Last week I had to say goodbye to my best friend Sweep. If you have been a follower of this blog or my YouTube channel in the past, then you will no doubt know all about my fluffy little man. We have had Sweep as a huge part of our family for the past fifteen years, and got him when he was just two years old! Losing such a huge part of my life has been horrific, and as someone who has been lucky enough to never have really experienced grief of anyone in my immediate family, I must say that I have not really been sure how to deal with it. Because that is exactly how I considered Sweep, he was more than just an animal, he was one of our family and gave us all so much joy simply by being a part of it.
Over the past fifteen years things have changed massively, and Sweep was even around before I stopped having contact with my biological father – something that most people cannot claim as that was an awfully long time ago! He never liked my Dad, and would always growl and back away from him. I swear that dog was like a personal sensor for douchebags – we could’ve rented him out to single ladies on the pull and made a fortune!
But I digress, point being he was the most loving and well natured dog I have ever encountered in my life. He was tolerant of children – no matter how hyper or annoying they could be. Which was extremely lucky for me as child Emmie used to enjoy putting his fur into ponytails and dressing him up like a baby! But he never snapped or growled, he was just happy to be spending time with you and was more than happy to do whatever, as long as he was nearby.
I suffer with bipolar disorder and the highs and lows that come with it. Remember those annoyingly hyper children I was just talking about? Unluckily for Sweep, that meant that this was a personality trait for me way up into my late teens and even early twenties. But he was still more than happy to be held as we danced around the living room, or I climbed a climbing rope with him under one arm as he looked on confused. I loved that little dog, and I know that he loved us all equally in return.
The depression that comes with bipolar disorder is crippling. It is more than just sadness, it is more than just hopelessness, it feels like there is nothing. Nothing left in the entire world, and that even taking your next breath is pointless. I feel alone. I feel broken. I feel worthless. And I feel unlovable. Sweep could always see these moods coming on even before I did somehow, and would always be sure to position himself close to me so that he would be nearby if I needed him. Sometimes just having someone with you is enough to get you through the next minute, and through to the next. Talking isn’t necessary sometimes, and having him there to cuddle up to me made me feel like at least somebody needed me.
Things often took a much darker turn when my moods plummeted like this and when I was (mainly) in my late teens, I would often engage in self harm to help myself to cope with everything going on inside my head. I never, ever performed any of this behaviour in front of anyone else as it was an extremely personal experience to me, one in which I felt like I had failed in my life by having to rely upon it in the first place.
However, I recall one time when I had come home for the holidays from university, my then boyfriend had travelled home to see his family and I was home alone while my parents were out at work. Sweep was in another room, and I had taken the opportunity of being alone like this to get some of the pain out. I began my ritual of unpacking my “tools” from the box I always kept nearby carefully selecting the items I felt that I needed. When I finally had everything laid out in front of me neatly as I always did and took the deconstructed razor in my hand, all I remember seeing through the tears was that white fluffy figure jump up onto my knee and start licking the tears from my cheeks. He wouldn’t move and just waited until I stopped sobbing, when he eventually curled up next to me and we both fell asleep. I’m not suggesting that anything more severe would have happened that day, but thanks to my little guy, I have a few less scars on my body than I would have had if he had not been there that day.
As he came to the end of his life, Sweep had really started to show the signs of old age. He never suffered, don’t get me wrong, but he could no longer see or hear and he was struggling to stand up for long periods of time. His sense of smell had all but gone and we practically had to hand feed him so he could find his food bowl. It was a shame, but he gave everyone so much joy that they were more than happy to help him in any way that they could. Sweep always went everywhere with my Mum, after I moved out and she would come to visit me in my new place, Sweep would always be in the car with her whether she had just been out running errands or had been to work.
By the end, it was the nicest thing we could do to give our Sweepie a peaceful and painless end and as he drifted off to sleep in our arms I could see the stress and pain leave his face. He looked so peaceful and happy as he lay there. Although he may not be here physically, I always carry his collar around with me and cuddle up with his blanket at night while I watch the television when I get home from work – as well as greeting his box of ashes on the table when I go to visit my mum. It may seem silly to some people, but it’s how I can cope with losing my best friend. I don’t necessarily believe in heaven, but I do believe that wherever my little Sweepie is now, he isn’t struggling anymore. So thank you Sweep, for the best fifteen years of my life. You saved me in so many ways and stayed by my side when most people deserted me. I hope you are happy and free wherever you may be, and I’ll see you soon little man. I promise, I’ll bring you some chicken up with me when I get there!