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I Had a Black Dog: His Name Was Depression
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I Had a Black Dog: His Name Was Depression

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  1,251 ratings  ·  129 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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Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
"If you find yourself going through hell, keep going."
~ Winston Churchill

A well illustrated and insightful book about the 'Black Dog' [Depression]. It is very well pointed out that one's 'Black Dog' is something that is happening to oneself rather than the 'real self'. This, for sure, helps to think about depression in a constructive manner.

As the author mentions, it is required to 'let out' the Black Dog as often as possible. It may not be possible to let go of depression, but we need to reali
Mar 30, 2016 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
Dave Schaafsma
Black Dog has come to be a metaphor to many people for Depression. There are many myths about a black dog that visits before death. Neil Gaiman wrote one.

I wanted to read this but the only copy I could get here is in Polish, so I had to get each line translated. That is commitment, right? But in the process of doing this, I found the book translated in a YouTube video, narrated by the author, so you can have it read to you here. Millions of people have seen it, sponsored by the World Health Orga
Dave Schaafsma
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gn-psych, gn-memoir
Czarny Pies is Polish for Black Dog, which has come to mean for many people Depression.

I wanted to read this but it was written in Polish, so I had to get each line translated. That is commitment, right? But in the process I found it translated in a YouTube video, narrated by the author, so you can have it read to you here:

It's a memoir comic (though it looks like a smallish picture book or illustrated book) that elegantly depicts various relations Matthe
Dannii Elle
If you know someone or have suffered yourself with some form of mental health, then you need to read this book. It is incredibly short and has probably less than 200 words in the whole thing. And yet it perfectly encapsulates what life with depression is really like. This is poignant and hard-hitting but a necessary read. I identified with it so much and the mixture of text and illustration helped me to truly visualize my own demons.

There is a Youtube video to go along with the book, and it can
Literary Ames
Winston Churchill's black dog euphemism for depression is given form by author and illustrator Matthew Johnstone. He skillfully reveals his personal navigation through 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 accessi
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Clearly and simply presented, Johnstone shares his experience of depression (his "Black Dog") with dignity, self-awareness and, most importantly, self-acceptance. His illustrations allow him to convey the melancholy enervation of depression using relatively few words, but still communicating a deep empathy. It's a book that takes just a few minutes to deliver its powerful, humane message.

Highly recommended if you're struggling to articulate your own experience - it should help others who don't e
Hanna Fawcett
Sep 15, 2011 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
Jan 16, 2015 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
Jul 06, 2015 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. ...more
Edgarr Alien Pooh
"This is a very very short book and you can read the whole thing in minutes. You may say I am adding to make sure I reach my challenge for 2016 but it is much more than that.

This morning I reviewed Jon Ronson's 'So You've Been Publicly Shamed', a book about shaming on the internet. In my review I took a small tangent into the world of online trolls and how they may effect people, one of whom was an Australian television presenter named Charlotte Dawson. As I said at the end of my review I had ne
Kris Worsley
Jul 21, 2011 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
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: miscallenous
Heraclitus said that War is the Father of All things. He was right in more ways than one. Winston Churchill coined the phrase "black dog" ; I came across it in one of my history books.

If things that you used to enjoy become meaningless... decide whether your interest is not dependent upon the approval of others.... It usually is not. You own it!

If you feel like sitting at home pitiful, sad and alone.... go to the gym or have a conversation.

Two life strategies I've applied from this book. Now
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: english-reads
A super powerful and accurate visualisation of depression and its side effects, definitely recommended for anyone having trouble understanding what this illness is all about and how it truly feels like.
Sep 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, non-fiction
This is very accessible and yet very effective. Simple drawings and descriptions, but they show how depressions feels from the inside. It might give outsiders a glimpse into the states and feelings of the sickness and insiders might see that they are not alone with these states and feelings. I still prefer the second volume adressed to the ones who live with a depressed person. There is more practical advice in it and I find it more useful to start a conversation about the sickness. Nevertheless ...more
May 21, 2009 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. ...more
Sep 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
May 22, 2014 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!
Looking back, Black Dog had been in and out
of my life since my early twenties.

Whenever he made an appearance, I felt empty
and life just seemed to slow down.

The Black Dog has affected so many of us at one stage or another and currently is quite involved in my daily life. This simple, yet incredibly effective, graphic novel com self help book explains how it affects me in such a simple way and accessible way.

Matthew Johnstone has created something here that will allow anyone with a Black Do
This is a short book depicting depression in a visual way. I can image it could be a good starting point for those suffering with depressing to see that they are not alone or for those who have friends with depressions to start getting an understanding of what their friend is going through. A well put together book.
Jun 07, 2022 rated it liked it
I was at the local library when I spotted this in the mental health awareness section. It's a short picture book walking you through the effect that depression has had on the author's life. I thought it was nice and simple and the illustrations went well with the text. :) ...more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent and very accessable exploration of the metaphor.
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: a-comic
Highly recommended to teach your kids about depression
Jamie Scott
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really helpful analogy of what it’s like to move through life with depression.
My Mum recommended this book to me after a discussion about depression, and I'm so glad she did. The book thoroughly describes how I feel when I'm depressed, and although I've never suffered from extremely long periods of depression, they've been long enough to be able to see myself in this book. ...more
Feb 05, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Resourceful and informative.
Must be in high school and college curriculum.
Kellen Foord
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Lovely little story about depression in the shape of a black dog. If you suffer from depression it is an uplifting read and if you are lucky enough not to suffer from depression, I still recommend reading it, as it gives a very realistic and helpful insight in to what it feels like to have to live with a 'black dog'. Remember it's okay to talk about your black dog, don't feel like you have to deal with him by yourself! ...more
Remy Sharp
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully illustrated and communicated. Some particular pages rang more than true for me and it's useful and helps to see the way others articulate their own depression.

With such a simple read, I'll be passing this on to my family members to read so that they have a little more insight into what goes on inside my own head.
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very simple concept for a very difficult subject.

This book tackles and visualises depression and how difficult it is to live on a daily basis dragging the 'black dog' around with you. Great for passing on to (gently, not shoving it in the face of) a loved one who you may suspect or know is suffering with this terrible illness. It is for everyone,even for those who don't read books because of it's colourful, fun drawings and few but poignant words.
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2016
Depression comes in different strengths, but even a mild occasional type can be distressing, and a lot of the difficulty with depression is the effort to hide it. To carry on regardless. To explain the unexplainable. But this little picture book does explain.

But the library seem to have assumed that this is a kids story and I saw parents taking it home with their child. Hmm
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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. ...more

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