Catriona Futter – Equip For Life Coaching Becoming your best self and living life to the full – 07713 974138

Our Black Dog. Or Living alongside Depression.

We have a large black dog in our marriage.

Our Black Dog

Emotions and lack of in living with our Black Dog

For more than two decades, this Black Dog has played a role in our lives and impacted on our relationship, communication and emotional well being. My beloved – or MB for short – has suffered from depression for a large chunk of his adult life. And I have lived alongside him and his depression – his Black Dog – struggling to get to grips with how to do this well and maintain my own sanity.

Sometimes, the Black Dog has been right bang in the middle of our lives, with not much room for anything else. MB’s depression has been the dominant force, hugely affecting us both. Him – trapped, bleak, hopeless, emotionally numb. Me – lonely, isolated, frustrated, torn between loving support and angry resentment about the impact this illness has.

Seeing MB so distant, unavailable, unable to enjoy or enter into much of life, still functioning but going through the motions and with little energy left for anything other than self-preservation. And battling my own feelings of being cheated of the engaging, funny, creative and inspiring man that I know is in there somewhere.

There have been other prolonged periods when the Black Dog has made himself pretty scarce, and there has been more freedom, hope, communication, enjoyment and optimism. And these have been times of learning and self-growth for us both. We have sought to understand the origins of this Black Dog, or at least diminish it’s power to return forcibly to our lives, and to break negative cycles of communication that inevitably we fall into when things are bad.

I have never experienced prolonged depression as an illness. And therefore I have no insight into what it is to live in that dark place. The closest I ever came to having a glimpse of understanding was a short spell of bleak low mood as a result of a traumatic life event. MB came home from work and I was under the duvet not wanting to come out (unheard of for me during the day).

“I feel like I’m in a black box with a heavy lid and I can’t get out, I can’t lift the lid to get out.”

He looked at me and very gently and simply said:

“That’s what it feels like to be depressed.”

This occurred well over a decade ago, yet I have never forgotten that, or how I felt – quite stunned at the horror of living in that oppressive black box and that being your norm. I am by nature quite a practical, problem solving enthusiastic optimist who can generally talk or work my way through a challenge or difficult situation and come out the other side.

So this very brief experience of not being able to get myself out of this black box was shocking to me.

Now I know that there are lots of different types and facets of depression, and I can only speak of my own, very personal experience of our particular breed of Black Dog. What I say here is simply that – my own reflections. I cannot speak to the experience of others, whose depression has taken different forms and degrees of severity.

And so to MB. We seemed to live in a cyclical pattern based on the varying dominance of the Black Dog, but didn’t seem able to take more than a sticking plaster approach to addressing surface level issues.

How to break that cycle?

Being the practical fix-it sort of person that I am, what use could I be to him to help him move beyond depression?

How could I use my skills and experience to help him put his Black Dog on a leash? That’s where we will go next week.

For an incredibly helpful short video about the Black Dog and it’s impact, watch this WHO video of the book ‘I had a Black Dog’ by Matthew Johnstone.



5 Thoughts on “Our Black Dog. Or Living alongside Depression.

  1. God bless you, Catriona. Just looked at your website & the approaches you’re taking. Looks excellent.
    I retired from CRM 12 months ago after returning to Melbourne 3.5 years ago.
    Still doing just a little coaching but mainly now investing in our 8 grandkids.
    Warm regards,
    Ian (& Verlie)

    • Catriona Futter on March 29, 2016 at 11:17 am said:

      Thank you for that lovely encouragement. Glad you like the site, and do keep visiting, and send anyone my way who you think would benefit, especially from the 10 Things Challenge. Enjoy your grandchildren – what a blessing! And love from us both.

  2. Pingback: Lessons from Depression Part 2: Talk about it. - Catriona Futter - Equip For Life Coaching

  3. Pingback: Lessons from depression Part 1. Or, how have we tamed the Black Dog. - Catriona Futter - Equip For Life Coaching

  4. Pingback: Introducing The 10 Things Challenge

Inspired? Encouraged? Get in touch!

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: