“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” (Matthew Johnstone, Speaker & Author of I Had a Black Dog).

I agree with Matthew’s intuitive statement, particularly what he says about pain in general.

“We will go over it, under it, around it and away from it but rarely do we go through it.”

This statement reminds me of another insightful statement I read in The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton

Ms. Hamilton writes, “And then finally the way through grief is grieving.”

How simple.  How impossible.  How true.

Grief hovers like a thick fog that follows its victims everywhere they go to escape its clammy grasp.  Grief is like a 15′ Boa Constrictor constantly, slowly squeezing  life from its prey.

People I love have depression or unprocessed grief, yet avoid treatment for their illness.  They may self-medicate with illicit drugs, alcohol, or video games. Anything but facing the pain and asking for help to go through it. Anything but looking life in the eye and professing, “You’re mine!

Get help!  PLEASE get help!

Do not allow pain to be your master.  No matter how difficult, push through.

Get help!

Marsha T.

Visit Matthew’s blog at


Depression is a Physical Illness-recycled

Depression affects the mind. It is not an illness of the mind. It is an illness in the brain, a part of the body, a physical illness. Depression is not a spiritual illness, though depression can affect the spirit. Depression is not a lack of faith, a failure, or a moral issue. Depression is not laziness.

Depression hurts. Depression can be debilitating. Depression sucks enjoyment. Depression removes the sunshine in a sunny day, the joy of something once enjoyed. Depression lies. It calls you “a failure,” “lazy.” It says “You cannot get better,” “Medicine is a lack of faith,” “Counseling is not trusting God.”

None of these things are true.

Depression is treatable.

God is not disappointed with you if you have depression. He weeps for the person struggling with depression. He longs to comfort the person struggling with depression.

Please, please, please, hold on! Hold on to your family. Hold on to your friends. Hold on to your doctor’s orders. Hold on to life!

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Watching an Old Dog Sleep

Aspen Skye Hanntude McBounce

Aspen Skye Hanntude McBounce

It’s been a big morning, already. My almost 16-year-old dog peed in her crate again last night.  I bathed her, and rubbed her dry. She used to get antsy at bath time.  Now she likes her bath. She stands calmly in the sink as I spray warm water onto her back, tail, under her tail, and her belly. Meanwhile, she likes to sniff for left-over food that sometimes sits in the adjoining sink. Licking dried fried sausage remains from the night before is a special treat.  She happily allows me to massage soap into her coat, and rinse her off with warm water.

After her bath, my old dog begins her pacing ritual. She paces the length of our family room–one foot in front of another, slow and methodic. Back and forth. Back and forth. Not frantically, but endlessly, it seems, like a wind-up toy unwinding. With one arm, I lift her–14 pounds–onto the couch where she continues to wander. My younger dog gives a low growl and, disgusted, jumps off the couch to find peace in his crate.  He is mirroring my impatience.

How can I relax when my dog is pacing back and forth? I push her gently to her side and she doesn’t resist; I give her a massage. She closes her eyes, obviously enjoying the special treatment, but pops up as soon as I stop the massage, she jumps off the couch and wanders into the kitchen to drink some water. She returns to the family room where she again starts to pace. Finally, she stops. With an audible sigh, she lays down, her head, like a weight, drops between her front legs. A moment later, she moves her head to the right, gives a little, pig-like grunt, and closes her eyes.

Almost immediately, her ribs move up-down-up-down, slow and steady, like a sleeping baby. Then, with another grunt, this one more of a sigh/grunt, she moves her head to the left where she settles into the V created between her leg and chest. I know she is sleeping 15 seconds later when I hear a teeny, tiny almost inaudible wheeze, then a rumble. With a groan, she shifts her body onto her right side where her rhythmic breath exudes a slight snore. Fifteen minutes later, she is finally completely relaxed.

When I return from my errands in a couple of hours, she will still be sleeping.  I will let her out to relieve herself.  She will find a patch of sun and take another nap. She she will come back in and start pacing in the evening about an hour before she has her dinner.  I will lift her onto the couch and rub her back until she relaxes into slumber.

I hope that somebody cares for me like an old dog when I’m elderly.

The Credible Character

Writing, particularly writing personal story, is an egocentric activity.  In her book, Your Life as Story: Discovering the “New Auto Biography” and /Writing Memoir as Literature, author Tristine Rainer comments that memoir is the most difficult genre to write.  Why didn’t somebody tell me that before I started writing memoir nine years ago?

One reason writing memoir is so difficult is because it is hard to write about oneself. Even people who think highly of themselves–people with inflated egos–would find it challenging to write an engaging memoir. It is awkward for even the earnest person to reveal their flaws.  Nobody wants to expose their dirty laundry.

But perfection is boing.

To have an engaging memoir, the main character, YOU, must be credible. You must find your flaws then eloquently, expose those flaws. Then mix with the flaws with the good stuff. Flaws + great qualities = credible, and really interesting, main characters.

Give your main character flaws, and you will have an entirely believable person who brings the rest of your story to life.

Your Life as Story: Discovering the New Auto Biography and Writing Memoir as Literature by Tristine Rainer

(Tarcher; 1st Trade Paperback ed edition (April 13, 1998)