Hello and welcome to my website.

Like my book, I Had a Black Dog, I want to try and keep this site simple, informative and up to date.

Because of the illustrative nature of the book, words were modest, so hopefully I can elaborate a little more here than I did in the book.

It’s very important to state that I am not a psychologist or a specialist in the field, this website is dedicated to what I’ve experienced, learnt and what has worked for me in dealing with depression over the last 20 years. Although I am a million light years away from where I have been, I still have to remain vigilant about the Black Dog as he likes to pop in every once and a while.

When humans experience pain, be it emotional or physical, we tend to avoid it at all costs. We will go over it, under it, around it and away from it but rarely do we go through it. One of the simplest tools I’ve learnt is acceptance; acceptance is the one thing that deprives the Black Dog of his power.

If Black Dog chooses to make an appearance I no longer take flight or burn huge reserves of energy trying to conceal it. I accept the Black Dog is there, I batten down the hatches, I try to unload some responsibilities and live in the knowledge that it will pass because it always does.

It’s also important to be proactive in taking appropriate steps to lessen the impact like, exercise, eating correctly and getting rest.

There’s no simple answer, everyone’s path in dealing with a Black Dog is different but it is imperative to find a solid support base, from family, close friends, your doctor and even a support group. Educate yourself because knowledge is power.

Like all bad dogs a Black Dog needs discipline, patience understanding to bring him into line. Never, ever give up.

Matthew Johnstone


Śřţª Đ' said...

Dear Matthew,
My name is Danielle and I'm a 14-year-old girl. I read your book recently because I feel I have a black dog in my life, but I'm afraid to tell to my parents about this, What do you think?

Matthew J said...

Hi Danielle,
Thanks for getting in touch. Yes I think you should definitely tell your parents. How are they to know if something is truly wrong, if you don't tell them?

Perhaps show them my book, for people who have never been touched by the Black Dog, it can be difficult to understand.

I think one of the 1st steps in dealing with depression is admitting there is a problem in the 1st place and going from there.

Perhaps if you have a good school counsellor or a teacher that you look up to and respect, you could also talk to them.

Have a look at these two websites also http://au.reachout.com (I've been doing a lot of work with the Inspire Foundation who created this website and I think they're awesome! You can also look at a website which the Black Dog Institute (where I work 3 days a week) has developed for teenagers:


Good luck Danielle, be kind to yourself, you are not alone and you can get through this.

Best wishes and woof woof!!

Matthew J

Ph0t0bug@bellsouth.net said...

First I would like to say thank you for your book... As much as I would like to say I have read it I cant because it has yet to come out in the US. I followed a link to the 9min film that you allowed to be done about the "black dog" and it really does hit home. Depression has been apart of my life since I was in High School and lately it has been really hard to deal with. Having problems and trying not to "bother" friends is not working out so well but I have posted a link to the movie so that maybe... just maybe someone will see what its like. Let me know when the book comes out in the U.S. I need a copy for my shelf... just as a reminder.

Wilson in New Orleans

Matthew J said...

Hi Wilson,

'I Had a Black Dog' is available in the US but it's under the different title of 'Living With a Black Dog' it's published by Andrews McMeel.
A bit confusing I know.
Thanks for the email and I hope this finds you well. Best wishes and woof woof!! Matthew

Claudia said...

Dear Matthew,
I came in contact with Your book during my stay in a clinic having a burn out and a deep depression. The clear words and the simple structure helped me to do the first steps to accept and to live with my own black dog. Now, 2 years later, I feel good and watchful, can do my work and have help from family, close friends and my shrink. And me and one of these friends, we founded a support group with the thoughts of mindful based stress reduction (MBSR) and we call us “The black dogs” with a bow to You and Your fine book. We are 12 people of very different ages and professions, we meet once a week and it has become part of our lifes. And it’s a very good feeling to know you taming Your black dog down under just as we try here in Berlin, Germany. Thank You so much.
Claudia and The Black Dogs