Posts Tagged ‘happy’

Walking out of depression

“You can predict the future by looking at the past,” my first real love used to say.

He used this as a mantra in financially difficult times.  He would declare with confidence and enthusiasm,  “I’ve had money before and I’ll have money again!”

His logic, if there was any, was never clear to me, but when I get too sad for too long I remember what he said.  I figure if I’ve been happy before then I’ll be happy again!

I know myself in pain, fatigue and sickness.  I know myself in sadness, grief, confusion and shock.  I know myself in crises, one after another.  I know myself in defense of my dignity and integrity.

Fortunately, I also know myself in joy, peace and happiness, but if the truth was told, I haven’t been really happy since my son became ill when he was nineteen years old.

Depression had literally disabled me before my son’s illness, but I was managing and getting along.  I had gone back to college hoping to finally finish about the same time my son began having medical problems.  I withdrew for the second time, both times were medical withdrawals due to depression.

I know myself well in depression.  Some days I think it’s no more than the way the sun shines that gets to me.  Some days anyone in my shoes would be depressed.  Then, there are times when I remember something that brings me down.

Recently, the memory of that awful relationship I was in not that long ago crept into my mind.  I didn’t want to feel the memory.  I didn’t want to feel the confusion that comes when I recall what I thought was love, only to remember that he said it was all a game.

The gloom that set in was soon interrupted after a brief phone conversation with a very good friend.  I had called to ask him for a favor.  He was able to help me, which relieved me of an hour-long trip.

It wasn’t his kindness alone that changed my mood, although I was certainly grateful for his help.

After telling me the favor I asked of him was no problem and something he could do quickly, he jokingly started pretending to be a ladies man.  “Hey baby,” he tried to say, but we both laughed at how funny it sounded coming from him.  He’s not the kind of man to call a woman Baby or Darling, or like one of my very southern friends, “Sugar,”  who reserves a special name for the sweetest women, a group he says I fall into and calls me, “Sugar Bugger.”

My good friend who can’t even say, “Hey Baby,” without laughing and is not from the south thinks this is a very funny way to address women.  On occasion, he enjoys playing this type of character.  He knows it makes me laugh, which is why he does it.

He tried again, “Oh, baby.  You’ll owe me.  You’ll pay up –he had to pause trying not to laugh — you’ll pay in kisses!  Chocolate kisses!  I will exploit you to no end making you pay in chocolate kisses.”

We both laughed.  I realized when we hung up the phone how much better I felt.  The dark cloud was gone.

Having my friend joke about such a thing or me merely hearing the word, “exploited,” might have made me very sad or even physically sick six months or a year ago.

The joking around didn’t cause the dark cloud to rain misery down on me and instead brought only laughter.  My friend’s silly imitation of this type of character made me see how lucky I am today not to be in a relationship where what he was joking about would be my reality.  A peaceful feeling set in with me for the rest of the evening.

I feel lucky to have made it back to myself.  What a long trip away it was.

This past summer brought healing to my heart in a new friendship with two sisters, both young and full of enthusiasm for the simple things in life.  I laughed more that summer than I have in ten summers put together.  My son laughed too and for the first time in years I started to see his smile when I snapped pictures of him.

One night we laughed so much and lost track of time.  After midnight I realized the girls should have already gone home.  They were grounded for a week.  Secretly, I felt like a child.  Not that I wanted them in trouble, but we all knew our time was innocent and laughter had gotten the better of us.  Not so much a crime in the summertime.

The girls’ family is of a particular religion that has many rules, a few of which I unknowingly broke, like when I gave them both a birthday celebration.  One of the parents was pretty upset and things changed after that.   Nevertheless, our times together, especially when we all laughed so hard for hours that we would completely wear ourselves out, remains in my mind as a time of healing.

The first day I met the girls I was walking the dogs.  I wasn’t long out of the bad relationship and I had two serious cuts on my fingers from an accident in the kitchen.  They asked me how I was doing and I broke down in tears right there on the side of our road.  I had to bend down and rest on my knee.  I was completely taken by sadness.  I cried while I told them all about my life, how hard it was and that’s when they asked if they could hold the dogs for me.

Most days after that they were here.  Most days they walked my dogs for me.  I cried a lot for the first month or so, but the laughter began healing my heart.  Then when I took pictures and saw the familiar smile on my son’s face that I hadn’t seen in years, I felt that if there is such a thing as angels, those girls surely must be ones.

Not having the best luck in the world, my summer ended with a new neighbor who turned out to be a nightmare.  The situation eventually thoroughly depressed me and the neighbor was soon after evicted for harassment.  The girls weren’t visiting as often anymore.

