A great way to ease the fear of the black dog

(Guest blog)

I get to meet some wonderful people in my job and I was thrilled when one of those, wanted to become a guest blogger for AV WELLBEING this month.

I met Lee-Ann Cordingley, when we both attended a course about developing online content, something which both of our businesses had to navigate last year. We have kept in touch and last week Lee-Ann attended my online Mental Health First Aid course, during the course Lee-Ann talked openly about her experience of mental ill health and shared this blog about ‘A great way to ease the fear of the black dog’.

Lee-ann’s Bio

Lee-ann delivers nurturing, creative, and vibrant yoga lessons in her yoga studio in Nottingham, hosts an award-winning blog, and an active online yoga and wellness studio membership. She began her career in corporate banking and having created successful businesses in the e-commerce and wellbeing industries as a parent of young children, she understands what it is to feel busy and stressed and how valuable emotional and mental wellbeing is for a healthy life. As well as her community and private yoga classes for adults, children and in corporate settings, Lee-ann has a deepening affinity for women’s wellness, pleasure and empowerment and leads a very strong and successful Women’s Circle. She is a clinical sexologist and sex coach in-training because she believes in passionately in holistic physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

Website allyouyoga.co.uk 
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/leeanncordingley/ 
LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/leeanncordingley

When the black dog comes prowlin’

The term ‘black dog’ has become synonymous with depression.

I suffer with it myself and I know the heaviness that grips on just about everything. If you’re “lucky” enough to suffer with anxiety too, well then my friend – I know that it’s a bullshit thing to experience.

It sucks ass and it’s all-encompassing.

So if you understand what I’m talking about, I’m very sorry for it; you’re not alone and I send you hugs ?

It’s likely you might have sometimes found yourself hiding under a duvet, seeking solace in a packet of custard creams or trawling Google to find answers or suggestions for respite (I do these things, so I understand. I’m not trying to discount your experience.)

Last week, I stumbled over the lyric of a Bastille song and I absolutely love it, because…

Can we reframe the idea of the black dog???

The song is called Survivin’ and all being well, I’ve posted a link here ??




The black dog

All dogs were once puppies, right?

I happen to have a very wonderful black dog in my life – two of them, in fact – and I don’t see either of them nearly as often as I’d like to.

One of them is a big bundle of boundless energy who loves to play, and swim, and jump. She has a muscular tail that can knock you off your feet with her whole-body wag. Her nickname is Bobbers and she brings me joy whenever I think of how much she loves to see me (Over the years, I have unashamedly brought her affection with snacks. What can I say, she’s a Labrador and I have no guilt ??‍♀️). You can see a picture of her beautiful snout at the top of this post ??. Isn’t she the cutest??

The other is the gentlest, most loving & handsome boy who will do anything to be snuggled up on the sofa with his Daddy (or with his Mumma if Daddy’s not around). I know that he loves me, too, because when I’m able to visit I’m someone else to cuddle with and he’ll cry until he’s invited up onto the sofa for a hug. He is a real gentleman. Here he is waiting patiently with Lola for a snack.

“Say whatt?!”

I much prefer these type of black dogs to the other type

Do you have a dog or do you know one of these furry creatures? Do they ever go off their lead? If you don’t have a dog, maybe you could find another human who lives with one and see if you can make friends with their Furbaby.

Lola loves to go off her lead and despite being almost ten, she races around like a puppy with her tongue lolloping around out the side of her mouth. You can tell she is absolutely Loving. Life.

In fairness, she also barks far too much at the postman and anyone who dares walk past the house and is a bit of a prat in that regard. (And the postman is a really lovely guy, so I don’t know what her problem is. Cheers Mark ??)

I tried to find a picture of her whizzing around to show you the sheer joy on her face but to be honest, she’s just too damned fast and there’s no capturing it. So instead, here she is posing to allow everyone to admire her beauty…

“Humans, you may admire my beauty.” Princess Lola

You see how easily I’ve gone off topic?

