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Living with a Black Dog: His Name is Depression


Living with a Black Dog: His Name Is Depression is a book written by Matthew Johnstone, an artist, writer and exhibited photographer residing in Sydney, Australia. Matthew Johnstone was a depression sufferer himself coping with this disease for more than 20 years. The horror of 9/11 seems to have inspired him to sketch out the first draft of his book. At the time, the author was working for a New York ad-agency, and witnessing this tragic event initiated an avalanche of his thoughts and suggestions about how to manage and recover from depression. Living with a Black Dog is a slim volume written in simple text supported by cartoon-like illustrations capturing what it feels like to live with depression.

The book doesn’t have all the answers about depression, but it does show the strength to be found within and around us to fight this terrible disease. This book on depression is not for depression sufferers alone; anyone can see a glimpse of the world through the eyes of those who live with depression. Quick and to the point read, the book is both informative and humorous in explaining depression in a way that’s easy for people to understand. It could be taken as a guide for partners, family, friends and colleagues of depression sufferers because it depicts the symptoms of depression in a loved one wonderfully and the ways to offer them help and understanding.

More About the Book

Depression as a Black Dog

The metaphor of a Black Dog has been used for centuries to describe melancholy and depressed moods, and not only this; the symbol of a Black Dog has been associated to death, the devil, bad omen, legends, dream interpretations, etc. The phrase ‘Black Dog’ has been mistakenly attributed to Winston Churchill who often used the expression to describe his own struggle with depression and popularized the term. In Johnson’s book, depression takes the form of a Black Dog following the male character as a shadow wherever he goes and whatever he does, but when the character brings depression under control, the black dog is kept firmly on a leash. This point of you suggests you should have your depressing thoughts under control and mock your ‘friend’ whilst very much acknowledging his power. Not that in many dream interpretations, a black dog symbolizes the shadow aspect of a friend, a dark side of ‘someone close to you’ being revealed so that you can see their true intentions.

How Can You Benefit From Living With a Black Dog

Tips for Depression Sufferers:

  • You can recognize depression signs or symptoms
  • You can learn what to say and/or do in order to put your depression under control (for example, body exercise, seeking professional help, listen to what people say without judging them, etc).
  • You can understand depression better and learn how to fight it

Tips for Family Members and Friends of a Depression Sufferer:

  • You can learn what you should not say or do, such as saying ‘there is always someone worse off than you,’ ‘brighten up,’ or ‘snap out of it.’
  • You can learn how to relax and get support.
  • You can understand that it’s not the person you love who is barking, but the Black Dog in the shadow, sniffing in and around your loved one.

Book Reviews on Living with a Black Dog by Amazon Buyers

Both the first and the second edition of this book have been reviewed 16 times in the USA (15 five star ratings and one 4 star rating) and 61 times in the UK (51 five star ratings, 5 four star ratings, one 3 star rating, one 2 star rating, and three 1 star ratings). The edition sold in the UK bears the title I Had a Black Dog. See Diagram 1 for ratings.

5 star ratings of Living with a Black Dog

‘This is a beautiful book, worth owning for the author’s illustrations alone.’ (J. Cameron Smith, USA)

‘Ten dollars may seem $$$ for a ten minute read, but this is a profound little book that one can meditate upon for hours.’ (Sanuk, USA)

‘I adore this book! I’m suffering from depression, have been for a few years, and I find it difficult to express in words how I feel. These pictures really sum it up for me. It reminds me that I’m not alone, others feel the same too. I’ve been making my closest friends read this so they can see.’ (Keren ‘kc,’ UK)

‘What an incredible way to view depression…I will never look it the same way again…a must read for anyone who has been bitten, or knows someone, bitten by the black dog!!!’ (L.J.E, USA)

‘I wish I had found this book earlier. Instantly puts into images the feelings I have being suffering from and not able to describe myself. This book is so small and light-weight I can carry it anywhere, I find it an enormous help to read whenever the dark thoughts come.’ (Ian Walker, UK)
‘I didn’t think depression could be explained so well and with so few words and the help of pictures, but the book does it so much better than many 400 page books.’ (A reader, USA)

4 star ratings of Living with a Black Dog

‘I enjoyed the book, it can be read in a few minutes which makes it an ideal book to hand to people who don’t understand Depression. I found myself almost laughing in agreement with some of the pictures. I also find it mildly patronsing, in almost the ‘get a grip of yourself’ way, for me I’d want nothing more than to be able to do that.’ (Mark ‘Mark,’ UK)

3 star rating of the book is accompanied by positive reviews, while lower ratings are based on reviews describing the book as patronizing and lacking information.

Living with a Black Dog Book Cover

Photo source: Amazon.com

Read Matthew Johnstone’s Black Dog quote in this

Collection of Depression Quotes.

If you are interested in purchasing the book Living with a Black Dog: His Name is Depression, or taking a look inside before you decide whether you’d like it on your bookshelf, follow the link to Amazon.com from this page.

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