I apologise for any spelling mistakes or errors in this blog, it has not really been edited as much as I would like so please bear with me.
So we are coming to the end of another working week. For me, this week has flown by. Possibly due to the amount of work I have had to catch up on. Don't leave work to the last minute folks. It never ends well. My deadlines are not until the end of April, so I do have time to play with. But I like to get work started and in progress as quickly as I can. I hate leaving things to the last moment.
So. Let's crack on.
Before I start, the title of this piece is a song called Can You Feel My Heart by Bring Me the Horizon. I personally love this song as, for me, it talks a lot about mental illness and this is something I can relate to entirely.
This blog is going to be a little different as I will be talking, once more, about some personal topics so I apologise in advance if there is not much actual creative writing in this blog. Lots of people have commented on how my blogs are kind of inspirational and empowering. I never expected this response. I', literally writing because I want to, the topics I write about are whatever comes to my head or what I feel most passionately about during the day. I do want to get my views out there and try to change people's minds and attitudes. But I never expected it to actually happen. Let us begin another blog into this world, shall we?
Yesterday was the eight month anniversary of mine and Yashka partnership. I can't believe that it has been that long, it seems only last week when I first met her and took her on a trail run to see how she feels. She has become such a massive part of my life, so much that I can't imagine life without her now. She's always there. When I wake up right through to when I go to bed. Since her bed is right next to mine, she is often the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing before I go to sleep.
She is always with me. Sort of like a shadow. Sometimes it is annoying, especially when I'm at home and I just want to be alone for a while. Because she is always with me, I do need a break from time to time. It is exhausting, there is so much to remember when I'm working her. My level of concentration has to be very sharp and there can be no lapses. I need to be ready for anything. After all, she is a dog and can be unpredictable.
What people don't understand is that I have to work her every single day. Rain or shine, wind or snow. Unless it is a scorching day or it’s very icy, I have to work her no matter what. Of course, if she is ill or injured for whatever reason, then I can't work her as it would be unfair. Unless I am on my death bed, I have to work her. Even on Christmas day and New Year’s Day, I worked her. We hardly ever have a day off. And I love that. Because I feel awful on the days when I can't work her properly. If one day, I can't work her as much as I usually do, I will make up for it the next day.
There are some days when I just don’t want to leave the house. Some days that I just want to stay in bed and cry my eyes out. Where everything seems black and there is no speck of happiness. But I still get up. I tend to Yashka and walk her. Because I have to. But more importantly, because if I didn't have her, life wouldn't be worth living.
As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I suffer with depression and anxiety. Some days are better than others. Some days are horrible and I feel like I'm a failure and I can't do anything. But sometimes, I feel great. I feel positive and have so much energy. No one day is the same, especially with Yashka. But I refuse to let my mental health issues define me. They do not rule me, even if sometimes all I can think about are very negative thoughts and feelings. I'm not ashamed of being diagnosed with these disorders, I'm not ashamed of being on medication. Because who the hell cares about what people think? Their opinion doesn't matter. There are people I do care about, close friends and particular family members. I care what they think. I remember coming home from a doctor’s appointment and having to tell mum that I’ve been out on medication. I was terrified. I didn’t want her to be upset with me or angry at what I had become. Turns out, I was worrying about nothing. Mum actually had a feeling I wasn’t well and that I was struggling. She told me she'd help no matter what. This was the point I accepted my illnesses and learned to live with them.
With Yashka, there are some days and events where it would be impossible or impractical to work her. For example, I have a university trip to Liverpool next week and I cannot take Yashka with me. It wouldn't be fair on her and there are so many things I need to take into consideration. Would she be okay with a two hour coach journey, where would she sit? Would I be able to spend her? What about feeding? The more I thought about it, the more impractical it would be to take her. So mum has very kingly offered to look after Yashka for the day. And I will be handing onto a friend's arm to keep me safe. It will be hard to leave her, but I will get such a big welcome when I get home. Mum knows what to do with feeding and spending. I trust her complete. I know Yashka will be in safe hands whilst I’m in Liverpool.
