I debated writing this. I’m not sure if I’ll even post it. It makes me feel weak. And I’m afraid of being judged. But, since it is the time of “removing the stigma,” I’ll try to join in.
I’ve been depressed.
I have always been good at talking myself out of being sad. I’ve also been guilty of wishing people around me would just “walk it off.” Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that it’s more complicated than that. But, still when you are on the outside looking in, it’s hard to get it. But, I get it now.
I got it when I couldn’t talk myself out of being sad. Or when it took everything in me to get out of bed or get dressed or just face the day. I got it when my chest felt tight with anxiety and my tummy felt sick.
You see, I have had a traumatic handful of months. There have been a lot of financial issues; some of them seemed insurmountable. But, thanks to friends and family, we have made it through and we’re still here.
But, it was around that time that it started to shift. I started to feel hopeless. I started to feel like it would never get better. These feelings would come and go. I didn’t think too much of it because who wouldn’t be down when things are rough?
Then, at the end of April, we took a family trip. I was trying desperately to bring about an emotional change for all of us and reconnect us. And in a lot of ways, it worked. But, the morning after we came back, we found out that our dog had gotten lost at my friend’s house. She was famous for leaving yards if given the opportunity.
Thankfully, the next day, we did find her. But she was basically never the same after. We already knew that her time was nearing the end due to a cancerous lump on her leg. Although, they recommended having it removed, there was a definite “it’s basically pointless” vibe to it. 😦 Either way, she deteriorated quickly after her adventures and we soon found ourselves putting her down. It was a no brainer as she could barely even walk but it still was hard.
As I struggled to find peace with that, within a handful of days, my Frank got sick with what seemed to just be a bad cold and passed within a couple of days.
I had made a vet appointment and was set to head in the next morning but he didn’t make it through the night. I swear I had no idea that he was that close and struggle to live with the regret that I didn’t take him in as soon as he seemed to not feel well.
Meanwhile, I started fostering dogs and cats (from the shelter) like crazy, in an effort to do good but also to fill the void. Captain came first before we lost Frank and we soon decided that he had to stay.
Many foster kittens came after.
And soon came Carly.
She was severly underweight and had a fractured pelvis. She was super happy and affectionate. And after a few days, she didn’t seem to be in any pain. Then the day before hurricane Irma, I lost one of the foster kittens. Although, it was heartbreaking, it was not surprising because, sadly, kittens sometimes don’t make it. What I didn’t expect was to lose Carly a couple hours later.
She had been chilling in a bedroom. She came out into the hallway and she was in clear distress. She was struggling to breathe and was weak. I held her, called an emergency vet (after Brian found one for me) and panicked. While I was still on hold, she passed in my arms. I didn’t know how to deal with it. I still don’t. I tried to remember that we didn’t know her history and she could’ve had more wrong with her than they even knew yet. I tried to take comfort in the fact that her last couple weeks were filled with love and food. But, it left me with an irrational fear (which seemed painfully valid) that every animal was going to die around me.
I woke up at night and made sure everyone was alive. I completely panicked when one of my sweet doggie visitors had an upset stomach. (It was just an upset stomach. It happens and he’s fine.) I walked around with a constant feeling of hopelessness and fear. I felt (well, feel) like I was a terrible version of King Midas.
Through it all, everyone was so kind and compassionate. So thank you to those people who already knew this story and were the kind and compassionate ones. 🙂 It was comforting but as the days passed, my sadness grew. At this point, I was aware that I was struggling. But, I didn’t want to say anything. Everyone has problems and everyone who has had a pet, or loved an animal, has likely experienced the pain of losing one. We all suffer.
Then one day, I got a message from a friend. I don’t know her all that well, but I’ve liked her from the beginning. She wanted me to call her. I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. But, I’m sure glad I did.
She shared some of her painful animal loss stories and it was clear that she could relate to what I was feeling. In the end, she explained that she ultimately took antidepressants to get through. Her story validated my feelings and made me realize it was ok to seek help. So I did.
It took a week or so to get into the doctor, but I did.