These fluffy, four-legged angels on earth are the perfect teachers of how to live in the moment and savour every single moment of joy.

They also like to get involved with your yoga practice (which can also help with anxiety and depression, you know)

Dillan photobombing / helping out with Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana, (ironically, also known as 3-legged dog pose), on Salisbury Plains.

…they like to pull funny faces

… and let’s not forget they always know when you’re feeling playful and

Dogs always know when you’re sad

and so they can love you like you are their favourite cuddly toy.

All the love for Lola’s cuddles

That was the last dog-spam picture. I promise.

Keep the fear of the black dog at bay

The next time I feel the prowling of the malevolent hound coming around the corner, I am going to try my hardest to remember that all dogs started out as puppies who loved to race and bound and play.

Maybe there’s a very valid reason that my feelings are requesting that I pause to process situations or emotions rather than just getting on with the daily grind.

Maybe there’s something that the dog is trying to teach me.

Keeping a personal journal is a really excellent way to dig deep with those kind of questions. Brain-dumping all of the words out of your mind and getting them onto paper is a really good way for clearing some space for other stuff.

The third of the Niyamas, Tapas, invites us to grow through the challenges that life presents us with. And let’s face it, growth and self care is actually not always about bubble baths and having a chill time reading a book.

It’s about doing the work of processing difficult emotions.

This is just one of the ways that a regular yoga practice can influence and benefit your emotional wellbeing. Tapas also applies when you’re in the yoga pose that you really dislike and the teacher says Three. More. Breaths. And you feel the tension in the body and the tension in the mind as Ego starts to pipe up.

It’s normal and it’s ok.

(It is said that the yoga pose you don’t like is the one you should take more frequently to be better able to deal with difficult thoughts or feelings.)

How I’ll get along with this practice is anyone’s guess but you can bet your last Scooby snack I’m going to give it a go!

Do you think you might benefit from reframing the Black Dog? Or do you know someone else who it might be helpful for? Do all the friendly, social stuff like sharing, commenting, liking etc so these words can reach a wider audience and perhaps help one or two extra people.

(You can also get in touch just to tell me which is your favourite picture! If you love dogs and you use Instagram, check out Aunty Annie’s All About the Dog page. She takes the most wonderful pictures of her tribe of doggos and their adventures around Wiltshire. They are great images and often make me laugh with their wonderful expressions. )

Now then. This is important.

I really, really hope this change in perspective might be helpful for you and I would love for you to tell me your thoughts on the subject. I need you to know that I am not being dismissive of your personal circumstances, at all. If you are struggling in any way, I implore you to talk to someone you trust, or speak with your GP or the Samaritans if you could do with some extra support.

I promise you, my darling, you are not on your own with whatever you are dealing with. All things are temporary and they pass.

Sending lots of love from me and Lola,

Lee-ann x

She struggled with her own gut health for many years, with over-the-counter medicines failing to provide any relief, so decided to take matters into her own hands, completing a three-year diploma in Nutritional Therapy.

She now works with people struggling with their own gut health, hormonal imbalances and chronic disease, taking a full-body approach to their health.

She delivers our Cultivating a Healthy Gut for Good Mental Health programme.

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Her background is in mental health and wellbeing having worked in a range of settings including businesses, the NHS and charities.

Kate has lived experience of mental illness and previously worked as a Peer Supporter for the NHS before joining a local company delivering sport and wellbeing session in schools where she spent many years before becoming a freelance trainer.

Kate has been a qualified Mental Health First Aid instructor since 2014.

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Her vast experience in business – working as a management consultant for companies like KPMG before setting up her own consultancy practice – has seen her designing and delivering practical interventions to companies from varying sectors.

She developed her own model for employee engagement that has seen fantastic success in the corporate world.
Sue has an MA in HRM/MCIPD and is a BPS registered Behaviour Assessor.

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