The Case Files

I’ve wanted to start a “themed” type post on the blog for a while. I’ve got a lot of series I want to do, but in all honesty, I just lack the motivation. Writing in my blog is definitely the highlight of my day, but the amount of mental energy and research some of my posts I want to write require makes me tired just thinking about it.

Well, enough complaining. It’s time to start writing some baller posts.

The Back Story

I always get super excited when celebrities or other high-profile types share their experiences with mental health. First, Bethenny (from RHoNY) aired her experiences in therapy on her show “Bethenny: Getting Married?” which made me excited because I just love her. I know some people think she’s obnoxious, but not me. I think she’s awesome.

Then, Catherine Zeta-Jones disclosed that she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and People magazine wrote a whole article about it.

Then, I read The Hunger Games. Several of the main characters struggle with mental illness and actually see a counselor in the book. I thought it was kind of progressive for a young adult novel to feature characters struggling with mental health. The ideas started swirling to start something on the blog about this.

A big soapbox issue of mine is the image of mental health. It’s viewed as taboo. Going to your therapist isn’t viewed the same as going to your doctor. It’s just not. There’s a lot of stigma. That’s why I am always so excited when successful people or admirable characters raise the profile of mental health. It gives me warm fuzzies in my heart. It makes me say things like, “Damn straight!”

So, I thought I’d profile some successful people/characters with mental health issues. I present to you, The Case Files.

Every Tuesday (unless I’m feeling frisky), I’ll write about a cool person who has had issues in mental health.

So, who is our inaugural post about?

Sir Winston Churchill

When I was depressed, I did what all nerds do when they need answers: I researched.

One day, I stumbled across a story about Winston Churchill’s struggle with depression. I was immediately intrigued. How could someone so revered and so successful have had a condition like this? I mean, he was the Prime Minister. He helped lead us out of World War II. The man had his shit on lock, people.

He was also kind of a sour puss. He was notorious for being grumpy and throwing himself into his writing. He often described his depression as “the black dog.”

His family would explain his absences and his ugly moods by saying Churchill was currently accompanied by “his black dog.”

It was when Churchill took solace in his writing that he first found the term of familiarity to describe his depression. The “black dog” was something always by his side. It was a dog though, he had to accept it and work to live with it. Rejecting it could only have made it worse.

The theories on Churchill’s reasons for depression trace back to his feelings of inferiority. Apparently, Churchill’s dad was kind of an absent douche who belittled baby Churchill and neglected him. His mom wasn’t really all that great either.

So Churchill rationalized. He said, “If I can’t be loved, I’ll be admired.”

Ambition. It’s the way a lot of us deal with our feelings of self-doubt. Turns out, it worked well for Churchill. I mean, he kind of coined the term “Winning!” long before Charlie Sheen did. He threw himself into his work with the gusto only a major, awful, no good, very bad Hitler could provide.

Churchill used his depression as a motivator to do something with his life. Rather than hole himself away for all eternity, he chose to work at it. He wrote, he got all dark and twisty, he got out, he worked on some major world-changing stuff, he repeated. He accepted where he was at. He wasn’t perfect. His temper was bad, he had a suspected drinking problem, and his relationships weren’t always fantastic. There’s no denying what accomplishments he had. Winston Churchill was a great man.

“I don’t like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through. I like to stand right back and if possible get a pillar between me and the train. I don’t like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second’s action would end everything. A few drops of desperation.” – Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

Source (1, 2, 3, 4)

What do you all think about Sir Churchill’s “black dog”?

Do you have any requests for a future Case Files post?



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Posted on by Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA Posted in Mind, The Case Files
Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA

About Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA

Hi, I’m Jen. I’m a mental health counselor newly residing in Seattle, Washington. I strongly believe in the mind-body connection as the cornerstone of my professional ideology, along with the healing possibilities of puppies, a good glass of red wine, the smell of a new book, and the importance of travel.

