Black Monster – a personal story of depression


From time to time everybody gets out of bed ‘on the wrong side’, but when you struggle with anxiety and depression this often leads to a situation which quickly spirals out of control. Historically known as ‘the black dog’, depression and anxiety can sit upon you, churn within you and follow you around like an unwelcome companion. Now, I love dogs and can think of nothing nicer than a black dog following me around all day, so mine is a Black Monster.

After completing an evening course in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy with Mindful Pathway, I was in control. On top of the world.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up one morning to find my Black Monster was back. I was angry with the world, the churning inside me was purgatory. This was happening for no good reason and I was cross with Black Monster.
But this time it was different. I had noticed it before it took hold and I didn’t put up a fight or pretend it wasn’t happening. This time I was able to sit with it, look at it, be with it and by doing so it seemed small, weak and insignificant. My day turned around. I now realise my life may just have turned around too. This is mindfulness in action.

This is the poem I wrote that day called ‘Black Monster’.

Black Monster by Caroline Fantozzi

I don’t know where to start this morning.
I, just, don’t, know, where to start.
I can’t think straight, I can’t see straight.
And this house is in an awful state.
And I crawled out of bed so late.

Who’s is THIS?
Why is THIS here?
Will NOBODY help me OUT?!

It’s fine.
I will do it all myself.
(While I rage and scream and shout.)

Can anybody hear that knocking?
It’s irritating me to the core.
Can anybody hear that knocking?
Will NOBODY open the door?

It’s fine.
I will do it all myself.
(Before I crumble to a heap on the floor)

Black Monster?
Black Monster.
Black Monster, is that you?
You didn’t say you were coming to stay.
To be honest, I thought we were through.

I did my eight weeks.
I did breathing, I shared,
I worked so hard, with so much care.
I did a marvellous retreat.
I even bought a special seat!

You can’t come in Black Monster.
You can’t.
I worked…I worked…
I worked so hard.

You should have seen me last week Black Monster.
You should have seen me go!
Spinning those plates on my fingers and toes
Even spinning those plates on the end of my nose
While I danced through the streets in an effortless jig
And, yes, I felt tired but I cared not a fig.

And now you’re here.
And I. Want. You. Gone.

But I don’t have the energy
So, you’d better come along.

In fact, Black Monster, my old friend…

Let’s sit down, hold hands
And breathe for a while.
Let’s sit down and breathe
with a hint of a smile.

Just breathe and be still.
I will sit with you Black Monster,
Perhaps I always will.

But now my life has greater depth
And I see beyond the fear.
The hatred and the anger
That you seem to hold so dear.
I see the truth and the stillness
And I feel the change inside.
Black Monster may come to visit,
But it has nowhere to hide.

Thank you to Caroline Fantozzi for sharing her story of depression and mindfulness. Caroline’s story and poem was originally published on the Mindful Pathway website and has been republished here with the permission of Caroline and Mindful Pathway.

If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness, Mindful Pathway offer practical 8 week Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), an evidence-based approach to equip you with meditation techniques and the tools for mindful living in a relaxed and friendly environment. The courses are suitable for the general public and contain group meditation, reflection and teaching.


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