“Black Dog”

I write this soon after the sad and untimely suicide in August 2014, of comedian actor Robbie Williams. He struggled with major depression and was attributed with the telling quote: “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.”  Loneliness can trigger depression and paradoxically, people in crowded cities often feel feel  more loneliness than those in small towns. It is also well known that suicide rates go up after the glitter of Christmas and New Year has faded. 

I had forgotten how easily it could be triggered… All was well, I was discussing a favourite topic, when unexpectedly, someone close to me, criticised, and cut me off in mid sentence. “Down I slide, down the slippery slopes of sadness, into the ever present chasm and the darkness below.” A moment of unkindness, a feeling of loneliness, or even no triggers at all, as when I awaken on a sunny morning, within the “the dark cloud.” I have over the years come to realise that external factors are not to blame. The cause arises totally within my own psyche. Fortunately the cure also lies there too.

I’ve had it intermittently, throughout my adult life. Usually I’ve coped, encouraged that it will eventually pass, and at times even “welcomed it as an old friend.” The passing of time has made it more difficult to “keep out the beast,” but fortunately my strategies for coping have improved. One thing I’ve tried to avoid, is pass this burden onto others. Not only is it unkind but I realised that projecting my misery onto others would only help perpetuate it within myself.

Throughout the ages depression has afflicted many, including those of of high stature; Ludwig Von Beethoven, Charles Dickens, Marlon Brando, Ernest Hemingway, Princess Diana, to name a few. Winston Churchill called it his “Black Dog.” (Interestingly in my case it has often manifested in a re-occurring nightmare, wherein I was persuaded by an amorphous black animal.  According  to the wife, I would wake up howling like a dog!:)


Depression has become a modern day epidemic, fortunately there are numerous strategies for living with, and curing depression.
Treatment Approaches include:
Cognitive Therapy: This shows much promise and is improving upon drug therapies and avoiding the drug side effects. More on Cognitive therapy and review of David Burns excellent book “Feeling Good – The New Mood Therapy” can be found HERE
Medication: Use of various anti-depressants such as Prozac, Venafaxine, Buspirone

On a lighter note take a look at:




Comments (4)

  1. Stephen J Vincent

    Depression is a state of mind not an illness. People do depression even though they don’t realise it. This is because the much more powerful subconscious mind runs all our lives 95% of the time based upon past programs we formulated up to age six and beyond.

    Those earlier past programs were often compounded by our beliefs and thoughts so that in our mind they are factual? This is often not true but in our minds it is. To get out of depression and never go back, it is necessary to discover what past events triggered them, accept them as being rooted in the past where they can no longer have meaning unless we choose to give it and then we can break that vicious cycle once and for all.

    This is along the lines of what my good friend Dr Robert Anthony teaches and his words are helping me to shift my life from victim to deliberate creator of how I want it to become. So for those people who suffer from depression, I say find out the root cause, and realise that past events can only keep hurting you if you allow them to while letting go of those feelings will release the need to do depression anymore.

    If this sounds oversimplified or insensitive that is not because I am but because it is the truth? We all have the choice to control our mind or let it control us? If we keep doing what we’ve always done we will keep getting the same results we don’t want. Change what we do in order to change the outcome even if that does cause a little anxiety because in the long run you will find true peace and lasting joy.


    Stephen & Jennifer.

  2. admin (Post author)

    Depression is not “an incurable illness” but as you say, rather, a “curable thought process.” I came to fully realise this after reading the book on Cognitive Therapy which I’ve reviewed. (From the link at the end of Depression Page.)

    I think many within it’s grasp still see no way out and continue to see those ‘Professionals’ who are too quick to dish out the ‘little pills.’ I know, my daughter was in that ‘trap’ for a while, but thankfully is now out of that downward spiral!

    As you say the key is the subconcious mind which seems never to be fully touched upon in the never ending supply of “self help” books on the shelves. People and these books have “missed the plot.” When they do not get at the root of the problem they’re soon onto yet another “answer to all their problems book.”

    I feel the key lies in various techniques that access the subconscious. Be it mysticism, meditation, hypnosis, dreams etc. I am currently training in Lucid Dreaming which is a fascinating subject in it’s own right, and have just added a page to the site. You can look at it here:

    Thanks for the comment. We must definitely keep in touch and compare notes!

  3. Lorna Allen

    Very informative article – I am very interested in Buddhist philosophy too and having suffered from depression in the past am aware of the complex issues involved. While changing our thought patterns is vital in controlling depressive thoughts, sometimes temporary medication can be invaluable at halting a spiral which has become out of control. The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt is my latest read and a wonderful exploration of the links between philosophy and ancient wisdom which I highly recommend!

    1. admin (Post author)

      I am increasingly satisfied I’ve taken the Buddhist Path. Not only for my own benefit, but also to help me relate too and hopefully help bring some sanity, in whatever small way, to this chaotic and greedy world.
      I am going to take a look at the book you recommended. Thanks for this and for visiting the site.

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