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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 ·  962 ratings  ·  101 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 ...more
Paperback, 48 pages
Published 2007 by Constable & Robinson (first published August 1st 2005)
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Average rating 4.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  962 ratings  ·  101 reviews


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Caroline
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 dog...as 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
...more
David 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
...more
David 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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6_8e...

It's a memoir comic (though it looks like a smallish picture book or illustrated book) that elegantly depicts various relations
...more
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
...more
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
...more
Michael
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
...more
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
...more
Andrew Greatbatch
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.
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 ...more
Dimitri
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
...more
Peacegal
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
...more
Souad
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.
Swaroop
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
...more
Francesca
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.
Keren
Sep 09, 2009 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.
Evangeline
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!
Gemma
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.
Karen
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent and very accessable exploration of the metaphor.
Lnpt
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: a-comic
Highly recommended to teach your kids about depression
Discoverylover
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.
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.
Mandy
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
Kathryn Bedford
Dec 01, 2012 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.
Claire-Rose
Feb 10, 2016 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.
Brendan
Dec 20, 2012 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.
Aaron Harvey
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-events
"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
...more
forestseelies
This book was a quick read because there is barely any writing, but I decided to read this because it was in my library and I was interested. This book is about depression ( which I wasn’t expecting ) and how it affects the author. This was a great read if you want to know more about the ways depression is shown through literature. It’s not jam packed full of information and is so easy to read. I recommend!
♡Luce♡
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Yes yes yes yes yes
this is the shit I Like.
It's increadbly difficult to put your own feelings of depression and what it means to you into words, however Matthew does that so well.
moreover I really enjoyed how he showed that depression not only didn't just go away but also how difficult it is to manage it. unlike the normal self help book where it tells you to just meditate and do some yoga then you'll be fine.
Bayan Ashoor
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
" Doing anything or going anywhere with the black dog required super human strength "
This book describes depression in a way that left me with no more words to describe it . I don't think I will ever come across a book that will describe depression and how a patient deal with in this depth accurately , clearly and simply .
Highly recommended.
Dylan The Pickled Puppy
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent little book, Mathew Johnstone nails what it's like to have depression without being too depressing. Whilst reading I found myself nodding and saying "yup that's it, that's what it's like" and to get that into so little pages is a feat. Highly recommend.
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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.