I felt like I had taken ten steps back.  I had to go through some of the same emotions I had felt that past winter.

The girls went back to school.  My son went back into the hospital.  I realized I was burned out.

Then, just to top things off, a stressful family event happened that caused me more turmoil.  I felt like too much had gone wrong.  I became seriously clinically depressed.

I feel like I’m walking out of depression, but it sure is hard.

In many ways over the past two years, life has called me to question who I am, what I want in my life and just as importantly, what I don’t want anymore, hence my love of the NO icon.

What I don’t want is pretty simple.  I don’t want to be treated poorly and I don’t want to endorse cruelty by standing in the line of fire.

What I want is pretty simple too.  I want to know myself outside of depression.

My mother recently gave me a few letters my uncle found that I wrote to my paternal grandmother in 1990.  I couldn’t believe how happy I sounded in the letters.  I was a little depressed back then but nothing, nothing like I’ve experienced since.

One of the letters reads very much like those happy Christmas letters people write.  Other people.  Not me.

I tried to remember how I felt writing the letters.  I couldn’t remember exactly how I felt, but I know I wrote them.

My son’s letter is the best.

a happy child's letter to his great grandmother

His childhood notes, creative school work and art definitely speaks to a happy kid.  I like that.  I take some credit for the good times he had growing up, which is a piece of happiness.

Returned also to me was a card I had sent my grandmother when I went to Texas to visit a friend.  I think this was the time my friend and I rode across the horse pastures, she on her Arabian and I on a Quarter horse under the light of a full moon and in Texas, that’s a really big moon!

card to grandma, boy I sounded happy

“Just having fun,” takes you a long way walking out of depression.

Thank you for visiting my blog,

dogkisses.

PS  If you haven’t laughed in a while, here’s a video that sure made me laugh.

“Laughing Girl”

Who deserves more credit?

a dog that deserves more credit than he gets

One of the topics in The Daily Post “PostAWeek”  challenge is, “Who deserves more credit than they get?”

I couldn’t decide between bloggers, dishwashers or dogs, because they all deserve more credit than they get.

Dogs deserve more credit than they get for giving people companionship and unconditional love.  Dogs are particularly important to people living with chronic illness or a disability that has caused isolation and often alienation from family, friends, community and society.

Many people I know who live with chronic illness have a dog.  They are our four-legged friends who are there for us no matter what.  A dog can make us smile when we are in pain.  They’ll get up with us in the wee hours of the mornings when everyone else is sleeping.  They give us a reason to take walks or get outside for fresh air.  Their fur is soft and petting them calms us.  Their spirits are overflowing with sweetness.  Dogs give.  That’s what they do.  They give and they keep on giving.

Sometimes, and this is one of the greatest gifts that I get from the love of a dog, they offer a reason to keep on living.

“They can’t be nurses, doctors or teachers!” a desk attendant working at a hospital said to me one time.  We had struck up a conversation while I was waiting on a relative.  She became upset when I told her about my dog who was receiving medical care for bone cancer.

“There are children starving!  I can’t believe people spend money on a dog’s health care, while there are children who do not have the things they need,” she said.

I wondered how many of the nurses or doctors had dogs.  I knew the woman wouldn’t understand about spending money on a sick dog no matter what I said so I changed the subject.

Personally, I think dogs can help people be better nurses, doctors or teachers.  Plus, mine are all that and more.   Dogs can also make these jobs easier by giving love and companionship to patients and students.

I’ve been pretty sick for the past six months.  Recently, there have been times when I thought I would have to call for emergency help.  My dogs have been vigilant caretakers.  The older dog hasn’t left my side in over two months.  If I get up at 3am, so does he.  He knows I’m not well.  He is simply amazing.  I’ll be thinking the worst thoughts and he gets as close to my body as he can.  He doesn’t usually give kisses but lately, out of the blue, he’ll give me a quick little kiss as if to remind me they are here.

My dogs love me and they need me.  In this way, they literally save my life, over and over.

We hear about enormous amounts of money some people spend on their pets.  It’s true that veterinarian bills are expensive, but that isn’t the same thing as extravagant amounts of money spent for things like diamond covered collars, fur coats and all sorts of weird things a dog certainly doesn’t need and likely doesn’t care about.

I’d rather pay for a dog to get medical care than pay for my hair to be colored, manicures, an expensive car or the expensive things plenty of people spend money on.  This is a personal choice and comparably, I must admit, I think a dog is a heck of a lot more fun than what non-dog owners spend money on.

I don’t think it makes sense to criticize pet owners for spending money on pets, while people are in debt because they wanted a big screen television in every room of their house.

