Last Week I Lost my Best Friend: Losing Pets

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!

 

Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin!

It is human nature to want to take advantage of every single exciting opportunity that comes our way. After all, you’re a long time dead aren’t you so you might as well make the most of your one shot at existence right? Well yeah, and that’s a good attitude to have…most of the time. The important thing to remember is that we are only human and we need to remember that we actually have limits! As much as I like to convince myself I am Wonder Woman…sadly I am not – I don’t look half as good in Lycra!

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I know that most of my audience, especially on my YouTube channel, are a lot younger than me and so I think that you maybe might have the same attitude towards education as me. When I was at school, more was always better! Academically, I did quite well but this was in no means a natural thing – I worked my arse off to get the A’s and A*’s that I left with. But I almost killed myself trying!

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I took on extra subjects and extracurricular activities that I thought would help me be better wherever I could, despite the warnings of my teachers that I might be taking on too much. Just to give you an example of my stupidity in this way – I was advised to take three A Levels at sixth form, I came out with 7 qualifications. Fucking 7!! I took on Theatre Studies, Performing Arts, Sociology, Psychology, English Language, Critical Thinking and an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification). I mean really? Was there any need?

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Now, of course I am proud of myself and I guess it looks good on the CV however I put myself in a very vulnerable and stressful position when I was only 17. I should have put my mental health first and learnt to set realistic goals for myself to achieve. I have always craved affirmation that what I am doing is the right thing, and that has meant that age has meant authority to me – which is a load of crap but this is how my mind has worked.

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I would love to say that I have completely gotten over this obsession to be perfect and take on everything and anything that comes my way, but of course I would be lying to your faces! However! I have gotten better, a lot better actually. My diary has really helped me, actually my diaries have really helped me – I have so many. I use my main one which I carry around everywhere with me in my handbag, my phone, my mini organiser and several planners and calendars dotted around my house – my bedroom, living room even the kitchen on the fridge.

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It may seem a little overkill, however it is all to help me to remember all that I have already taken on so that I can see what I can realistically complete. I still suck at saying no to things, but now I’m getting a little better at managing my time so that everything that I want to do actually gets done….eventually.

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Unhelpful Festive Social Comparisons

It is officially Christmas in less than a week and so we are officially in the full swing of things now as we count down the days. Christmas comes with many things, sending Christmas cards and gifts (often to people you never say two words to at any other time of the year!), carolling, and more importantly to this blog – comparing ourselves to everyone who matters!

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During Christmas time being with lots of people is inevitable and so it is human nature that we are going to start to compare ourselves and our achievements to those of those people around us. There are of course those lovely people (usually older family members, or the less sympathetic parents) that feel it is their duty to highlight just how well our second cousin Ginny is doing in her new six figure jet setting career on the other side of the world… But I think that we can all agree, that this kind of social comparison is just simply not helpful nor healthy!

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As much as I would love to have the perfect life that I have spent my life dreaming up and concocting inside my head, simply put I don’t. I definitely do not have that perfect life. If six year old Emmie were to look at my life now then she would sit and sob for hours after locking herself in the bathroom….(I did that a lot, sorry Mum!). But that doesn’t mean that my life isn’t a happy one!

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Sure, there are down sides (lots) and there are always going to be negative periods and people in my life that only want to bring me down or make me miserable (plenty this year thank you very much 2016!) but I am proud of the life I am living. This time last year, thanks to my anxiety I could not be left alone in a room for more than a few minutes without panicking and either reaching for the phone or going to find someone to sit with me. I was stuck in relationships and friendships that were doing nothing but drain me and was generally miserable.

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But now? I am living alone and renting my own place where I pay my own bills. I have my own car and have a gorgeous bunny called Gimli and adorable little tortoise called Flash to take care of. Point is, life is what you make it and despite the shit storm of naff-ness that has descended my life in 2016 I have certainly made the best of it which I something that I am keeping in mind when others start to make these pesky comparisons.

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No matter what people tell you about other people in your life remember this, you have a long and unpredictable life ahead of you and this is certainly not “it” for you! There is plenty of time left for you to do whatever you want to do. As cringey and cliché as it may appear there is an awful lot of truth in it! As long as you have a goal of what you want to achieve, it doesn’t mean that you’ve failed if you aren’t already there. So hey, when good old Granny is boasting about your lovely older cousin Jeff, why not be happy for him and raise a glass? After all, it could be your successes that she’s doing everybody’s tits in with next year…

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Those Nights I Don’t Want to be Alone

Usually, I am someone who really enjoys the peace and quiet of living alone. Of course there are times when I get lonely and miss the hustle and bustle of my family home consisting of my grandparents, mum and me as well as our many pets. But ever since moving out and living alone, I absolutely love having my own space. It means that I can wander round in my scruffs with my hair scraped back without make up or fear for destroying the sanity of any poor house mates. I can sing along to the soundtrack of my emo teenage years without fearing judgement from family members. But, and perhaps most enjoyably, I can stroll around my house naked. I love that clothes are optional – and although I can’t afford to put my heating on, and so clothes are well advised in my house, there is definitely a certain freedom in knowing that I don’t have to be wearing them. But I digress…

Unsurprisingly, this post is not going to be about my new and exciting voyage into the world of naturism, it’s a tad darker unfortunately. Depression is a bitch and although I seem to have the “smile and wave like everything is fine” in public thing down, when I am behind closed doors it is a little different. Unfortunately for me, tonight is one of those nights. If you yourself suffer with depression then I am sure you understand what “those nights” means, and am truly sorry you are able to empathise with me here. But if do, you know the nights that I am talking about.

