Dancing with the black dog

Hello and welcome to my latest blog post about dancing with the black dog.

When I talk about dancing with the black dog, I am talking about depression. The black dog has become a very popular and useful means for visualising and representing depression.

As skilfully shown by the following You Tube video:

As you can see from the video, depression is a very common condition and everyones black dog will look slightly different and come along at different times and in different situations in their lives.

I talk about dancing with the black dog because although depression can be an enduring condition – you can learn to live with and manage the behaviour of the black dog in a more skilful way. Learning to dance with the black dog, when the black dog is trying to stomp on you, or drag you down and therefore you can take back some control and dare I say have some fun despite your difficulties.

If you are already living with a chronic pain, or other long-term health condition, in my experience and through the experiences of clients that I have spoken to, dancing with the black dog becomes a common occurrence. One that can make your existing chronic condition seem a lot worse and more difficult to manage.

So what can you do?

Here are my top three tips for learning to dance more skilfully with the black dog:

  1. Mindfulness meditation

As many of my blog and Facebook page followers will know, I am a massive advocate for the Breathworks approach to mindfulness and pain management. Designed to help you develop present moment awareness of your body sensations, including your pain sensations and other sensations in the body and your mood. Also with the Breathworks approach a huge emphasis is placed on learning to give yourself and other people compassion and loving kindness. This in itself can be very healing and help in accepting your body and you pain, be it physical , or mental pain.

Here is the founder of the Breathworks approach Vidyamala Burch leading a three minute breathing space, give it a go and see what you think:

2. Personal counselling

In my experience finding the right personal counsellor for you can be one of the biggest steps that you can make towards a place of healing.

Counselling can’t take your pain away completely, nor cure your depression immediately. However, over time you can learn with the support of your therapist how to manage more skilfully the up’s and downs of your condition.

Feeling deeply understood and valued by the fellow human being that is your counsellor can be incredibly empowering and healing and that is the power of the therapeutic relationship.

If you are in the UK and looking for a personal counsellor, a good place to start is the Counselling Directory: https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAtvPjBRDPARIsAJfZz0pTQfYBJr9I6bR-zHm2jsgZs3BfIetQOXYGSusLG2YBPKbURt7s4vwaAp-oEALw_wcB

3. Finding a hobby that you enjoy

Having a hobby that motivates you to get out of bed every morning can be a really useful way of taming the black dog.

For me, this is 100% ice skating. I have been skating for just over a year now and even on my bad days, skating brings me a great deal of joy and fulfilment, especially when I have been training and practising hard to learn a move and it finally happens!

Whatever sport, or hobby you choose, maybe it’s helpful to think of your black dog coming for a run, coming to yoga class, or in my case donning a pair of ice skates and skating round the rink! Instead of the dog getting bigger and bigger, dominating everything that you see, or the dog getting angry and frustrated. Let’s work together on ways of calming the black dog and dancing with it 🙂

I hope that this blog has been helpful, if you have any questions, or comments I would love to hear them.

Warm wishes,


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