It’s time to speak out about the black dog

THE stigma surrounding mental health still exists and that needs to change, according to Doug Lang.

TIME TO STEP OUT: Doug Lang has battled depression his whole life and believes its time the stigma associated with it is eradicated.

TIME TO STEP OUT: Doug Lang has battled depression his whole life and believes its time the stigma associated with it is eradicated.

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It’s something he knows well, having battled from depression since the age of 10.

Mr Lang decided to share his story by writing a book and he also wanted to speak out in support of the Let’s Talk initiative.

“If you think someone is suffering, just ask them ‘are you OK or ‘what’s the problem’,” he said.

Mr Lang said until the stigma surrounding mental health was eradicated, many people would suffer in silence. The 67-year-old said he knew he was not well from a young age. He had disturbing thoughts. “I thought I was going crazy, I thought I was going nuts,” Mr Lang said.

His parents took him to see a psychiatrist in Geelong and he was diagnosed with depressive rumination.

He has experienced severe bouts of depression for most of his life.

One day many years ago Mr Lang spent some time with a mate planting trees on his block in the Otways.

“I really enjoyed that so I came home and started doing a similar project,” Mr Lang said.

He now runs a hobby farm with his wife Cheryl at Balintore near Colac.

Mr Lang said he believed nature helped with the management of his depression.

“I know how important the environment is to mental health,” he said.

Mr Lang said when the black dog bit, he felt trapped.

“It makes you feel so alone and isolated,” he said.

In an excerpt from his book, he describes feeling totally overwhelmed.

“It feels like my whole world has caved in, like someone has pulled the rug out from under my feet and I’m still scratching my head figuring out what happened and why.”

Mr Lang said his wife had been a tower of strength during some of his darkest days.

“Four years ago we lost a daughter too,” he said.

Their daughter Rebecca was only 27 when she died from a brain tumour.

The loss was one that led to a serious bout of depression for Mr Lang.

Again, he sought solace in nature.

“I find working with the environment helps with that grief,” he said.

Mr Lang said writing his book was therapeutic, but he knows his illness will be a life-long battle.

“I’ll never be over it, but I manage it well,” he said.

Mr Lang encouraged members of the community to step out and share their own story.

You can find out more about Mr Lang’s Facebook page Doug Lang – The Nature of Survival.

Are you willing to step out and share your story? Email mpatterson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Visit the Let’s Talk Facebook page to show your support here.