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These are the nights where you come home and lock your door with the days fake smile still on your face as you lock up behind you. Staring at your key in the lock for a few minutes in silence, without moving, you finally break. Nights where you end up on the kitchen floor, sobbing, and I really do mean properly sobbing. Incomprehensible noises and attempts at words in regards to what has gone wrong. About everything that is currently going wrong, or could do in the future. You gasp for breath and try and clutch at what remains of your sanity as you weep for what is wrong with you, the world and everything around you.

You cry for everything that you just can’t deal with and panic at the sheer volume of that list. You feel like a failure. Like you make life worse for other people and start to question your own worth and reasons for existence. What if I wasn’t here? Who would actually miss me? I’d probably make a lot of people happier if I were just not around to complicate their lives any further right? These thoughts become louder and more dominant the more you try to drown them out until you are forced to cope with them the only way you know how.

This situation ends in one of two ways: you finally give into the almost instinctive urge to cause pain to remove pain. You feel disappointed in yourself for falling back into old habits, old coping mechanisms that you know deep down you can no longer allow yourself to rely on. As the blood and tears run your breathing slows and your hysteria begins to lessen – you have simply exhausted yourself with such emotion. Or, you take deep, exhausted, shuddering breaths as you silently cry yourself to sleep, where the nightmares and flashbacks can take a hold once more.

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The next day you awaken to a pillow stained with blood and tears. You wake in a cold sweat with a sore neck and a throbbing headache and are just searching for a way to make it stop. But you have to go to work/school/whatever, you know that you can’t. You’re tired, but not sleepy, you’re just tired of pretending and exhausted from promising that you’re “okay, honestly” when inside you’re slowly dying. So you get up, you get washed and dressed before standing in front of the mirror. You practice your fake smile one last time to attempt to convice yourself that you’re happy. It doesn’t work, but you walk out that door wearing it anyway where the world is none the wiser.

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I hope none of you understood the little detour my mind just took as that would mean you feel or have felt how this feels and I don’t want that. I’m struggling tonight, again, and so thought I’d try and write something to give myself a chance of understanding myself. I’m not sure I do, but here goes. Hope you’re well. All my love. x

Thoughts from the Edge of Mania…

As most of you will know if you follow this blog regularly, I suffer with bipolar type two and all of the joys that come alongside this wondrous condition (!) The majority of the time when I tell people that I have bipolar, their instant reaction is to talk about how wonderful mania must be, and quite understandably, I have to try very hard to bite my tongue. No part of this condition is “fun” or “easy”, and if I had to choose a state to remain in forever, it would honestly be depression.

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I know that sounds ridiculous to most people, why would I want to be depressed? Of course nobody wants to be, but if the situation called for me to choose then I would. Mania is horrible. It isn’t just bouncing around on a cloud, happy and excited for everything that will come at you that day. Most of the time when I am manic I am certainly not in a happy mood. Mania means that you feel everything far too intensely. Thoughts are coming at you at a hundred miles an hour so that you are thinking everything and nothing at the same time without having the brain power to focus in on one particular thought.

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I feel creative, like I want to do all these wonderful things, and obviously creating content for my YouTube channel and blog is high up on this list. However, I have all these thoughts and ideas for what I could do, but no focus to actually follow through with them. I either sit staring at a blank page or (as I am doing now) sit and furiously vent at my laptop typing at a hundred miles an hour with no concept of whether any of this crap makes sense – I do apologise if not!

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Currently, I am not happy. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not especially unhappy (for once!), however this lack of specific emotion is certainly not giving me a drive for any of this pent up…something. I don’t know, honestly, there is no word for what is going on inside my head, I just know that whatever it is I need to get it out!

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So far tonight I have tried to watch six movies but lost interest in every one thanks to my concentration being all but none existent when I am like this. I have tried to read several times as this can sometimes quieten my thoughts, but I haven’t managed to get past five pages without my eyes wandering off to something more interesting, or being consumed by a new and exciting “none thought”.

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I even tried to go for a walk, which in itself is very unusual for me as I don’t normally move unless there is either food or imminent death involved, but I just ended up staring at a teenager in the distance who was repeatedly kicking a can and thinking to myself “if he carries on I’m taking his bastard foot”! So before I caused any actual bodily harm, I took myself back inside.

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Currently? I am sat on my bed with my duvet scrunched at my feet. I have my hair tied straight back because if it’s in my face then I won’t stop playing with it, mainly giving myself a hair moustache and thinking I’m hilarious… It’s a good job I live alone really isn’t it? I thought that I would give myself the opportunity to write something, anything! And although I have a book full of blog and video ideas downstairs, I knew damn well that I wouldn’t be able to focus enough to do them justice. I’ve worked hard on creating the plans for those projects and I don’t want to ruin them by writing some drivel like this instead!

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This post has taken me forty five minutes to complete, and it is currently 649 words long. I typed so much more….oh so much more! But even in this state of idiocy and manic thought jumping, I still have a little bit of pride left which insists I at least proof read it once before posting. Trust me, an awful lot has been cut from this, I hope that enough of this makes sense. As I say, if it doesn’t I apologise, but I want to post things that I have written during the various stages of my bipolar, whether that be hypomania or depression, as it think that it is important to give an honest representation of the condition and how it isn’t as easy to deal with as some might think. I can’t just pop a pill and be okay. They help me to cope, but there is no cure for this kind of screwed up unfortunately. I hope you’ve had a good day, and to future (and more calm and normal Emmie) I sincerely hope you are not cringing too much reading this and that it makes sense to you – but I insist that you do not delete it!

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