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I Had a Black Dog: His Name Was Depression

4.37  ·  Rating Details  ·  491 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
There are many different breeds of Black Dog affecting millions of people from all walks of life. The Black Dog is an equal opportunity mongrel. It was Winston Churchill who popularized the phrase Black Dog to describe the bouts of depression he experienced for much of his life. Matthew Johnstone, a sufferer himself, has written and illustrated this moving and uplifting in ...more
Paperback, 48 pages
Published 2007 by Constable & Robinson (first published August 1st 2005)
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Mar 30, 2016 Caroline rated it it was amazing
To be honest, I got this book from my library's biography section - initially I just thought it was some sort of graphic biography, but the title does of course refer to Churchill's black he called his bouts of depression.

In fact the whole book is about the experience of depression. But, before you turn away - it is the most user-friendly (and surprisingly delightful) book that I have ever seen on the subject. Whether you are an outsider who's had friends who have suffered with depressi
Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}
Winston Churchill's black dog euphemism for depression is given form by author and illustrator Matthew Johnstone. He skillfully reveals his personal navigationthrough the seven hells of depression to the light at the end of the very long tunnel. As Churchill once said, "if you're going through hell, keep going." Johnstone sought treatment, told his family and friends and learned how to control the dreaded beast so he could finally enjoy life again.

While I do believe this picture book is accessib
Hanna Fawcett
Sep 15, 2011 Hanna Fawcett rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
After wading unsuccessfully through self-help books, I came across a few good reviews of this book and decided to give it a try.

I've never really understood why depression is referred to as the 'black dog' as it seems to give the impression that it is something entirely seperate from yourself. Although this might be the opinion of an observer, it can feel almost impossible to distinguish between the illness and your own personality when in the depths of depression.

Despite this, I absolutely lov
Darth Andrew
Jul 06, 2015 Darth Andrew rated it it was amazing
This is probably the best visualisation of depression I've seen. It makes it easy for people who don't understand the illness to understand.
Kris Worsley
Jul 21, 2011 Kris Worsley rated it it was amazing
A brilliant book of cartoons, joined together in a narrative to tell the story of the author's battle with depression. For such a simple, short book, it was so very telling, moving, and incredibly perceptive. It really proves that it's possible to say something important with so little words, as long as the author has the ability to absolutely put their finger on what they want to say. This author is able to do that, and the images, together with their accompanying captions, are exquisite in the ...more
Feb 08, 2016 Peacegal rated it really liked it
Winston Churchill famously compared his depression to a black dog. (Which is, if you think about it, rather unfair to black dogs.) This simple, illustrated book talks about one of the most common mental illnesses in a way that will be instantly familiar to those who suffer from it and will be a very basic primer for those who do not.

The illustration choices were quite clever, such as the man who sees everything through black dog-shaped glasses and the idea that each sufferer has his or her own u
Sep 15, 2009 Keren rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: depressed people, people living with depressed people
I try and get people to read this, its so short it shouldn't come across as an imposition, and its cartoons convey things that are so hard to put into words. I pass it to people who are depressed so that they realise that others feel this way too, they are not alone, and I pass it to people who I want to understand where I am coming from.
May 22, 2014 Evangeline rated it it was amazing
This book says as much about depression in 200 words as other books take 200+ pages to say. A must-read for anyone who may come across depression, so everyone! It should be made available to everyone by being stocked in all libraries, especially school libraries. It would even be a great addition to the school curriculum!
Feb 11, 2016 Claire-Rose rated it really liked it
I just cried my way through this book. A very accurate visualisation of what it feels like to suffer with depression.
Jun 30, 2009 Francesca rated it it was amazing
This may be one of the shortest books I've ever read, but it's also probably one of the most important. The things that I just haven't been able to put into words are expressed perfectly here and, for the first time, I feel that others, family and friends for example, could grasp it if they read the book too. Importantly, the book has made me feel that it may be possible to take control of the Black Dog. Brilliant book-everyone should read it.
Kathryn Bedford
Dec 01, 2012 Kathryn Bedford rated it it was amazing
While suffering from severe depression I had doctors recomend several books to me that might help, this was better than all of them. Short and simple so that it can be easily grasped even when your brain doesn't seem to be working properly.
Feb 17, 2014 Sharlene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like how it uses Black Dog to describe depression. The way it's written is good, not condescending or 'dumbed down' but uses simple language to describe all the dark and down feelings and situations. Its very real.
Jan 05, 2013 Alice rated it it was amazing
This book articulates how I feel a lot of the time really well. If you love someone with depression, read this book. Currently 99p on kindle
Dec 20, 2012 Brendan rated it it was amazing
Probably the most important book I've ever read in my life. Should be compulsory for everyone to read this.
Aug 05, 2011 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
For what this is, this is utterly brilliant! Simple, comprehensive, and easy to relate to!
If you cannot find the book itself, you can watch this book on YouTube, courtesy of the World Health Organization:

In my first read through, I missed the mark pretty bad for how I should read the book. Expecting some grand dog metaphor for depression, it all seemed forced. Using square peg/round hole logic, I was confused because the words and pictures were not realistic canine behavior. Additionally, I couldn't understand why a dog would be used to repres
Jun 11, 2015 Damir rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those curious about depression.
Summary: In an effort to bring what former Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the "Black Dog” to light, author Matthew Johnstone tells the story of his battle with depression through a series of illustrations.

