Challenging the Black Dog: A Creative Outlet For Tackling Depression

Challenging the Black Dog: A Creative Outlet For Tackling Depression

Genres: Mental Health, Self Help
Publisher: Offbeat Brains
Publication Year: 2021
Format: 6x9 Paperback
Length: 214
Illustrator: Patmai De Vera
ASIN: 0648247406
ISBN: 9780648247401

Challenging The Black Dog is a creative therapy journal for people struggling with depression, created under the guidance of a qualified psychologist by someone with 25 years of "been there, done that" lived experience.

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About the Book

Are you looking for a way to put your inner critic in time-out while toilet-training your Black Dog?

Challenging the Black Dog makes starting your recovery from depression as simple as breaking out a well-chewed pen and some craft supplies; because sometimes when you’re afraid of something, it helps to cover the nightmare with glitter and doodles.

Using a combination of personal experience tempered by medical input, this highly customizable and creative remix of the standard therapy workbook offers:

  • Much-needed reassurance that depression is a real, valid illness that’s not only common, but can be treated with time and effort.
  • The opportunity to manage your symptoms in a creative, life-affirming way, regardless of your writing or artistic talent.
  • A self-guided recovery path that will always be in sync with your current needs and capabilities.
  • An escape from the scary sight of endless lines and empty pages that comes with journaling by providing prompts, which are both inspiring and thought-provoking.
  • An eclectic compilation of medically proven therapy techniques that’ll help you actively bolster your mental resilience and stability when you need it most.
  • A fun introduction to the power of transformational storytelling and mindfulness art practices.

Challenging The Black Dog provide a safe, private place for you to get to know your personal Black Dog—to explore and tackle your depression—in a 6×9, softcover second edition journal, including:

– 212 pages
– Artwork by Patmai De Vera
– 37 art prompts
– 54 writing prompts
– Monthly trigger log
– Daily mood doodle log
– 22 colouring pages
– Mental health resource lists

So, let Challenging the Black Dog take on the role of a best friend and much-needed guide through the dark times and give yourself a creative way to start your depression recovery with a few pens, a little time, and a bit of self-honesty.

Challenging the Black Dog is a resource for depression sufferers by a depression sufferer. VJ’s approach provides a very specific type of compassion and understanding that’s only available from lived experience, yet still manages to get across the idea of personal accountability for recovery. It is a treasure trove of ideas, strategies and bite-sized prompts which can be added to by the reader. An experimental approach is encouraged! Importantly it provides hope and will complement professional expertise.
– Patrick McGorry AO MD PhD FRANZCP, Professor of Youth Mental Health, Orygen and the University of Melbourne
Challenging the Black Dog is a thoughtful and creative resource for teenagers and young adults dealing with depression. With an abundance of written exercises and innovative probes it serves as an intimate guide to self-discovery and constructive change. I strongly recommend it not only for those who are experiencing the pain of depression, but for all who wish to reflect deeply with the personal factors that can bring us darkly down and those that can bring us back to renewal and light.
– Brian R. Little, Ph.D., Fellow, Well-Being Institute, Cambridge University
Challenging the Black Dog presents a refreshingly original approach to grappling with depression. The exercises here spark a creative process that simultaneously grounds and explores. I wish I’d had this book in my teens and twenties.
– Mark Pellegrino, Actor, Supernatural and 13 Reasons Why
Challenging the Black Dog reminded me of the strength I gained as I went through my depression and anxiety. Although at the time it felt impossible to have any kind of happiness, I look back now and see my depression as a blessing. I used a few techniques in this book, ones that I had to research on my own since sitting in front of psychiatrists wasn’t my piece of cake. I’m also very stubborn too. There are many old and new ones in this book that I wish I had back then to help me tame my Black Dog. They are ones that I can still use today in my everyday life. There are techniques here to help calm your ‘Black Dog’ and create awareness around what triggers the darkness. Similar to training our muscles to become stronger, our minds can be trained to be strong and content. We can train our ‘Black Dog,’ all we need is a little bit of guidance to get there. This book is a resource that you can use as a guide to psychological well-being. It guides you to see the courage and strength that you have to step into the light. You don’t have to have depression and/or anxiety to read this. It has tools that you can use in everyday life. Your life is the most unique thing you’ll ever have. No one gets to live your life but you. You have the power to shape it the way you want it to be and this book is about you. You can write in it, draw, vent, scribble random things that are important and inspire you. Treat it as your companion. It’s here to help and encourage you. It’s a support crew in your own corner, there to use anytime, anywhere.
What a brilliant idea — Challenging the Black Dog is a creative resource, designed to support personal reflection and insight into the experience of depression. And why shouldn’t the exploration of depression be creative, stimulating and ultimately uplifting? Challenging the Black Dog effectively takes the currently popular, designer “happiness journal” to a new level and depth, confronting the reality of living with depression in a format that can be both pleasurable and relatable.
Challenging the Black Dog is immensely creative, using humour and intentional questions to encourage personal reflection. In the busyness of life slowing down and finding positive ways to manage depression is essential. Challenging the Black Dog provides information, tips and tricks on a wide range of topics in an interactive format to encourage the reader to actively participate in their recovery and tell their own story. There’s something for everyone in this book.
– Associate Professor James Scott, Child and Youth Psychiatrist, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research
Challenging the Black Dog isn’t about replacing professional medical help, but, it will no doubt be an effective road-map to those who are lost and seeking guidance. Challenging the Black Dog is significant in that it does not hand you answers, but rather sets you up to find them yourself.
Challenging the Black Dog is a great addition to the resources available for young people with depression. The book is easy to use and allows consumers to easily relate to images and messages which resonate for young people. In particular VJ’s own lived experience of depression at a young age makes the messages ring true.
– Dr Ted Cassidy MB BS FRANZCP, Psychiatrist & CEO TMS Australia
We need to ditch the ‘one size fits all’ stereotype of depression and anxiety and Challenging the Black Dog provides a creative outlet for young people to be artistic, to vent if they feel like it, or to explore their thoughts and feelings in a safe, private way.
– Professor Jane Burns, University of Sydney
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About the Author
VJ Cast

VJ Cast is a non-fiction author, colouring book creator, introvert, and co-parent of a home-schooled teen on the spectrum.

She’s brings over two decades of experience with depression, social anxiety, trichotillomania, disordered eating (EDNOS), non-suicidal self-harm, and bipolar II to her mental health journals. Fibromyalgia also enjoys kicking her ass, so she’s close friends with numerous hot water bottles.

She lives on a small island off the coast of Queensland, Australia with an abundance of wildlife and far too many friendly mosquitoes.

Her hair colours, like her medications, are subject to change.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."