The Black Dog.

by Lori Dwyer on August 18, 2010 · 44 comments

Nothing humorous here today folks. Sorry. This one’s part of the UnFunny Files, and it’s been sitting in my drafts folder for a while, as the extremely personal posts sometimes do. I did consider guest posting it out, but my own blog feels like the right place for it. Normal programing resumes tomorrow, OK? OK.  The artwork featured is by Katrina Miller.


I have a black dog.

I’m not alone in that, I know. There are many of us, with our own black dogs. Sometimes they come to heel; sometimes they stray far behind us, following our scent. And sometimes, when God is in his Heaven and all is right with the world, my black dog, he stays, tied up, in his kennel.

Just recently, the black dog got out. And, I’m sad to say, he was savage, destructive and caused damage to both people and property. This is no playful puppy, slobbering on slippers and teething on toys. This is a cur, a mongrel, who nips and sometimes mauls the people that I love.

It’s a fraught and pensive thing, the way depression can suck the color from the world, the air from your lungs, the sparkle from your laugh. The crushing weight of a panic attack, of being alone, is a wholly debilitating thing. Impossible to conjure. Almost impossible to imagine, until you are on the very brink of it, teeth chattering, breath teetering from rapid to smooth, as the world closes in and all you can think is how sad it all is, how much pain the entire world is in; how on earth does anyone stand it?

I remember, once, a long time ago, studying at university. A young woman, no older than 20, who had evidently never suffered any form of clinical depression. Presenting to us that, as social workers, we should be instructing people to “Open their curtains, appreciate the beautiful weather!” and to “Remember that tomorrow is a brand new day!”

I recall shifting in my seat. Uncomfortable. Slapped. Patronised. Condescended to. Could she not see, this young woman with her curly hair and her pretty shoes, that she had just hit on the very source of the problem?

When the black dog is loose, tomorrow is a brand new day. Another fucking brand new day. Another fucking day.

The dog, he settles next to you on your pillow. As soon as you wake, he’s all you can smell.

This time, in the crux of the matter- I refuse. I refuse to let the dog take me down. I am 28 years old. I have raged and fought both with and against this black dog for 15 years. I’ve not once been admitted to hospital.

And this will not be the time it happens. Not when I have babies to care for. Not when they need their mummy, here at home.

So I refuse. If I go down, it will be clutching my medication in one hand and the phone number of my psychiatrist in the other. It will be punching and screaming, kicking that dog in his big black head.

I refuse.

And, in the end, I win. The dog, he whimpers, tail between his legs.

This time, I win. But the black dog, he’s a stubborn mutt.

He will lick his wounds. So will I.

And I will tell myself, for the next time he is turned loose.I will be ready.

I say that every time.

I’m never sure if it’s true.

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzy June 15, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Lori, I cant tell you how glad I am to have found you. I am in awe of your honesty, and your ability to put your thoughts out there, even when they’re not pretty ones. Or funny ones. Me, I just say nothing – I stop writing until I can see the funny side (of anything) then I pretend it’s all good stuff- everything is fine. Compared to your life it actually is & I refuse to complain to you. I have been holding my breath for a long while but I still have my husband. I made him read your post ‘ better off without you” today because of what he said to me an hour before. That shut him up all right. So thank you for that also.
You are wonderful & you are helping so many people, so many families :0)


Lori Dwyer June 16, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Thank you Suzy xxxx
Lori Dwyer recently posted…Vagina Shaming.My Profile


Marianna Annadanna March 18, 2011 at 1:49 pm

I know if anyone can rise above, it's you. Inspiring and beautiful.


Bronnie and family October 29, 2010 at 1:51 am

I know the black dog. He/she visits me regularly, often when I least expect it. I keep the dog at bay, by taking my meds, talking to professionals, getting exercise, forcing to get out and do stuff rather than just shut the curtains, turn off the phone, and get back into bed with the dog. It's just so damn hard sometimes. But I'm starting to tame the doggie now, and keep him if not away, at a safe distance. (BTW, I never actually liked the idea of the 'black dog', only because I love all dogs, and I don't love my depression/anxiety.)


