Sunday, August 31, 2014

no one wants to be Eeyore's BFF.

I've been reading and reading and reading all of the wonderful posts about Robin Williams over the days since his death and the outpouring of love is truly amazing.  I'm so glad that, from what I've seen, people are being respectful and kind.  And the fact that this has opened up more of a dialog about mental health issues might be the one silver lining.
I've had my own battles with depression and anxiety for several years.  From high school to my early 30's I dealt with depression.  I spent a number of years on anti depressants and seeing a therapist.  And then in my mid 30's anxiety made an unwelcome appearance and I struggled to find my footing once again.

I've been lucky, incredibly lucky.  I found the right medications, dosages, doctors, and now, thankfully, I don't need the meds.  But if either depression or anxiety reared its ugly head again I would be back on those meds in a hot second.

I feel terrible for folks new to the mental health issues family (welcome!).  But not for the reasons you might think.  Yes, I feel bad that anyone has to deal with it at all but one of THE hardest parts about the whole mess is the getting help of it all.  Asking for help.  Knowing how to get help. 
Depression, anxiety, panic attacks - I believe those are all probably emotions that we all deal with from time to time.  When we have loss in our life or stress, those are natural emotions.  It's when they become chronic and debilitating that we need to seek help.  But here's the thing - seeking help, asking for help, letting others know that you need help...that's a helluva lot easier said than done!  I've read countless posts over the last few days, folks begging people to get help when they need it - but often the truth is, we ARE asking but those pleas for help are falling on deaf ears.  Not intentionally of course!  But lets face it, we are a fucking judgmental society!  We expect A LOT from our friends, family, coworkers, spouses, parents, children... and those of us who do suffer with mental health issues, we try communicating that we are struggling, we try saying "no", we try asking for help, we try!  We try in subtle ways at first, we share how stressed we are, we share how hard a time we are having getting everything done, we share how tired we are, we share how hard it is just to get out of bed, we say "its all just too much!", we come right out and say We Need Help! But most of the time, in my experience, that is perceived as everything but a plea for help.  It is seen as weakness, laziness, that we aren't trying hard enough, that we don't care, we aren't giving enough, we aren't being a good friend/child/parent/coworker.  And let me tell you, when it is taking every. last. bit. of. energy. you. have. just to get through each day and you are met with judgement ... well, it's easy to think  "what do I have to do so that anyone, someone might see how far I've have fallen?"

I've found that most friends and family think that they WANT to help, but they don't really want to hear you "whine". They don't want to hear you cry or be depressed.  It's not fun.  Who wants to be around the sad, mopey girl?  Uh, no one, that's who.  We might be depressed but we aren't dumb.  We realize when our Eeyoreness is becoming a bummer to those around us.  So we pull inside even further.  We start to lie about why we can't do stuff.  We are "sick" a lot.  And that brings up another point - sometimes you just don't want to share and that needs to be ok!  But it's not always that we don't want to share, more that we know people don't really want to hear the real answer to "how are you?".  Someone says, to your face or you hear what folks are saying though the rumor mill, "where have you been hiding?"  do you a.) say "Oh, we've just been really busy.  You know, life!"  or b.) develop diarrhea of the mouth and tell them all of the REAL reasons why you haven't been able to face the light of day in weeks.  I generally opt for option a.  And while judgey judgerson is probably thinking, "lazy bastard hermit!" they probably would be eternally grateful if they knew that they had just dodged a bullet!  The fact is, I just don't always want to tell everyone what is "really" going on but I also don't want everyone judging me for not poking my head out of my hole for weeks on end!  Maybe I don't want to tell everyone and their dog that I'm depressed because my dad has cancer, I've lost six of my precious animals in the last three years, I am suddenly the parent of a 17 year old, my dogs are all old as Methuselah, and some things even too personal to share here ...maybe I just want to say "Sorry, I have a headache."

So all I want to ask is that everyone try to love a bit more and judge a lot less.  When a friend says she can't do something don't assume it's because she's a shitty friend.  Maybe, just maybe she is struggling.  Instead of guilt tripping someone for not living up to all of your expectations maybe consider that life is rough sometimes...sometimes people are doing everything just to keep their head above water.  Maybe each time we feel disappointment or jump to judgement we should consider - hmmm, wonder if something is going on?  Maybe they have a full plate?  Maybe they are dealing with something too emotional to explain?  Maybe instead of assuming the negative we start to have a little compassion...can you just imagine what the world would be like if we all just had a little more compassion?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Did you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world?

Seriously!  Tom and I look at Seven almost daily and and tell her that she is the MOST beautiful girl in the whole wide world!  And she is.  I know she is.  I am convinced that anyone who sees her and thinks 1.) that she is a plain brown dog or 2.) that she is a HE, those folks need to get to an eye dr. stat!

Seven has always had her own idea about things.  Since she was a puppy she called the shots.  I know dog trainers everywhere are cringing, but honestly, I don't care.  She does things her way...and while it's made things challenging in her older age, it's also a pretty good indicator of how she's feeling.  
At just a couple of months shy of her 17th birthday her limbs don't work as well as they used to.  I guess since that makes her almost 119 in people years we should expect some mobility issues.  She started laser therapy a couple years ago, then began weekly acupuncture about a year ago, then twice weekly physical therapy back in February...and a couple of months ago we made the plunge and bought her some wheels (technically it's a doggie wheel chair, but we don't call it that!).  Her stubbornness has made using said wheels a bit challenging but she is finally realizing that if she wants to continue her independence then she needs to embrace the wheels!  Just yesterday she actually ran in them, barreling over a dog bed as she went!  It was fantastic!
So for those of you with an older dog, if you are lucky enough to have all of their organs in working order, there is a lot you can do to keep your baby by your side!  Just yesterday Seven's physical therapist Ross (who Seven thinks is the bee's knees!) told me he thinks she is doing better than she was when she started six months ago!  Music to my ears!

So here's the deal Seven, 
As long as you've got bright eyes, as long as you can yell at me to do your bidding, as long as you flip and flail to avoid a snuggle, as long as you kiss my face, as long as you continue to be the most stubborn person I know, then it will continue to fight to keep you by my side for as long as I possibly can!
I love you baby girl!