Marlyse Carroll - author, artist and facilitator

The Brighter the Light, The Darker the Shadow

The Brighter the Light,
The Darker the Shadow

I recently came across an excellent YouTube that uses the imagery of a black dog to represent depression.

It’s just four minute long and worth watching, even if you’ve already come across this concept:

I feel that this subject is particularly relevant at this time of the year. So close to Christmas, the general emphasis is on loving connections, close family ties, a joyful day spent with loved ones, gifts, generosity and gratitude.


Yet many people experience the opposite. As the hype increases, they notice more and more acutely their loneliness. The lack of love in their life. The void created by absent or deceased relatives, family feuds or aloofness. And their black dog grows accordingly.

Whether they take responsibility or not, they hurt. They’re likely to feel disconnected, left out and forgotten. Unloved and maybe even unworthy.

I know. I’ve been there. Exactly 21 years ago I spent a Christmas day alone, crying my heart out, feeling abandoned by the whole world!

One of the darkest times in my life.

Yet what a major turning point that fateful day proved to be. The pain melted away my mask of self-sufficiency. The facade that shouted ‘I don’t need anyone’ crumbled under the weight of loneliness.

And I opened my heart to other people in distress like never before.

Years later, Michael and I worked as voluntary counsellors for Crisis Line. And year after year we chose to take shifts on Christmas day.

Did you know that, on this particular day, which is meant to be merry, help lines ring non stop? Often, queues of callers wait their turn to pour their heart out.

Yes, just like spirituality in general, Christmas isn’t all about love and light either!

In fact, as one of my spiritual teachers used to say, “The brighter the light, the darker the shadow”.


So please spare a thought for people who might be alone this Christmas. People whose family structure has just collapsed, as mine did in 1992. Lonely people who feel lost and are too proud to ask for help – as I was in those days.

If you suspect you know someone in such a situation, why not invite them to be part of your celebrations?

After all, isn’t kindness what Christmas is really about?

And now, if you feel so inclined, please leave a message in the comment box below. Any thought, feeling or experience you would like to share about the Black dog of Christmas?

As a conclusion, thank you for reading this blog.

I wish you and your loved ones a Joyful, Peaceful and Loving Christmas!


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