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"In Asia Pacific, there are 370 million persons with disabilities, 238 million of them of working age. Their unemployment rate is usually double that of the general population and often as high as 80% or more" - Debra A Perry ‘Disability issues in the employment and social protection, 2002 (sourced in the UN Enable Factsheet on Disability & Employment, 2011)
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I had a black dog, his name was depression


Animated cartoon for the World Health Organisation.
I had a black dog. His name was depression.
[Man is sitting, holding his head in his hands. He looks sad. His shadow is that of a dog.]
Whenever the black dog  made an appearance,  I felt empty and life seemed to slow down.

He could surprise me with a visit for no reason or occasion.
[Man is walking past a wall, he is wearing a smiley face t-shirt. A dog’s head pops up from behind the wall. The man looks concerned.]
The black dog made me look and feel older than my years.
[Man looks in a mirror and sees a black dog as his reflection. Both the black dog and him look miserable.]
When the rest of the world seemed to be enjoying life, I could only see it through the black dog.
[Man is on a beach, with people sailing and riding bicycles. He is looking through sunglasses shaped as a black dog and looks unhappy].
Activities that usually brought me pleasure, suddenly ceased to.
[Man is playing with a kite, but a black dog is standing on the line of the kite.]
He liked to ruin my appetite.
[Dog is standing over the plate of a man as he is trying to eat dinner.]
He chewed up my memory and ability to concentrate.
[Man is trying to read a book entitled “How to improve your memory”. Whilst a dog is digging out the inside of the man’s head.]

Doing anything or going anywhere with the back dog required super human strength.
[Man is walking, dragging a large black dog who is resisting and holding the man back.]

At social occasions, he would sniff out any confidence I had and chase it away.
[Man is standing in a party. He is tiny compared to the other people there. The dog is just staring at him accusingly.]

My biggest fear was being found out. I worried that people would judge me.
[Man is standing wearing a black dog as a hairline. Two people behind are whispering and pointing at him.]

Because of the shame and stigma of the black dog. I was constantly worried that I would be found out. So I invested vast amounts of energy into covering him up. Keeping up an emotional lie is exhausting.
[Man walks into a room, he appears confident. A large black dog who is larger than the door looks at him sadly.]

Black dog could make me think and say negative things.
[Man speaks and the speech bubble that comes out is a black dog.]

He could make me irritable and difficult to be around.
[Man is screaming angrily at a woman who looks sad and down. As image is planned out, we can see the man is actually being bitten by the dog.]

He would take my love and bury my intimacy.
[Black dog is lying in the middle of the bed. Between the man and his partner. The dog is staring at the man, while the woman looks sad and estranged on the other side of the bed.]

He loved nothing more than to wake me with highly repetitive and negative thinking. He also liked to remind me how exhausted I was going to be the next day.
[Dog is standing on the man’s head in the middle of the night. The clock states it’s 3:20 AM… negative thoughts are written on the wall behind them.]

Having a black dog in your life isn’t so much about feeling a bit down, sad or blue… at it’s worst it’s about being devoid of feeling altogether.
[Man is floating inside a blue box. The box is being led by the black dog.]

As I got older the black dog got bigger and he started hanging around all the time.
[Man is sitting on a chair holding his head in his hands. He is in the shadow of a black dog, 4 times his size.]
I’d chase him off with whatever I thought may send him running.
[Man tries to attack the huge black dog with the chair he was sitting on. But the black dog just looks at him unfazed.]

But more often than not he’d come out on top. Going down became easier than getting up again.
[Dog pins the man down under his paw.]

So I became rather good at self medication… which never really helped.
[Man sits next to the dog in a bar, drinking and smoking cigarettes.]

Eventually I felt totally isolated from everything and everyone.
[Man is trying to stand but is squashed underneath the belly of a giant dog.]
[Man is a lifeboat with the black dog. The boat is in the middle the sea during a storm. Large waves are everywhere around them.]

The black dog had finally succeeded in hijacking my life. When you lose all joy in life, you can begin to question what the point of it is.
[The man is on all fours. He is transluted, inside him, we can see a black dog standing.]

Thankfully this was the time that I sought professional help. This was my first step towards recovery and a major turning in my life.
[Man is in a session with a councilor. The councilor has drawn a black dog on his note pad. While the man speaks.]

I learned that it doesn’t matter who you are, the black dog affects millions and millions of people. It is an equal opportunity mongrel.
[A number people are standing, each has their own black dog. They are all different shapes and sizes.]

I also learned that there was no silver bullet or magic pill. Medication can help some and others might need a different approach altogether.
[Jar of medicine – reads Black dog begone – take two daily]

I also learned that being emotionally genuine and authentic to those who are close to you, can be an absolute game changer.
[Man is presenting a slideshow to a group of people. He points to the back dog on the screen.]

Most importantly, I learn not to be afraid of the black dog and I taught him a few tricks of my own.
[Man plays with the dog, throwing a stick which the dog is chasing over a cliff.]

The more tired and stressed you are the louder he barks, so it’s important to learn how to quiet your mind.
[Man is meditating on the couch. He has books and a cup of tea at his feet. The dog is outside in the rain.]

It’s been clinically proven that regular exercise can be as effective for treating mild to moderate depression as antidepressants. So go for a walk or a run and leave the mutt behind.
[Man is running and smiling. Dog is struggling to keep up and panting.]

Keep a mood journal, getting your thoughts on paper can be cathartic and often insightful. Also keep track of the things that you have to be grateful for.
[Man is writing in journal. The mood journal, shows a series of black dogs, each smaller than the later.]

The most important thing to remember is that no matter how bad it gets… if you take the right steps, talk to the right people, black dog days can and will pass.
[Man is sitting on a bench and a black cloud, the shape of the dog, is raining on him.]
[Man is now sitting on the same bench, the sky is clear and the man is relaxed, sitting back and smiling.]

I wouldn’t say that I’m grateful for the black dog but he has been an incredible teacher. He forced me to re-evaluate and simplify my life. I learned that rather than running away from my problems it’s better to embrace them.
[Man hugs the black dog. Dog looks surprised and perhaps uncomfortable.]

The black dog may always be part of my life but he will never be the beast that he was. We have an understanding. I learned that through knowledge, patience, discipline and humour the worst black dog can be made to heal.
[Black dog is on a lead at the feet of the man. He is very small compared to his master.]

If you are in difficulty, never be afraid to ask for help. There is absolutely no shame in doing so. The only shame is missing out on life.
[Man is holding a tiny black dog in his hand. And is smiling at him compassionately.]
[Text appears – Depression. Get Help. Be Helped.]

At its worst, depression can be a frightening, debilitating condition. Millions of people around the world live with depression. Many of these individuals and their families are afraid to talk about their struggles, and don't know where to turn for help. However, depression is largely preventable and treatable. Recognizing depression and seeking help is the first and most critical towards recovery.

In collaboration with WHO to mark World Mental Health Day 2012, writer and illustrator Matthew Johnstone tells the story of overcoming the "black dog of depression".

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