Ashleigh September 28, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Such an inspirational, powerful post. You've described it so clearly, especially the bit about tomorrow. When my black dog is out I sure don't want a tomorrow. I keep hoping he's in his kennel to stay, but he doesn't always stay there. I'll learn to keep there though. Thank-you Lori.


Kelly September 12, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Awww, sweetie, I have a black dog too. And I've learnt that acceptance is strength. xx


Lauren September 12, 2010 at 9:07 am

I keep a pet dragon to kill any black dogs around my place. It's called Moclobemide.


The NDM (of ‘Not Drowning, Mothering’) September 9, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Great, powerful post, Lori. I think you should take this out of the 'STUFF I DON'T THINK YOU WANT TO READ ANYWAY' files and put it under 'STUFF EVERYONE REALLY SHOULD READ'.


misssy m September 2, 2010 at 9:17 pm

I never blog about my depression but I always appreciate it when others do because it makes me feel less alone in it. That's a terribly selfish admission but I'm just not brave enough to do it. Last week my doc said that i could stay on my meds for as long as I wanted. I could have hugged her. I am terrified of slipping back into it.

I think the fear of the Black Dog is the worst of it. Almost worse than the dog itself.

I have an actual black dog- a spaniel as well- bizarrely he helps keep the other one away!

Just found your blog in the last wee while- love it.


kay August 27, 2010 at 10:43 am

very good post. we have a black dog in the house and its really hard for me to deal with it at times. a post 'from the inside' makes it so much easier to understand. thank you.


P plate parenting August 23, 2010 at 8:37 pm

I'm so impressed by the power of the blog and the blogger to express the often unspoken truths, to lighten the load a little for many others and to create awareness in others who are fortunate not to have their own black dogs. Thanks Lori.


toushka August 22, 2010 at 1:19 pm

ooo I have that file of drafts that need to be posted … just not on my blog. I don't think I can be as brave as you.
I kicked my black dog out a while ago. But he comes to visit every now and then. Like a smelly aunty I can't really get rid of and have to let in and make her a cup of tea.
great post.


Draft Queen August 21, 2010 at 10:31 am

Lately I teeter back and forth myself.

You'll pull thru. Just as I will. We have babies and Menfolk who need us.


makemommygosomethingsomething August 20, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Could someone please. PLEASE run that facken black dog over?!!

Gah, I feel for you Momma, I really do. I know how awful sinking into that pit can be…I wish that I didn't. I will sound like a broken record and tell you to take it one moment at at time. ONE. MOMENT.
You can do this. You've done it before. You are a strong STRONG brave woman. You can do this…we'll be here for you all the way Momma.
Big healing hugs,


Nomie August 20, 2010 at 6:11 pm

The black dog is a regular visitor in my family. I know when the bitch is back and I worry for those she menaces.
You describe it so, so well. Keep kicking at her.


RebaMc August 20, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Gosh… so beautifully written! I'm just about to write about my depression too, but not half as well I fear!


Nic@ourparklife August 20, 2010 at 2:31 pm

I have a parent with clinical depression. It is hard. I wish he had as much courage as you do to fight his black dog, to find reasons to look hard for the light….


Maxabella August 20, 2010 at 9:32 am

Oh Lori. I don't have depression and I don't think I ever understood before your post quite what it is like. When you wrote "the sparkle from your laugh" it really hit home. That you could still laugh, but there is no joy in it. Sadness. It's upset me so much to think that I may have been unintentionally callous to friends in the past who have depression. To not understand. I so wish I could take back some of the thoughtless things I've said about 'sunny side' and 'ignoring bad thoughts'… so ridiculously brutal. Unintentional, but there.

Thank you, Lori, for your beautifully written, gut wrenching insight into this illness. Of course you will win, my friend. That black dog doesn't stand a chance.


Tenille August 20, 2010 at 8:26 am

Keep kicking. xo


Megan August 20, 2010 at 6:55 am

That is so beautifully written, Lori. Wishing you all the best – you're so strong, you can do this. xx


Being Me August 20, 2010 at 6:43 am

Sometimes, I don't know how any of us do it.