  • Sari14

    all the best leaders, all the best actors, writers, singers and artists were/are severely unbalanced and it has only lead to the success of their careers. While I agree with you in seeing a therapist, I also applaud those who sought art to relieve the tension too. In either scenario, I LOVE MENTAL HEALTH!!!!!!! and you :)

    • Anonymous

      Ahhh, I completely agree! That’s basically what Jesse and I talked about when I bounced this idea off of him. I’ll have stuff to write about for ages. I also agree with using art as a way to soothe the inner beast. Nothing calms me like painting. I may not be very good, but I’m definitely much happier when I’ve slapped some stuff on a canvas. I need to figure out how to do that with drums. <3 you!

  • http://www.YogaHealthForLife.com Michelle @ YogaHealthForLife

    Love the Case Files theme! It’s great to see people in the public eye that we label as ‘successful’ actually facing inner hardships like the rest of us do. And what a stellar start with Churchill. That’s incredible his depression was so persistent that it earned a name, but, also seems fitting for someone who was prone to get lost in writing.

    Maybe Frida Kahlo for an upcoming Case Files post?

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, I was really endeared to Churchill when I learned he had actually named it and spoken about it often enough that his family was familiar with it. I will put Frida into my draft posts immediately. Thanks for the suggestion, Michelle.

  • Jimmy S

    I always found it interesting that so many larger than life people also had larger than life problems / insecurities that kind of pushed them to super star status. Do you think that culturally we are more aware of this cycle now, after watching so many ‘behind the music’s, biographies etc and pop culture in general… that we have less super mega stars?

    • Anonymous

      Hi Jimmy! Yeah, I do. I also think that we’ve just become more aware through research, too. For example, a recent study was released that basically studied the personalities of a lot of super stars or people in the public eye. An interesting excerpt was where they talked about how the same personality traits that make people great politicians actually correlate with personality traits that make people more likely to be unfaithful. So, it could be no surprise that we have so many political sex scandals.
      In the same vein, I believe madness is genius. Being a little unhinged is what made people like Dali, John Nash, and Edgar Allen Poe (among many, many others) so great. Seeing (or hearing) those things others can’t.

      Thanks for reading!

  • http://tryintobeeverything.blogspot.com/ Debbie

    Winston Churchill has been popping up in my life over and over again lately! I just finished reading Rebecca Hunt’s Mr. Chartwell which is about Churchill’s depression as a black dog – interesting story and a pretty quick read if you’re interested. Love the idea of case files and I look forward to others!

    • Anonymous

      Hi Debbie!

      What a great book idea! I wish I had thought of it. Sounds like a great read, I’ll definitely have to check it out. Thanks for reading!

  • Morgan

    I recently found your blog via Julie @ peanut butter fingers and I love it! I am also a graduate student in the counseling field (school counseling) so I feel like I can relate! SO glad I found your blog! :)

    • Anonymous

      Hi Morgan! So glad you decided to visit. A lot of my favorite people in my program are on the school counseling track, so I like you already. :)

  • http://makemeatree.com/ Kayla

    Jen, I hate to comment just to point out a potential mistake but I’m confused by your reference to The Hunger Games. Did you possibly get that book title confused with another one? Unless I’m just really out of it tonight, I don’t recall anything about characters with mental illness or seeing a counselor.

    • http://www.thepursuitofsassiness.com/ Jennifer Bingaman

      Katniss sees a psychologist (he calls her on the phone at the end of the book). Her, along with Peeta, Finnick, Annie, and Haymitch all have varying forms of PTSD. Haymitch is also an addict. I guess I was speaking more of Mockingjay, but they all have typical problems that accompany living through a war. Does that line up?

      • http://makemeatree.com/ Kayla

        Ah yes! It may just be because I hadn’t read them in awhile. Also, probably because I’m not thinking of them from the perspective of a counselor, all in tune with mental faculties and such. My bad! Thanks for the clarification!

        • http://www.thepursuitofsassiness.com/ Jennifer Bingaman

          Of course! I would hope someone would take the time to ask for clarification or to correct me if I was wrong. Thank you!

      • wordmaven

        It should be She (not her), along with Peeta, etc.

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