A Pet is for Life….
Recently while in China, I saw the most ridiculous of sights :
Clearly, this pampered pooch was, perhaps pampered a little too much (?)
The title of this article though has a distinct duplicitous meaning.
It seemed this image in my memory, tied in by the slenderest of threads to a text conversation with one of my dearest mates.
For the last 6 -12 months my friend, who I’ll refer to as Tom, has been suffering with terrible sleep problems due to pressures of work and possibly his own very high expectations of himself and an admirable ethic for work.
In text, I had “borrowed” Winston Churchill’s description for his depression as his “Black Dog”. Tom remarked that the trouble’s he was having with sleep would probably go in cycles and that he felt it was probably his current employment that was due to his problems with sleep. Tom was positive, insofar as the change of employment would probably “kick his sleep issues in to touch” for good.
Tom then said that he hoped the “black dog” would not be with me forever and that normality would resume soon. It was then that I replied to Tom, and said “I’m afraid this “pet” is for life.
You see, I have realized in myself that over the last 9 months or more I have been on a steady decline into darkness, and I’m getting used to it. To a point where I feel it’s changing my personality and character, and those changes aren’t all bad !!! Don’t misunderstand me, when i am highly stressed and/or depressed I can be horrid. And it seems I am most horrid to the ones that love me the most.
So one might ask the question, am I happy to be sad (?!?!) Well, it might sound an absurd question but maybe it’s not (?) I have written that, on balance, given my love for music and writing, and my belief that I would likely not be able to do what I do, without the “gift” of depression, then yes I would choose to be as I am.
As I have talked about recently, that’s actually rather selfish to some degree, because those around me also suffer when I am down.
To some extent though the last two statements are academic. You see, i expect to always have my “Black Dog”. Sometimes he will be asleep, and at other times it will be as if he has eaten too many “Skittles”! This causes “him” to rattle around my skull causing havoc and confusion and mis-direction, and extreme sadness, and behaviour that I am not proud of.
NOW, again, please don’t misunderstand me, I take full responsibility for my actions. My illness is no excuse for the terrible things that I have done and I will not hide behind that.
I did write of “tough love” in a blog for another site some time ago.
However in the context of this article I refer to the fact that I and I alone, must face this challenge and monitor my own behaviour. I won’t always be quick enough to stop my sharp tongue, or to read that email before I hit the blasted “send” button……..BUT I HAVE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. My problems are my problems and, given my 50 years of life, by now I can no longer delegate my poor behaviour to an illness.
This is called TOUGH SELF LOVE….because I actively draw myself to account for my actions.
I am a fierce advocate for people suffering with depression and mental health issues, and part of that advocacy is the fact that “WE” may have this illness, and this illness will not be the same for everyone, BUT, each of US, as adult human beings also has a responsibility to ourselves, our loved ones, society and to the process of learning.
This statement may not win too many votes of popularity, but, sometimes, we all need to hear the brutal truth, ME INCLUDED.
So, whether your “pet” is one that is “boarding with you temporarily” or one that has been with you for many years, it’s your responsibility to keep “it” in check and if you can’t, that’s OK, BUT, you have to realise this and get off your arse and read and learn and find help from professionals. For the sake of the ones you love, don’t load them with that responsibility. I am not saying that you shouldn’t talk about the challenges you face, but get professional help.
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