Very well expressed, Lori. I'm so sorry you know the beast so intimately though.

Reply August 20, 2010 at 4:26 pm

I hope that by writing this it helps you Lori. It is so beautifully written it brings tears to my eyes, but you sound so strong, I won't be sad. I will be happy that your black dog is at heel again. xox


MMBB August 20, 2010 at 7:55 am

The black dog, always pawing at the door. Enough so to remind you he's still there..


livinglifeasme August 19, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I think a lot of us have said black dog. Mine is happily in his kennel chewing Schmackos at the moment, but should the Schmackos run out, he'll be back annoying me too!! U rock lovely. Writing like this helps so many people. xx


Taryn Rucci August 19, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Thankyou for sharing Lori. Hope you are feeling better soon. *Hugs*. xx


Zoey @ Good Goog August 19, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Hope he didn't stick around too long. I have one, except I call it my dark house.


Nadiah August 19, 2010 at 1:23 pm

That was really powerful. Thank you for sharing it with us.


Imperfectly Me August 19, 2010 at 1:19 pm

You inspired me today Lori, keep up the good fight!! My post today is all about the sun not always shining…dedicated to you!!


Jacki August 19, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Reading this post has brought a tear (okay, a flood of tears) to my eyes. I've only just 'come out' with my struggle with PND and you have expressed it so beautifully. Thank you and good luck!


Victoria. {YummyMummySecrets} August 19, 2010 at 12:54 pm

The way you write is so fantastic.
You make me feel not alone.
If we all had a strong attitude the world would be a better place.


Mich August 19, 2010 at 11:48 am

I've been trying to deal with this sort of stuff since I was 15. I liken it to treading water instead of a black dog.


Wanderlust August 19, 2010 at 7:13 am

Oh love, we all battle our own black beasts, don't we? You are so strong. I admire your courage. Keep writing it out.

Reply August 19, 2010 at 7:01 am

Wishing you well Lori. Your attitude rocks and provides strength and hope to others suffering their own black dog encounters. I have no doubt your black dog will be back in its kennel sooner than you think. x


Amy xxoo August 19, 2010 at 6:49 am

My dog is in his kennel too. I'd love to be able to say that he's dead and buried in the backyard somewhere, but in the back of my mind i'm not sure that he is, or ever will be.
I also find it poetic that so many bloggers suffer the same affliction – it proves to me that writing must really help….and if you need any help, all you have to do is let us know.


Mrs Woog August 19, 2010 at 2:31 pm

It is a bit like swings and roundabouts, and yes I have one to. xo


Christine August 19, 2010 at 1:18 am

Thank you…


Brenda August 19, 2010 at 1:11 am

Christ, Lori. I don't have the right words to say. Just know that you have a friend over here. Loads of hugs, honey.xxxx


MultipleMum August 18, 2010 at 11:57 pm

You are so humorous and yet so haunted. I'd never have known. Thanks for sharing with such beautiful prose :)


gerard.kleist August 18, 2010 at 11:28 pm

I had suffered from undiagnosed depression for many years. It took a suicide attempt for it to be diagnosed and a spiritual revelation for me to be able to cope with it (my belief in God helps me).

That you are able to cope with it is great.


Melissa@Suger Coat It August 18, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Hugs. Well written lovely.


Tania August 18, 2010 at 10:31 pm

You write so well Lori – especially on such a topic. You continue to be my saviour.

It is not nice that you also face the black dog but gives me hope that I can overcome my black dog also – and that I have some pretty spesh people sitting in my sidelines


Lucy August 18, 2010 at 10:25 pm

He can smell our fear. But he is rancid too – high alert can at least make us prepated for the attack.



Eva Gallant August 18, 2010 at 10:55 pm

I am fortunate that my black dog is just a puppy and minds pretty well. But my heart goes out to those with big black dogs!


Good Golly Miss Holly! August 18, 2010 at 10:11 pm

I don't think we can ever be ready for the bastard to return but I think you have a fabulous attitude and I wish nothing for you but love and light x


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