I was nervous. I felt like he would think I was just looking for an easy fix. (Which to be fair, I was, haha) I asked around and prepared my code words so I would seem legitimately depressed. It wasn’t because I was trying to work the system or anything like that. Considering medication was not a decision I casually made. But, I was convinced that he wouldn’t take me seriously or I wouldn’t properly explain what was going on in my head so I prepared.
He came in. I explained. I reassured him that he didn’t have to baker act me or anything but that, yes, I was feeling hopeless. (I tend to make jokes when I’m stressed.) Before I knew it, I had a prescription for Zooloft and a list of recommended counselors.
The next morning, I took my first pill. I actually started to feel better, pretty quickly. I wasn’t sure if it was partially a placebo effect but when it came down to it, I didn’t really care. I was getting myself back.
As the days passed, I felt the cloud lifting. I felt better to cope and was able to think about the dogs that I had lost with some happiness, instead of just pain. But, one of the best effects was the patience I had for the kids and my sudden ability to enjoy them again. The kids even noticed and commented on my good mood.
All my problems are still here and my beloved dogs are still gone, but I feel like I can cope again. And that is just plain awesome.
One of my favorite recent pictures is this candid. I hate candids and my friend has a history of taking awful ones of me. But, I like this one. I like my genuine smile. I hadn’t seen it for awhile. 🙂
But, because life doesn’t end at the end of the episode and you never know when tragedy will strike again. It has. Last Sunday, (well, a couple of Sundays ago now) as we were getting ready for church, our dog, Wilfred suddenly died.
(This is brand new information to almost everybody.) I can barely explain what happened. He got up, went potty, and I fed him as always. He gobbled his food, as always. I put him in the laundry room for a few minutes because I was trying to feed other dogs and I knew he would take their food. Usually, I put him in the bedroom but Brian was still sleeping and I knew Wilfred would start whining. And he did. I heard him whine from the laundry room and I told him to be quiet. (That will haunt me forever.) A few minutes later, when I opened the door, I realized he had an “accident,” a stinky one. I was annoyed. Then I looked at him and realized he was laying down and was not very responsive. This time, I didn’t hesitate. We got him loaded into the van and I was throwing my shoes on when William called to me and said it was too late. Just like that, in a matter of minutes. Our best guess is that his stomach flipped which, apparently, is common in big dogs who gobble their food. All I know is he’s gone.
And, just like that, I was lost again.
I am struggling with this the most because it makes zero sense. None at all.
I coincidently, had a follow up appointment at the doctor, a few days later. Part of me wanted to ask him for all the medication. But, I reminded myself that I should be sad. Something sad had happened. So I didn’t.
So I’m trying to figure out a way to accept something that is just not acceptable. And reassure myself that I’m not actually cursed. When you have a lot of pets, you’re going to eventually lose a lot of pets. That’s just science. But, it’s extra unfair when it happens all at once. And all the logic in the world doesn’t heal a broken heart. But, I’ve heard that time does.
So, I will take the time that I need because I can’t fast forward it, no matter how I wish I could. I will apparently continue to wake up and check on animals. And I will see Wilfred’s death and hear his cries whenever I close my eyes or have a moment to think. But, I will also focus on the good in my life. And I will definitely give the kids extra hugs because they loved him, too.
My point of this post was not really to tell you my sad story despite the fact that it turned into that. It was partly to give a thank you to those who helped me through and helped me to feel better.
But, also, it was to say that people get depressed. Some people get sad and work through it. Some people need extra help to work through it. And, sadly, some people get extra help and still struggle.
I’m grateful that my struggle seems to be temporary. But, I know that I would be much worse off without by new bff, zooloft. 😉 I don’t want to make light of it. It’s a helper, not a solution. And, not necessarily for everybody. But, the point is this…
Don’t be ashamed. You don’t have to put out a super depressing blog post that I’m still not sure that I have the nerve to post. But, if you need help, get it if you can. Don’t suffer if you don’t have to. Talk to a counselor. Take medication if you need it and it’s right for you. But, don’t be ashamed that you need help. We all need help sometimes.
There’s so much to life that is worth enjoying,
Remove the stigma,. We are all human. Let’s be human together.