My Dog Taught Me That One Person Cannot Fix Your Anxiety

My Dog Taught Me That One Person Cannot Fix Your Anxiety

No matter how much unconditional love there is, it may not be enough.

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I've always dreamt of my dog living with me after I bought my own place. She's my best friend. (Even bester of a friend than my fiancé, I think, but don't tell him…wink wink). I dreamt that Cheyenne and I would take walks every morning and go on little truck rides to the park and the lake. We would be adventurers together in our own little life.

So as soon as I signed the papers and moved all my junk into my new house, I scooped up my puppy (11 years old but yes, she's still a puppy) and introduced her to her new home. I set up her bed in the living room and set out bowls in the kitchen. I even gave her new toys! She loved the squeaky hedgehog with the Santa Claus hat.

We took walks around the neighborhood. I introduced her to the Samoid next door. His name is Mumba. Cheyenne kept a close eye on the neighbor's decorative reindeer in case – you know – they attempt to conquer the world. She pounced on her hedgehog and played keep away instead of fetch. Our first few days together were great!

The first few nights, however, were a bit rough. Cheyenne has anxiety. It's common in German Shepherds. When bedtime rolled around, Cheyenne would curl up on her bed and get comfy for a few hours. Then she would start pacing. My house is laid out in a circle so she literally walked in circles all night. All my floors are hardwood so all I heard at night was the "click click click" of her toenails. It drove me crazy. She was going crazy. I think she was looking for my dad or my mom's dog or just something familiar.

I did my best to get her settled in. My fiancé and I treated her like a princess. We took her to visit my parent's so she would realize they're not gone forever.

But it didn't work. Cheyenne's anxiety got worse. She stopped eating for a couple days. She wouldn't come out of her crate unless I coaxed her outside. She stopped playing with her squeaky hedgehog.

After 2 weeks of frustration, worry, disappointment, and a lot of tears, I told myself to make a choice. Option 1: Keep Cheyenne, take her to the vet, and put her on Xanax for the rest of her life. Option 2: Take her back to my parent's house where she's comfortable and happy without the assistance of medication.

Sure, I want her to live with me more than anything but more so I want her to live where she's comfortable and happy. She's 11 years old. She's set in her ways. She's lived with my parents for 11 years and that's where she's comfortable.

I hoped that she wanted to be with me so much that it didn't matter where we lived. I was wrong. How could I force her to wallow in anxiety for the rest of her life? I couldn't. I would rather she live where she's happy than live with me and be miserable.

So what's the lesson here? The unconditional love of one person cannot eliminate your anxiety.

A new relationship – whether platonic or romantic – will not necessarily cure your anxiety. An old relationship in a new environment will not necessarily cure your anxiety. You cannot expect one person to make you unconditionally happy. Anxiety is a work in progress within yourself. Certainly, the people around you can have a great effect on your life outlook. But anxiety as a whole comes from within and needs mending through the mind.

So while Cheyenne lives the rest of days in peace, I will live my days knowing she's where she belongs. I – one person – was not enough to eliminate her anxiety and that's okay. But I'll still be there for my best friend no matter where she lives.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Well, Here I Am Again Writing An Article At 2 AM Because My Anxiety Is Not Letting Me Sleep

My anxious thoughts late at night are horrible.

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Life is crazy and rough and sometimes sucks. My anxiety has been at its worst this semester, and if I'm being honest - it's driving me insane. I have lost sleep because of it. I have missed classes because of it. I have skipped out on being around friends because of it. The last one is the one that always confuses me, though. I'm at my happiest when I'm around people. I love it, but lately, there have been multiple days where I would rather curl up in a ball and cry.

I struggle to breathe. I struggle to keep up with life. I have all of these thoughts racing through my head. One after the other, trying to see which one will be victorious. However, all of them are victorious because they all have me wide awake. I haven't had a decent night of sleep in a while. At this point, I could probably say its been almost a year since I slept well.

It's yet another night. 2 a.m. and I'm wide awake, crippling with thoughts I want out of my head.

It's constant. It never really stops. I can hear it early in the morning, as I eat my lunch when I'm walking to class, and especially late at night. Right now, the thought screaming the loudest is "No one likes you. That's why you're here and not there." I know it's not true.

My anxious thoughts late at night are horrible. I hate them. They irritate me. They keep me up all hours of the night. I toss and turn for hours on end wishing for all of these anxious thoughts to end. I think about things from years ago. I think about things from yesterday. These things never seem to end.

My anxiety has been horrible lately. I haven't been able to get a proper night's sleep in months. I've averaged 3-4 hours a night. I hate it. My mind won't turn off. The racing thoughts never seem to end. I am sick of it. I want to get out of this, but I just can't. Why is this happening?

I have not been able to breathe properly in weeks. I have to physically stop, breathe in deeply, and practically yawn to catch my breath. Why? Why is this happening? I hate it. I'm so stressed from life. This needs to stop.

My body is weak. My mind is no longer concentrating. I want to run away from all of this, but I know that is not how I should handle it. This needs to end. My days can no longer be filled with hopes of a class being canceled or pretending like it is so I don't have to go.

Anxiety has overtaken my life, and I am sick of it. I am ready for it to leave. It won't though. It will continue to reside in my body. I hate it. I can't breathe. I want to cry, but I just can't. I'm sick of this. Anxiety can f*ck off because it has no business taking control of my life.

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