October 12, 2016

Our Black Dog

Leah Higgins

This essay in a way was cathartic in order to understand how I felt after being told that my Dad had problems with his mental health, specifically, depression. I had known a few years prior to writing the essay, but I hadn’t ever had the opportunity to explore how I felt before writing this, it is an extremely close, personal piece of work. Many things happened between being told about my Dad’s illness, and writing the piece. My parent’s had a very difficult separation, brought on partly by this ‘shadow’ as I describe it in the work, and this had a massive impact on myself. Through exploring this theme, I came across Churchill’s metaphor of ‘the black dog’, which was incredibly fitting for my own black Labrador, Geordie. He is often referred to as ‘the shadow’ in our household because of his tendency to lie on the dark wood floors in the dark. The depression brought on a detachment of my dad from the core family, and left my brother and I unstable in our family security for a short period of time. This essay helped myself to work through what I was feeling and gave me a creative outlet.