Saturday, 23 March 2013

Simon Saves Simon - Part 1


This book saved my life:


Well, let’s be clear, this book made a massive contribution to saving my life. I began to feel blank and numb in January 2007. My father passed in August 2006. I had been strong, trying to be the man of the family for several months. Trying desperately never to show any pain or hurt, you know, in that goddamn Neanderthal way which feels so much like the right thing to do at the time. But after spending the first Christmas without my Dad back home in Stoke, December 2006, then returning to cold dark London to go back to work, January 2007, my whole world just collapsed.

My bro and me at Christmas time

Christmas was everything in our family. I loved it and I still love it to this day. My brother and I were so lucky – we would get everything on Christmas Day and our parents spoilt us rotten for that one day. So, this realisation that my Dad was gone at Christmas time hit me hard.......

THIS BLOG HAS NOW BEEN ARCHIVED - to obtain it email:

p.p.p.s. – below is the article I read which prompted me to buy Matthew Johnstone’s book...



Drawing away the demons: dealing with depression

By CLAIRE COLEMAN, 29 May 2007

One person in 12 suffers from depression at some point in their lives, according to official estimates, but some believe the figure is as high as one in eight.

Winston Churchill famously characterised his depression as an ever-present black dog, an image that has become a potent metaphor for the condition.

Here, former advertising director Matthew Johnstone, who now works as a cartoonist and has suffered from depression for nearly 20 years, uses the image to illustrate his own feelings. His cartoons will resonate with fellow sufferers and their families.

Activities that usually brought pleasure suddenly ceased to

New Zealand-born Johnstone, 42, has suffered from depression since his 20s. He began to experience insomnia and lethargy while working at the Sydney office of the Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency.

He was not depressed all the time; instead it came in waves. 'While the waves were quite small, I could muster the energy to struggle on through,' he remembers. 'But the waves got bigger, and because I hadn't taken care of myself, by my mid-30s they were like a tsunami.'

Black Dog liked to ruin my appetite

After taking time out to go travelling, Johnstone found himself in San Francisco, and it was there that he sought help. He was diagnosed with dysthymia, a form of severe chronic depression.

Although the diagnosis led to treatment in the form of anti-depressants and therapy, it wasn't until the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, that Johnstone confronted his illness.

'I had been drifting along, not facing up to who I really was ? and that was my wake-up call,' he explains. He was living in New York at the time of the terrorist attacks, and was only a block away from the World Trade Centre when the first tower collapsed.

He liked to wake me up with very repetitive, negative thoughts

Like many who survived, that day was to prove a turning point for him. Seeing people jumping or falling from the burning building made him put his life into perspective.

Although he was incredibly successful, financially stable and appeared to have it all, he just wasn't happy with the life he was leading.

One Saturday, six months later, he went to his office 'and in the space of an afternoon I wrote the book. It was the easiest thing I have ever done. It fell out of me like a boulder. It was like putting my lifetime's experience onto the page'.

He says of the collection of illustrations that form an insight into what it is like to live with depression: 'I am not a psychologist, a psychiatrist nor a specialist in the field. I have merely had the unfortunate experience of suffering this terrible condition, which I unaffectionately call Black Dog.

Black Dog may always be part of my life. But I've learnt with patience, humour and discipline, even the worst Black Dog can be made to heel

'I chose the Black Dog as the visual ambassador for this disease. He is an omnipresent, foul-weather fiend who permeates absolutely everything, like a drop of ink in a glass of water.

'Depression is complex, but what I think I have achieved is a way of communicating some of the feelings in simple terms.'

Taken from ‘I Had a Black Dog’, written and illustrated by Matthew Johnstone


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