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Featured Blog: Black Dog Scale of Madness

Or BDSM for shor…..hang on, I’ve not thought this through.

But I suppose in a metaphoric way – taking away the sexual connotations – depression is very much a BDSM relationship, with the dominant and submissive mental state constantly exchanging roles through various moods, coping techniques and events.

So, it does work.

(If you have found this page hoping to see scantily clad women and men in chains, sorry, try again)

Over the last few months I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster dealing with great times – there was one point I was genuinely happy and content – and bad times, not the worst, but the slope was getting steeper.

On reflection I realised that depression occurs on a sliding scale, each step of the scale bringing it’s own character, each Black Dog is different.

I’ll try to explain my scale below.

Please note that I love dogs and the following descriptions are in no way a reflection on the dogs shown!

1 – The Good Dog


This dog is a friend, he is happy and enthusiastic, he bounds around with energy and drive, he is carefree and loving.

He also serves as a reminder of the bad times, as if he’s a new dog after a badly behaved one passed away, but having such a good dog by your side let’s you realise that there are good times after the bad.

With my good dog in tow I feel great, his enthusiasm rubs off on me, and I’m happy and confident (without being manic!) that I can move forward and achieve happiness in my life.

2 – The Sad Dog

There’s nothing more heartbreaking than sad puppy eyes.  This dog makes you start to feel a little low, just a bit sad, but you can’t quite put you’re finger on why, and he can’t explain either, he’s just a puppy!

You start to trawl through every little thing, trying to make sense of why you feel this way.

More often than not I can identify and manage this stage, but if the sadness goes on for a few days or more, then you know there could be a problem brewing.

3 – The Yappy Dog

I have used a terrier here on purpose, as they are determined and tenacious little buggers.

This is the stage where the voices start, the same message goes through your head time and time again, and slowly but surely the messages get more and more negative.

The constant drone of the yappy dog wears you down, unless you can nip it in the bud.

You’ve still got some fight at this stage, and you know that when you get to here there’s two ways to go, you fight back, or you head towards the darkness.

Last year I remember this stage, the yap-yap-yap of my negative inner-monologue, but I kept quiet, hoping it would go away without me having to do anything about it, how wrong I was.

4 – The Ninja Dog

This is where it really starts, the inner fight to determine who is dominant, the positive or the negative.

This dog hides in shadows, it’s sneaky, he waits until you’re in a lull of concentration, then he pounces, and in an often weakened mental state by the tiresome yapping, you succumb.

And when he appears, the slope steepens immediately, and it’s very difficult to hang on, the negativity increases, the confidence and esteem are eroded to a point where you start feel no hope or way back.

This for me is when I can safely say ‘I’m depressed’.

5 – The Angry Dog

This is the angry and irritable stage, so far it’s all been internal, although I’m sure there have been significant changes in the way i behave, so far it’s been unnoticeable – to me.

This guy comes along and turns me into a horrible being, my positivity has dwindled into a barely audible squeak, and everything is a problem, and everything is my fault, I cannot see a way out and the dark cloud consumes me.

As much as I hate the other stages, this is where it really starts to effect those around me, at times when this dog is around, I need to be alone to fight my oncoming demons.

6 – The Demon Dog

This is where it comes to a head, you’re trapped by this behemoth, you cannot see past him, you think that you are the worst human being in the world, and that human kind would be better off without you.

This dog is pure, unadulterated evil, he makes you think things that are not true about you and those around you, he turns your head away from the positive and uplifting, and forces you to stare deep into an abyss of negativity, fear and hopelessness.

He convinced me that my friends, workplace, family and worst of all my Wife and two boys would be better off without me, I was certain that this was the truth.

The great news is, you CAN face this guy and come back.

There is no timescale associated with the stages, it can happen within an hour, a day even over many years.

The key for me at each stage is to identify the triggers, and deal with them, do nothing is not an option.

I’m lucky in that I’ve been able to realise and reflect what those triggers are, and there’s plenty of help out there for you to identify and manage yours.


I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – TALK, as soon as you can.

I’ve stared into the eyes of the Demon, and I know I don’t want to again, he scared me.


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