Living with a Black Dog – Matthew and Ainsley Johnstone


Published March 1st 2009 by Constable & Robinson (first published April 1st 2006)
Full title: Living with a Black Dog: How to take care of someone with depression while looking after yourself
Authors: Matthew and Ainsley Johnstone
Genre: Mental health/health, self-help, non-fiction
Pages: 77
Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Opening line:

“When Matthew initially said, ‘I have depression’, I really had no idea what that meant.”

Goodreads synopsis:

Written for those who care for those suffering from depression – friends, family members, colleagues, and even therapists, this book offers a portrait of life with depression. It speaks directly to the carer and offers practical tips on helping the depression sufferer.

My review

I don’t have depression. I’m not in a relationship with anyone who has depression, and the kind of life that this book aims to help with is not the kind of life I have.

But that isn’t to say that one day I will find myself seeking the type of advice and information presented in this book. Mostly, I’m reading it to broaden my insights into mental health, and literature about mental health.

I have known people in the past who have depression, and I’ve had no clue what to say to them or how to behave around them. It’s hard for me to pinpoint, but this book does a good job of literally illustrating how the person with depression may be acting, and what you can do to help them.

It tells you what not to say, and what you can say or do when they are in a difficult situation. Since this book was first published, there’s a lot more awareness around mental health, and a lot more people being open about having depression.

Yet, there is still stigma, there will still be people who don’t understand, and there will still be families and friendships struggling due to problems caused by depression. Not by the person with depression, but by the way they are feeling and how this affects them.

Anyone who finds themselves needing help or advice on living with someone with depression, then this book should be your first port of call. It spells it out for you, it shows you in visual images, and it tells you in few but meaningful words exactly what you need to know.

And what’s great is that it’s been thoroughly researched and written by a couple who are going through what the book talks about. For me, this makes me trust it.

At the back of the book are places to go for help, suggested reading and helpful websites. This book looks out for anyone who knows someone with depression, and pays attention to how depression can affect carers. It is well worth having a copy on your shelf.

Link to the book on Goodreads: Living with a Black Dog

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