I’ve always known that my “mental health issues” started when my dog – Willow – died in 2008. Despite one inpatient assessment that I was “probably depressed as a child”, I know that my life changed forever that day in April.
Now, after enduring psychiatrists, therapists, meds, inpatient care, and ECT I have to admit little has changed. I spent the years between 2008 and 2015 absolutely convinced that I did not want another dog, that I could not love another like Wil. My family, especially my mom, implored me over the years to reconsider. Nope.
But, like many things, the decision was eventually taken out of my hands. Last September, a week after getting out of the hospital again, my sister and others presented me with an 8 week old GSP that I call Blue. I was coming off the high that ECT causes and really don’t remember feeling imposed upon. I had to try and unscramble my brain enough to plan for an unplanned major change in my life. The first weeks and months were so difficult because I couldn’t remember raising my previous dogs and it felt like I was having to figure it all out again. It took over a month before I remembered I still had a crate, which finally allowed me to relax and sleep because inside her crate she was safe.
As precious as she was and is, I could not allow myself to fully accept her and at one point I remember telling my T that I was just trying not to come off as an ungrateful bitch. I had a lot of anxiety about her safety. Every walk through the woods was potentially the day I would fuck up and she would be killed. It has taken most this last year for me to feel that internal shiver of joy and admit that I truly love her.
Not as many dangers lurk now waiting for me to screw up. She has grown into a healthy and happy pup and my anxiety has lessened a bit. I can better tolerate those times when she goes off on her own or with her cousins to explore the woods for a bit and not suffer from anxiety-induced chest pain like I used to.
Last week my T – “D” told me that when I first started seeing him that I swore i’d “never love another dog” and he always believed that was untrue. Fair enough, I’ve been proven wrong, but he said it with an air of “i told you so” and it pissed me off. I told him that I had recently discovered that Blue is hypersensitive to bee stings and that I now carry injectable Benadryl and epinephrine every where we go. As usual, even though I am prepared to act if she gets stung again, my anxiety is raging and our daily walks are potentially deadly. But she must be walked and allowed to burn up some of the amazing energy she has for her to be happy. I tried to express the fear I have and the knowledge I have that should she die (of any cause) before I think it’s time that I will follow her in death. That it feels like that will be my automatic response. He responded to this truth by telling me about people he has known who have suffered unexpected or unthinkable loss-like the 3 year old who bled to death after having her tonsils out while she slept between her parents or the woman whose husband of 3 months died of a heart attack. I honestly did not get the point he was trying to make and ended up griping that yes, I know bad things happen, but that doesn’t help me with my anxiety. I remember what Wil’s death did to me and I am afraid I will be forced to live through that again. I’m afraid I won’t die. Doc