If depression is the black dog, then anxiety is the vulture – a foreboding presence constantly circling overhead. A vulture is the perfect metaphor for my anxiety because vultures poop on their own legs* and that’s exactly what I fear will happen whenever I have an anxiety attack – thanks a lot IBS! Did you know that when faced with an adversary, a vulture will just vomit and fly away?* That sounds familiar too.
Pictured: Lappet-faced vulture (Torgos tracheliotos)*
I’ve always found it difficult to relate to the black dog metaphor because I had a gorgeous black dog named Tara when I was young and she brought nothing but joy, unconditional love and comfort to my life. Black dogs run in my family – both the fluffy and the psychological kind. I mean, who can be sad while looking at those faces?
While vultures are kind of like the a-holes of the animal world who only prey on the wounded or dying, they also keep the environment clean and prevent the spread of diseases by feeding off the carcasses*. I’m learning to appreciate that having anxiety has played a big part in forming the person I am today and has been a driving force behind my life’s biggest achievements.
When I’m feeling OK, it can also help to find the humour in anxiety. We have some slightly ridiculous coping mechanisms when we’re anxious and our absurd thought processes would be comical if they weren’t so terrifying at the time.
Pictured: King vulture (Sarcoramphus papa).*
I often get the anxiety/depression two-for-one combo deal and my black dog and vulture like to tag team and keep me guessing who will show up each time I have a relapse. When my vulture starts squawking or my black dog starts barking, it helps to understand that they can serve an important purpose, and more importantly, both animals can be tamed.
Everyone’s vulture-taming toolkit will be different. This blog is in mine.
*Today’s images and lesson on vultures have been brought to you by Annamiticus.com