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!

 

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Blogmas 2: 8 Gift Ideas for Someone with Depression

As someone who suffers with depression myself, I have a few ideas when it comes to gift giving to us black dog owners! Although they will not, of course, apply to everyone, I think that these are my list of ideas that I think could be the most beneficial and enjoyable by the larger portion of people. Hope you like them!

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  1. Happiness Journal/Record Book
    Over the years I have found that journaling can be oh so beneficial, and being able to vent is great when you are having a crappy day. Also, when you are having a good day then it is awesome to have a record of that for you to look back on in the future. I recommend this One Line a Day: A Five Year Memory Book, it pretty much does what it says on the tin and is an awesome way of remembering the important moments of your life – even if you do have to learn to keep it brief! Get yours here.51fq-w9eq7l-_ac_us160_
  1. Photo Album/Frame
    This is a great way to immortalise your memories together which can help your loved one to deal with their lower moods by having something to remember that someone loves them a lot. Having a tool to force you to remember the happy times can be really useful. Get this super cute one here.41iq6ksqsdl-_ac_us160_
  2. Scented oils or sleep mist
    Depression can often make sleep very unlikely or at least difficult to achieve! I have found essential oils or sleep mists so useful in helping me finally get some rest. Personally, I think that this sleep oil roller is a life saver. I use it throughout the night, and it really helps me if I am struggling to keep me calm meaning that I get slowly closer to sleep before I actually get into bed. Click here to find yours.buddybox-ad-4
  3. Buddy Box – individual or subscription
    I used to do unboxing videos for my Buddy Box subscription on my YouTube channel so if you are interested in looking into what is in some of them then feel free to take a look. A buddy box can be bought as a subscription or as a lone item for someone in your life who is struggling. It was designed to be a cheer up tool to help people who are struggling with depression. Here is where you can find your own.51csqi4opl-_sr100100_
  4. Huge fluffy blanket or dressing gown
    Nothing feels as bad when you are wrapped up in a warm and fluffy burrito of fluffy contentness which comes alongside a dressing gown or blanket. The colour will obviously changeable with the preferences of the individual but the fluffier the better. I have a mermaid blanket myself in blue which is just perfect for a cosy night in with a cup of tea. Get yours here. 

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  5. Encouragement/Why I Love You Jar Happy Box
    This will require a little DIY but if you fancy putting in the effort to make your gift extra special this Christmas then an encouragement or why I love you jar is perfect! All you need to do is get an empty cookie jar and fill it with encouraging statements or reasons that you love the person which you can fold up and place inside. When they are feeling sad and lonely, then can open a few of your suggestions and always have a smile at their fingertips! Try a jar like this.61fo4navn-l-_sl150_
  6. A pretty notebook with awesome stationary
    There is nothing better than new pretty stationary. It gives you the freedom to create something, whether that is by writing down your thoughts, a story, drawing or simply creating lists to make your day easier – as we all know by now, I LOVE a good list! Whatever your reasoning, stationary is undeniably awesome! I found this paper chase notebook with all kinds of awesome vintage style things on the cover which I absolutely adore!410guwy48ll-_ac_sr160160_
  7. Good slippers!
    Now I have these exact slippers and so can personally assure you that they are the cosiest damn things on the planet. I absolutely love them and taking care of your feet always makes you feel extra special. It’s far too easy to forget about your feet, but your tootsies need some love too! Treat them to these beauties here

 

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

Why We Need to Talk About High Functioning Depression

One in four people will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives, and most of the time it is a silent battle, so chances are – you will know at least one of us! Whether it is your colleague, your teacher or even that nice girl that serves you your morning coffee with a constant smile on her face, what you don’t see is that behind that smile is screaming.depression-fake-smile-life-life-sucks-favim-com-1376197

We all have a stereotypical view of depression and anxiety, a sufferer having to force themselves out of bed every morning to struggle through the day, only to have themselves fail at every hurdle and end up back home again. Returning back to their duvet of self pity to cry and fret about the next day – am I getting warm? Sure, a lot of people think like that, and hell, I’m sure there are plenty of people with depression who do decide to deal with their depression in such a way – and that is fine! There is no right or wrong way to deal with this bitch of a condition, either way it’s going to hurt like hell and there is no point in pretending otherwise, so however a person copes is perfectly valid and acceptable.

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In most circles, high functioning depression is seen as more “acceptable” and certainly seen as easier and a “less serious” form of the condition but I must say that I fail to see how this opinion is formed. As someone with “high functioning depression” I can tell you that it is in no way bloody easy! If I were not so vocal about my mental health, then most people tell me that they would have no idea that I suffer with bipolar and anxiety – something which I am unsure how to take if I am honest.

I talk about my mental illnesses openly as I am in no way ashamed of them. Sure, I am aware that some people in my life certainly think less of me because of them, and there are many who treat me with a new sense of disregard as soon as they become aware of my conditions. However, I believe that people need to speak more openly about mental health in general so that we can help to remove this stigma and in doing so, remove the need for people like me to feel they have to hide away and struggle through everything on their own without being seen as weak.

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High functioning depression comes with all of the same struggles that come with lower functioning depression, as well as a whole host of new and “exciting” ones. To maintain a (relatively!) normal appearance, efforts must be doubled. Going out to see friends regularly becomes a chore sometimes more than a pleasure and I feel I cannot use my anxiety as an excuse as they will only take it personally, and “I should be able to do these things anyway damn it!”

Going to work every day and maintaining a happy and smiling appearance when sometimes all I want to do is to literally curl up in my bath (personal choice, I’ve spent many an hour crying in an empty bath) and scream into the silence until I stop feeling so intensely. Dealing with urges, as well as the reality of, self harm and thinking to yourself “well I can’t cut there or people will see through my uniform and know that I’m struggling” – I mean God forbid anyone have the chance to offer you help am I right?

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High functioning depression often comes with a demand for perfectionism and so is often followed by a lack of ability to give yourself any slack! I refuse to allow myself any leigh weigh when it comes to my mental illness affecting my life, it’s just not happening. If I promised someone that I would do something, or if I have a commitment then I am following through even if it means I make myself ill.

I, like many others, only get through a long shift by having a 2 minute cry in the toilet before slapping myself to get it back together again. Wiping my eyes, pinching my cheeks to draw colour and practising that old faithful smile. It’s funny really that the one feature that people often comment on to me is my smile. That I “brighten their day” as I am always happy and smiling when they see me. The really sad thing is that I actually take great pride in that. Although I know that a large portion of the time I have been smiling I have been pretty much dead behind the eyes, it proves to me that my façade is at least a convincing one and that I am not hurting anyone. That is my greatest fear, that I could possibly make someone else feel the way my mental illness can make me feel sometimes – and that is why I refuse to lay off myself.

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As the pace of every day living gets faster and faster, it becomes very clear that more and more people are suffering with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, but that a huge portion of these are keeping quiet and making themselves so much worse. Why is it that we think it is better to slowly kill ourselves by not taking proper care, than to actually ask for help!?

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So no, although all kinds of depression and mental health disorders are hell on earth to endure and fight your way through, “high functioning depression” is sure as hell not easier. Just because I may appear to have my shit together most of the time, I assure you that behind this trademark Emmie smile I’m crying 90% of the time…I just like to pretend otherwise!

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