My Mental Health Since Losing my Dog


Whoever said diamonds are a girls best friend never owned a dog

Photo 21-12-2015, 07 56 18
I have never written a post, or really ever gone into depth with anyone, about my mental health so I should probably give you some background information. I grew up in a lone parent household, an only-child with one cousin who lives on the other side of the world. I was always around adults, and as a result also exposed to the harsh realities of life: I definitely wasn’t an only-child who was wrapped in cotton wool. Because it was only my mom and I, we were always together, so wherever she went, I went too. I suppose that is the main reason I was always around adults, because I went wherever my mom went. When I got to eleven years old, we got our black Labrador, Myles. It was a dream of mine, to have a black lab, ever since I was a little girl and my mom finally agreed we could get one. There’s actually a super old post here stating how we got Myles, here.
Photo 06-02-2015, 20 56 10Photo 30-08-2014, 13 11 46Last year we had to have Myles put down, I mentioned the details a bit more in my Autumn post. It was heartbreaking, to say the least. I’d never felt heartache like I did that day, in that vets room. Feeling his body still, his fur cool down, and his eyes slowly drift shut was the most helpless I have ever felt. It felt like a piece of me had died with him that day and after that it was harder to function.I’m sure some people would find it hard grasping these intense emotions that I went through from losing my dog -because to some people it’s just a dog. That’s not the case for me. Myles was so much more than a dog, or even a part of the family. He was my saviour –quite literally. When I became ill I had to give up everything, and I mean everything. With that, I lost a sense of purpose. My identity and who I was, had vanished, and life didn’t have any meaning. I became severely depressed, I left notes for my family, and my mom feared leaving the house because she didn’t know what she would be coming home to. Yes, it got that bad. But there was one thing through it all that kept me going -Myles. He gave me a purpose.Photo 29-04-2018, 22 20 38Photo 29-08-2017, 13 00 21
When it came time to have him put down, I’d say I was somewhat prepared. It wasn’t a surprise and we knew it was time to go through with it but that didn’t make it less harder. I walked in that vets office with my best friend and came out without him and half of me missing. The first week was hard but I suppressed the grief to get through an important uni assignment. Around eight to ten weeks later, I had my next big assignment and that was when I crumbled. I was burnt out but I was also emotionally drained. I couldn’t complete my assignment and so I had to forget about that and everything else, and just take a moment for me.

Christmas and all the preparations leading up to it, kept me going, They kept my spirits high and upcoming plans gave me something to focus on. I was studying the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at the time, subject matters that I really enjoyed: which definitely helped my mental state. This enjoyment filled some of the hollowness within me. Another thing which helped around this point was taking our other dogs out. I had been trying to make the most of the daylight hours a bit more, and help my mom get them some decent exercise, so seeing our other dogs, Vinnie and Alfie, get out really helped. I think it wasn’t just seeing them run around and simply getting fresh air that helped, but also the fact that even in such a low mental state, I could still be of use to my mom.
Photo 21-12-2015, 07 56 41
Christmas came and went, and I had enjoyed myself far more than I had anticipated. Then came Dooms day: Myles’ birthday on New Years Eve. Every year we would cook a meaty Pukka Pie, let it cool down, pop a candle in the top and then sing him Happy Birthday. I was supposed to be going out on New Years Eve with my best friends and boyfriend however, I came down with a sickness bug the day before and my boyfriend came down with the beginnings of a major cold/ear infection so that was bye-bye to our plans. Instead we ate Chinese food and watched the fireworks on telly. Even though it didn’t work out as planned, it still kept me occupied and kept my mind off Myles.

January and February were a bit more tricky, especially January. There was a period of time lasting about three or four weeks where it was really hard and I kind of withdrew from a lot going on around me. I needed to wallow. I was studying like crazy, budgeting like an accountant, trying to stay on top of my health, I kept mysteriously throwing up, and really just wanted to curl up constantly because I didn’t have my best friend by my side to keep me going. One day I mistakenly called one of our other dogs Myles which caused an avalanche of tears for the rest of the day. Emptiness overwhelmed me once again and I was gone. What didn’t help around this time, was that I was also experiencing some awful mood swings from my contraceptive pill which didn’t help my mood or anyone around me. Seriously, I became a monster in January -ask my boyfriend!
Photo 17-05-2016, 12 25 31Photo 27-05-2017, 11 27 13
March was a brighter note for me. My boyfriends birthday kept me going and I also started to realise how ‘bonded’ I was with our other dogs around this point. Alfie, our red lab, loves coming in my room as soon as I’m awake. He curls up on a blanket on my bed, while I have my morning tea and start working – while Vinnie, our brown labradoodle, curls up in the sliver of space beside my bed and conks out for the day. Although, they’ll never fill the hole that Myles left, I started to realise that the bond I have with them is also filled with love but in an entirely different way to Myles. I also read the book Make Your Bed (read review here) which had a profound effect on me and really changed my perspective on so many areas of my life. It made me really accept the bad things I was going through and definitely helped confront some passed demons head on.

When I say demons, these weren’t ‘end of the world problems‘ but they somehow felt so much bigger and harder to deal with, at the time, because I didn’t have my best friend by my side anymore. There is something so incredibly soothing about having a furry friend around you through tough days – it’s pet therapy. 

As we come to the close of April, the sixth month without my best friend, I feel as though I can finally exhale a huge breath and say ‘I’m doing Ok’. I know that each day will vary and there will be things or memories which hit me hard without him but I also know that ultimately, I have everything I need to survive within me: as well as some amazing people around me to help if I reach for it. 

Cheerio for now!

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