Wednesday, 19 December 2012

A black dog story

Many years ago a long-term relationship I was in at the time broke down. The house we had been buying together was sold, and we went our separate ways. About a year later, perhaps rather foolishly, I went back to look at the house, and it was in the process of being demolished. The site was due to be cleared, along with others in the street, for the building of flats. The roof was gone and internally the house had been gutted. All that remained was an empty shell. It looked just as if a bomb had hit it.

Suddenly, out of a gaping hole that had previously been our front door, an immaculate white cat emerged. It was like the ghost of all the much-loved cats (four) which had previously shared the house with us. For a while that cat came to symbolise for me a period of mental distress that I had gone through at the time.

But for many, it is the black dog of depression which follows them through periods of their lives. At the end of the Mental Health First Aid course which I attended in 2009, I was given a short book called “I had a black dog” by Matthew Johnstone. It is a beautifully illustrated picture book, which, as Stephen Fry comments: “… says with wit, insight, economy and complete understanding what other books take 300 pages to say. Brilliant and indispensable.” There is a link to it here.

But also, I find (thanks to my colleague Glynis), there is a short video, uploaded recently, about this black dog. We decided to share it here:

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