Yashka had the ability to cheer me up no matter what. Even if we have had an atrocious walk and I want nothing more than to lock myself away and have nothing to do with her. But she will come and find me, give me a lick and settle down by my side, with those big brown eyes staring up at me. And my heart will melt instantly. I may not forgive her right away, but I will be friends with her once more. Sometimes, if I am really struggling with anxiety or depression, Yashka will not leave my side. It’s like she knows. She feels what I feel and wants to help me. She will lay her head on my foot or leg and just be there. There is something so calming and relaxing about stroking a dog when you're not feeling your best. I've read many tips about how to deal with mental illness and how to prevent self-destruction, and many of them advise the reader to stroke or cuddle a pet or a toy. They give us comfort, they make us feel safe, they remind us of our past and they will always be there to welcome us home.
Yashka came to be a very important time in my life. She basically saved me from myself. She has given me a new lease of life, something to live for. I need to take care of her as she takes care of me when we are out and about. She keeps me safe and it is only fair that I return the gesture. I have to look after myself so I can look after her. I have to keep myself going and functioning. I can't fall to pieces, even when the world is crumbling around me. But there are times when I can't cope and I can't deal with anything. For example, today I had a presentation in one of my modules. I was panicking a lot this morning. I can't do presentations to save my life, as I have said before. Once more, I operated the PowerPoint. I was able to hide in the corner whilst my colleagues read out the presentation. Again, I was much happier with this set up. I did my own work and contributed to the presentation and kept my anxieties at a minimum.
I have to keep calm when I am working Yashka s she will pick up on what I'm feeling and will panic herself. I need to remain in control so Yashka will also remain calm and work as she should. This is often a daily struggle for me as I get anxious about the smallest thing and then it will take hold and expand beyond belief. I have often been told to get a grip when I am suffering with anxiety. Contrary to belief, I do not have panic attacks or get anxious for attention. I hate attention. I love to blend into the background and just be forgotten about. This has become harder to do since having Yashka as she does draw attention to me. People often come up to me and ask about Yashka and I have to answer their questions. Because Guide Dogs is a public organisations, they rely on donations from the general public. I am the face of Guide Dogs whenever I and Yashka leave the house. I find it hard to talk to people I don’t know so it is a challenge to answer people's questions and queried about Yashka. But I’m getting better. And I know this time next year, I will be much more confident than I am now.
I know many other people who suffer with anxiety, depression and other illnesses. When I came to university, I made such an amazing group of friends, each one of them suffers with some kind of disability or mental illness. I never had this when I was at sixth form. The people around me didn't really have issues or problems. If they did, they kept them to themselves. Now at uni, mental illness is talked about freely and without hesitation. I love this, I no longer feel ashamed. I can talk about my struggles and not feel judged, my friends offer help and support when I need it most and I try my best to return it when they need help.
I think mental illness should be talked about more freely. It still has a stigma around it, as does other disorders, for example self-harm. I hate the stigma around it. People who self-harm do not do it for attention, they do not do it to kill themselves, and it is often the opposite. They can't deal with the emotions inside of them and need some kind of realise, but they don't know how to do it in a safe way. If you see someone with scars, don't stare, don't make comments. Smile at them and remember that they must have gone through a terrible time, but they came out of the other side and are still alive, they are still fighting every single day. You wouldn't comment on a scar from a car accident, so why you if someone should has straight scars on their arms of legs? If someone choses to expose their scars, we should be proud of them. It must have taken a lot for them to wear t-shirts or shorts. Don't judge them. We should never judge anyone on appearances and yet we do. We make assumptions about a person before they even open their mouths and this is completely out of order.
Treat others as you want to be treated yourself. Everyone is different, we all have different experiences and different stories to tell. Respect this and keep your thoughts to yourself. Everyone has their demons, everyone struggles. We don’t have to keep pointing them out, picking on someone or kicking them when they're down. Because you might be the tenth person who has done that, in that day and it could tip them over the edge. No one wants blood on their hands, so why push someone, why make fun of someone if they have scars or are on medication or even look different. Think before you speak and take people's thoughts and feeling into account before you act. Because you could ruin someone’s life in the blink of an eye.
I’ll leave you with this quote,
"The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and... Bad things. The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant." -Vincent and the Doctor, Doctor Who.
"Because every time you see them happy you remember how sad they're going to be. And it breaks your heart. Because what's the point in them being happy now if they're going to be sad later. The answer is, of course, because they are going to be sad later." -The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe
Until the next time.