Friday, 13 February 2009

Churchill's Black Dog

Winston Churchill referred to his “Black Dog”, i.e. the depression which was his lifelong companion.

He spoke of not wanting to be close to the tracks/lines when an Express train raced through a Railway Station, or to close to the edge of a ship on which he was sailing - just in case.

Although I’ve not had these particular concerns (i,e, I have never been suicidal), I have experienced depression as a lifelong visitor.

It usually comes at this time of the year – January through March, just when the days are getting longer and spring is on the cusp. So it is not the depression which comes from winter’s light deprivation.

But at this time of the year, my own black dog visits. He/she wants me to isolate, and to ignore friends an colleagues.

She/he assures me that all my life has been in vain, and that none of my friends are true.

My black dog has a companion of mild paranoia.

I write this - not for your sympathy or concern. I will be alright come April

But I write so that those of you who know the black dog will also know that you are alone.

Here is a paper which suggests that Churchill may have been manic depressive. No-one knows for this paper is based on anecdotes, and not on a clinical diagnosis.
But I “identify” - as you also may.

Lest this post seems to be too gloomy, here is an example of Churchillian humour to brighten our days!

"Lousy" as a Parliamentary Expression

The Minister of Fuel and Power, Hugh Gaitskell, later Attlee's successor as leader of the Labour Party, advocated saving energy by taking fewer baths: (he said) "Personally, I have never had a great many baths myself, and I can assure those who are in the habit of having a great many that it does not make a great difference to their health if they have less."

This was too much for Churchill, a renowned bather:

"When Ministers of the Crown speak like this on behalf of HM Government, the Prime Minister and his friends have no need to wonder why they are getting increasingly into bad odour.

I have even asked myself, when meditating upon these points, whether you, Mr. Speaker, would admit the word 'lousy' as a Parliamentary expression in referring to the Administration, provided, of course, it was not intended in a contemptuous sense but purely as one of factual narration."

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