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Mr. Chartwell, by Rebecca Hunt.  The subject is depression and the antagonist, an enormous black dog who’s ill-mannered, repulsive and smelly, but strangely seductive.

At some point in the narrative we are introduced to the notion that depression can be allowed to enter and for some but not all, it’s possible to invite it to leave.

The traditional western treatment of depression recommends that we look at serotinin!  Examine dopamine levels!   Alter the neuro-etc. pathways and change the chemistry of the brain!–which has surely gone awry.  Somewhere along the line the brain went left when it should’ve gone right.  Sorry, we don’t really know why but here you are.  Try this pill.

As someone who explores the energy of things, depression (and sometimes happiness and anger) often feels like a visitation so I love the analogy of Black Pat, the dog who’s so massive and unyielding that he prevents one character from getting out of bed in the morning.  Or sitting up, for that matter.

Black Pat is variously funny, ironic, disgusting, and pathetic.  He promises the heroine, “if you let me love you it will be the longest love of your life”.   He shows up when the protagonists most need their wits about them and for one longtime sufferer, he shows up on cue at pivotal and even historic moments.

That’s what interests me:  that his presence might fuel the creative process, or impulse certain individuals to achieve.   Many posit that Winston Churchill’s remarkable achievements can be traced to the way his personality expressed itself through bipolar disorder.

Why a dog?

The Depression character needs to be sympathetic in some way; most people can relate to a dog.  You need reliability and dogs are loyal.

Dogs slobber.  They crunch at food and rattle their chains.  They are a distraction.  Depression is forever rattling around nearby, pecking away at your focus.  Black Pat chews and destroys things he oughtn’t.  He cracks jokes and coldly assassinates your new friend’s character.  He strikes odd poses and smells of earth and decay.

Dogs are big enough. Depression needs to be bigger than you or at least heavier.  Black Pat is 6 ft. 7.

As a metaphor the dog is ideal.  A cat would bring stealth but a dog, all you have to do is stir from your chair to get its attention.  As much as I adore them, cats are forever taking personal days to pursue their own agendas and who needs to climb the back fence, looking for depression?

This is a book that needs to be digested.  Why does depression come for us in the first place?   Is it possible we invite it in?  Is it possible to invite it out






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