Positives: The purpose behind writing this book is admirable, the author clearly wants to help people understand depression through the eyes of those with the disorder and give sufferers hope.

Johnstones' description of depression is extremely accessible and enjoyable, even for those
Jul 03, 2011 Td rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone aged 1 - 120
Shelves: instant-classic

Winston Churchill popularised the phrase 'the Black Dog', although it had been round for many years before. In a way a black dog, hunting by moonless night in a blackened wood is quite possibly the best metaphor for depression. It hunts silently, stealthily, approaching its victim unseen and unnoticed until it's too late. No one is immune from it - actors, politicians, homeless people, emergency personnel, middle class families, children, the Strong, the weak, etc.

But in between clever e
Emma Blackwell
Feb 07, 2015 Emma Blackwell rated it it was amazing
Brilliant! Simple and straightforward and made so much sense for someone like me who has never suffered from depression. I bought it because my daughter does, and I wanted something that would help both of us - me to understand what she is going through, and also for her to realise that she is not alone and all her feelings and symptoms are normal. Highly recommended!
Brenda Coughlan
Apr 30, 2013 Brenda Coughlan rated it really liked it
“I had a black dog” is an insightful book allowing readers to understand the difficulties of living with depression. The phrase ‘Black Dog’ (as coined by Winston Churchill), provides a moving account of what life is like for those suffering from the illness. It highlights how lonely and isolating it can be for people and gives a condensed but realistic impression of the reality of living with depression.
This book would be a nice tool in P.H.S.E, Religion or circle time to help children understa
May 30, 2016 Katie rated it really liked it
This is a great book and one of the few I've read that makes it easier to understand and grasp what it's like for people with depression.
It is written so simply! It uses a simple metaphor that allows the reader to visual the illness.
The book describes the "symptoms" of depression - comparing the illness to having a "black dog" following you, sticking to you and making your day-to-day existence difficult.
It goes through some major problems that people who suffer with depression have and why. It
Initially NO
Nov 08, 2015 Initially NO rated it did not like it
Just propaganda for white-coats. The plain folks technique. It's a pamphlet, not a book. Utter rubbish. Makes me depressed just thinking about Pan MacMillan putting their publishing stamp of approval to this 'see your doctor' advertise. Why would a reputable publisher touch it and tarnish their name? Ugh.
Ana Luisa
Apr 15, 2016 Ana Luisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: 21st-century, 2016
This was a tiny little book full of pictures representing what it feels like to have depression. It outlines the most common feelings associated with the condition in a very informative and practical way. I really enjoyed it for its message, and the pictures were great to go along with the text.
Alan Wilkinson
Feb 24, 2014 Alan Wilkinson rated it it was amazing
An easy to read, well presented book to help anyone who has suffered or is suffering with depression to understand the beast! Also helpful for those around those with depression to understand what people go through and their thought patterns... A must read!
Jul 31, 2014 Edel rated it it was amazing
I recommend this to anyone who has suffered with depression, is currently suffering with it or knows someone who is. Informative, and at the back of the book there is addresses to websites that help those who need support with this illness.
May 11, 2016 Chloe rated it really liked it
Such a great way of showing how depression can effect someone, in a way which is easy to understand and comprehend, by using simple language rather than jargon, as well as the use of illustrations.
Fiona R
Jul 21, 2016 Fiona R rated it it was amazing
(For Young Adults)

The most accurate illustration of what depression feels like that I have come across. A must for teens and adults alike who are struggling through their days.
Dec 16, 2014 Marcus rated it it was amazing
This book was short and straight to the point, would highly recommend to anyone suffering with or knows anyone with depression.
Mar 11, 2013 Gabi rated it it was amazing
It is a very insightful way at looking at depression; it looks at depression as something detached from self which sometimes allows for those suffering to remove themselves one step away from their condition. Allows the reader to face head on their issues and provides a simple image of what it feels to live with this problem. Whereas it does state that depression is something that will continue to stay with the person; it can be controlled and there is light at the end of the tunnel for everyone ...more
Jun 25, 2016 Ruth rated it it was amazing
Brilliant! Highly recommended for anyone suffering from depression
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Matthew Johnstone is a passionate mental health and wellbeing advocate. He's an author, illustrator, photographer, public speaker and is also the creative director at the Black Dog Institute. He lives in Sydney Australia with his wife and two daughters.
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