Sunday school and have a tot of rum

    Park your toffee apples and sit down upon the floor

    And we’ll tell you bible stories like you’ve never heard before”?

    Now, with all the Climategate etc material available it should be possible to do similar with the climate science scene.

    A chorus might go like

    “Old folks, young folks, everybody come

    To our monster climate school and we’ll give you the drum

    Grab your cup of cool aid and sit down upon the floor

    And we’ll tell you climate stories like you’ve never heard before”

    With all the material available (and crowd sourcing) this might end up bigger than The Illiad.

  11. John F. Hultquist says:

    Hi. A couple of years ago your posts became infrequent and then my computer needed replaced and I found a couple of other interesting sites to read. You became lost in the mist. Today there is a link on Jo Nova’s site to your current post. So here I am.
    [Mother-in-law was bipolar except then we called it manic depressive disorder. Treatment involved lithium. So no 1st person experience but as close as I want to get.]

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    The very best to you in this Christmas Season.

    • Verity Jones says:

      And to you John. Great to have you here again.

      I have recovered well. It was a result of chronic exhaustion, and the funny thing is that I remained generally quite positive a lot of the time and the depression was quite physical. That is to say I would want to do things but somehow find myself unable to translate the thought ‘must do X’ into actual physical movement, such are the biochemical effects – lack of sufficient neurotransmitters or whatever. It has made me very sympathetic to others that suffer, it is not easy.

Comments are closed.