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're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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There Are Some Secrets To Living With Anxiety That No One Tells You About

It really kills you from the inside out, trust me.

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I love the definition of the word anxiety. I love how the dictionary has no emotional sense of how much this one simple word can affect your life and how you think other people may see you. In the dictionary or even through Google searches, it defines anxiety as "a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome."

What a simple ambiguous definition! Unfortunately, the dictionary does not know a certain thing about anxiety. What's funnier is that the online dictionary divides the definition of anxiety into different sections: a noun, and a term deemed by psychiatry.

In fact, people assume that if you have anxiety, you need therapy or you need to go to the psychiatrist for some SERIOUS help. I mean, it is true, I'm not gonna deny it. I for one have anxiety and I spend every living second of my life wondering what it would be like if I didn't have it. Would I stop worrying about everything every single second? Would I stop overthinking about stupid things that won't affect my lifestyle? Would I stop doubting my worth? Would I stop believing what everyone says, and what I think people think or judge about me?

I don't know. I really have a hard time knowing because I have anxiety. Anxiety is like this creepy-crawler that won't stop crawling into the holes of my body, haunting and messing with my head. It never leaves; it just wiggles in and then wiggles out, and appears every single time I have one small belief in myself.

Say I'm performing in front of the class during a class presentation and I'm reading off of the notes on my notecard feeling quite pleasant, there would then be a short hiatus in which I freeze and then forget everything. It's funny. Everything is written on my index card, it's just the words won't come out.

My mind then shuts down, and everyone in the audience starts to look like monsters with devil horns and squinty eyes. I then start shaking and my hands immediately start sweating a mile a minute. The few words coming out of my mouth sounds like quiet stutters and shy whimpers. I hear a few chuckles here and there as I can't bear to look up. It was one of my worst anxiety attacks, one of which I pretty much paused for five minutes just staring at the card, not knowing how to read.

Another anxiety attack experience would be during my final piano recital performance at Carnegie Hall where I completely blanked. It was a situation which I thought I would have handled pretty well, if not for my anxiety. I had practiced the piece several times at home and memorized it without any errors.

It began smoothly in the room with the audience, and the piece was memorized, but the accuracy got interrupted by a single noise: a baby crying. Somehow, that baby was the point of my downfall. I suddenly found myself repeating the same music interval, and thought to myself, damn it, I knew this part. Because I did not have my sheet music in front of me, I had nothing to base it off of. All I could do was just stare at the piano notes and panic.

I tried to play the same interval so that I could somehow remember the rest of the notes that went along with it, but it did not work. Even worse, my parents in the front row were super disappointed, I could feel their disapproving eyes glaring at me. Even worse, my piano teacher had to go up herself and whisper in my ear, telling me to just repeat the first half of the theme of the piece to make do for a good ending just to redeem myself. Even now, I can hear her regretful tone.

If you're born with anxiety, it grows the more you age. But if you're not, you're one of the lucky few until it hits you when you reach puberty or when you get to a certain age. If you have stage fright, you most likely have some form of anxiety. If you overthink, you also have some anxiety. Unfortunately for me, I've always had anxiety. Obviously, when I was young, I didn't know what it was, and I never knew that it affected my life to a certain degree.

Until I got to high school, I knew it took a toll on me. During tests, I would have a blanking phase where I forgot formulas. At home, my self-esteem in doing something would suddenly die and drop down to zero, convincing myself that I was nothing. At school, I would sometimes feel as if my own friends were talking shit behind my back, and all of their compliments were just backhanded and ingenuine.

I didn't think it was happening to anyone else, and so I kept it silent for years. I always thought I was different, so I felt if I told anyone about it, they would judge and look at me with a weird expression on their face. I didn't want anyone to know, so I tried so hard to fit into society's norms. But I still stood out.

Up to this day, I know my anxiety is always gonna be there. And even though it always will be there, I know if I surround myself with the right kinds of supportive and loyal people, they will help me learn to overcome my fear of anxiety overpowering my life. It had for a short amount of time until I knew I had to fight back somehow.

And this time, I believe I can overcome it. Not completely, but a little bit of it.

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