I’ve been judged and criticized for spending money on a dog and I find this pretty absurd.

A landlord I called once about an apartment got so angry when I told her that I live on a fixed income and have a dog, that I thought she was going to have a heart attack.  No joke.  She was ready to rent me the sweetest little cottage in the mountains.  She was praising me for raising a son alone and going to college.  I was all this and that, until I told her about my dog.  She started screaming at me over the telephone about how she was paying for my dog’s food via her taxes.

“I can’t believe you have a dog!” the woman shouted.   “It ought to be against the law for people who get help to have a dog.  I can’t believe it!”

I told the woman how little the dog’s food cost, but that didn’t matter.  I hung up on her because she wouldn’t stop screaming at me.

Magically, the next day I met the greatest landlord a dog owner could hope for.  She kept asking if I was sure the place was good enough for my dog.  We ended up being nice friends.

Fortunately and just as magically, the landlords I rent from now are wonderful and love my dogs.  I was afraid they wouldn’t allow me to have the bigger dog but when they saw him one of them said, “You are lucky to have him.  He’ll protect you out here.”

My family used to make remarks about how I could have a better place to live if I didn’t have dogs or that I would be free to come visit them since they won’t allow dogs in their homes.  After years gone by, I believe they recognize more the value of my dogs, but they still don’t let my dogs come inside and as a result, I hardly ever get to visit them.

Dogs help people in so many ways.  Being there for a sick person when everyone else is waiting on her to feel better is a great deed.

Their companionship and love make people feel happy.  I read once where being lonely is the number one reason for suicide.  I believe the love of a dog can help prevent this.

As I write, my son is visiting for the holiday.  He hasn’t felt so great lately either.   He has some serious health challenges in life.  After dinner this evening he suddenly got the biggest smile on his face.  His dog was lying on his back with his short legs up in the air.  He rests like that (he’s part Basset Hound) and he looks very funny when he does it.

My son went over and lied down beside him to rub his belly.  I guess most dogs like to have their belly rubbed.  Our younger dog was in on the scene shortly after.  It was such a wonderful moment.  My son looked happy and this made me feel good.  Both dogs were smothering him with love.

I asked him how he felt around his dog.  I like to use words to express my feelings and experience.  I think it’s good to have a way to talk about things.

He could barely talk without laughing when he tried to respond.  “Loyal, he’s so loyal.”

My son continued on, “He’s my protector.  Awww.  He loves me.  Look at him,” and he laughed again while he rubbed his best friend’s soft belly.  “He wants me to hug him.  Awww.  He’s so sweet!”  My son let out a deep breath of air.  He looked content and lied back on the sofa to rest.  I’ve always said, and definitely believe, that dogs are good medicine.

Earlier today the dog jumped from the back seat to the front and was out of the car as soon as the door opened when I arrived at my son’s apartment.  The dog is getting old, but so far this hasn’t slowed him down when he sees his true master.

This dog is a very special dog.  He has saved my son’s life several times.  He definitely deserves more credit than he gets.

Some people used to remark that this dog is a burden to me.  He is stronger than I am, which makes walking him a creative and carefully planned task.  He has seizures that break my heart, but not so many that they lessen his quality of life.  He is no burden.  He is a gift, a blessing and like all dogs, a teacher.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

dogkisses.


 

Holding Hope

We find it, lose it, and yet keep finding it... that elusive source of survival

Hope is a wonderful feeling.  It’s also hard to hold.  I guess some people have it most of the time, which must be a very nice experience.

I wonder if the people who have hope most or even all of the time are consciously aware of it?   Maybe it’s an ongoing feeling that is so normal they don’t think about it.

I get bursts of hope –sometimes in large doses and other times small ones, but it comes and it goes.

It’s like being on a merry-go-round.   Sometimes I jump off where there isn’t any hope and instead a great void of darkness.  It is from this desperately sorrowful place that I search for hope, because that’s the only thing strong enough to pull me out.  The trick is me being able to see it, grab it and hold on to it long enough to stand on the ground again.

Round and round I go.  Lose it, find it, lose it and find it again.

My losing hope feels like a normal human response to chronic repeated difficult situations filled with fear and grief.   It comes from not knowing what to do or being too tired to do what I think might help me find some peace.

Hope instills peace and joy.  If I could hold hope long enough, I’d have a better chance at feeling joy.  I might even feel happy again, like I did a long time ago.

Hope must be something you have to nurture.  It must be akin to yeast if you want bread to rise.  It might be the same to the spirit and mind as water is to the physical body.   Maybe we can’t survive without it.

Hope is hard to hold.  I keep losing it, but then again, I keep finding it.


Thank you for visiting my blog.