sit. stay. good boy.

I Have A Dog 22/07/2011

I have a dog.

Lots of people have dogs.  Most of them are called things like Spot, or King or “Here, Boy”.  They’re spotty Dalmatians, flat-faced Rotties, alert Alsatians,  perky Jack Russells, yappy little floor mops, podgy Pig dogs, loyal Labradors and trusty Heelers.  Or so we say.  Most of them are bitzers.  But the average household dog is loved.

My dog is a black dog.  He is with me everywhere I go.  I have what  is known as treatment resistant Depression.

My journey has been a strange one.  I find myself standing amidst two different worlds on a regular basis.  In one world I stand with my black dog, visiting a doctor.  In the other I stand with the doctors and other health workers trying to keep my dog out of the way while I see others who come to me, some trailing their own black dogs.  I am also a Mental Health worker.  In fact, I was a mental health worker before my black dog came to join me.  While I had been an empathic one before this, the shift in perspective gave a lot of insight to the way that I worked.

I will always be glad not to have been in the workforce at the point in my journey when my symptoms of depression became so severe that I couldn’t function.  It was a spectacular crash.  I was – it seemed – irretrievably tangled in this black dog’s unsecured lead to a point where I had tripped and was unable to get up again.  Mongrel dog.  As it was with a lot of time, hard work, patience and medication I was able to get untangled – but I’m stuck with the dog and the lead.

More time, more and more review and adjustments to medications by my Psychiatrist, a lot of work with a Clinical Psychologist, an excellent GP, a supportive supervisor and manager at work, a couple of great friends and a magnificently supportive family behind me and eight years later I have my black dog much better trained.

With a lot of time, effort, meds, bucks, sweat and tears I have trained my dog to walk at heel.  He does not run riot anymore.  He is not a puppy.  He is still a challenge and will always need a close eye.  There will always be times when he moves unexpectedly and I stumble on his lead or get pulled in a different direction.  There will always be places that are not as dog-friendly as others, even if it’s not deliberate.   When making plans I must plan not only for my needs, but for those of my dog.  They can be costly in all senses of the word.  They can be inconvenient.  They can seem impossible.

But if I plan for him, I can plan for me.  And I can do all manner of things.

He is not my pet.  He is my responsibility.  I am never without him.

He is my black dog.


13 Responses to “I Have A Dog”

  1. klsmyth Says:

    Loving your post and I’m glad to hear that by the sounds of it you have him well and truly house-broken! Accidents happen, there’ll always be that ‘I just couldn’t hold it any longer’ look on the dogs face, and the matching scowl on yours/ours. But hey, a mop or some paper towel and it’s all good. Dispose of the waste and go about your day! Awesome! Good to meet another dog owner.


  2. kickasswife Says:

    It sounds like you have had an epic battle! I am glad to read that you are able to take charge of it and not have it control you like it use to.

    My mom suffered from depression for a long time, I can’t imagine the struggle have gone through. I am proud of you….even though I don’t know you.


    • Thanks for your encouragement. The work to get here and stay here has not always been easy – but – oh! so worthwhile. There is more to learn on the journey ahead, but these days I have found pathways to joy that I had once thought impossible to find again – that makes the days less daunting than they once were.


  3. petrona Says:

    I too have a black dog. I feel your pain.

    One thing I have found helpful is tracking my mood. The tool I use is Moodscope ( but I know there are others out there. Have you tried this kind of mood tracking system? I must admit I do find it’s pretty useful for me, but different strokes for different folks I guess.

    Petrona x


    • Thanks Petrona,
      I use a mood diary from time to time although I must admit i’ve been slack lately. Using one in the seasonal weak spots is probably a good idea though. I’ll check out the moodscope too.



  4. zumpoems Says:

    Best wishes in your journey. Thanks for your unselfishness in posting these posts!


  5. Fiona Says:

    All I can say is WOW, what an amazing blog, and how come I havent found it sooner ! x


  6. LunaSunshine Says:

    I wanted to leave you a congrats! I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award!


    • Thanks Luna.
      Sorry I’ve been absent for a while. I’m getting ready to move. House, job, state – the works. It’s all a bit dizzying really, but long overdue. I’m getting a little mouldy where I am. I just wish I didn’t need to leave my house behind. I really like my house. It lets in lots of natuaral light.


      • LunaSunshine Says:

        No problem. I know what life changes are like, definitely dizzying and ripe with hitches. I can’t wait to hear about your new adventures! I hope you are doing well and taking care!


  7. Hannah Says:

    Hey… I just wanted to drop you a quick note to ask if you’d be willing to do a little guest post on my blog please – I want to set up a page with people’s stories of Mental Illness, to let others know that they’re not alone, and hopefully create a friendly place where people feel comfortable to share and support each other… Drop me a note on my blog if you’re interested, and I’ll send you my email address… Take Care xx


  8. 1sparrow Says:

    Hi. I just recently learned about Churchill’s black dog and here is your post by that name. You write so peacfully and naturally and I appreciate what you share. Scanning your posts, I noticed you mentioned seasonal dips. Perhaps you have already covered this, but I have found that severe seasonal allergies have a direct correlation to severe mood change. That certainly does not solve the whole black dog issue but it can help you be better prepared for some of the more harrowing slides downward…
    I look forward to more of your posts.


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