Dear The Band,
I do not know what to do. My owner hit me today. I growled at another dog and she full-out whacked me across the muzzle. Not just once, but again and again.
I am so scared. She has never behaved like this before. She has been so sad for months and months because she lost her dearest friend and was betrayed by another, but she has never been so mean. I would know that she was sad by the way she wouldn’t want to walk me or play with me or train me or even spend time with me sometimes, but she was still a good mummy.
I am trying to be a good doggy, but I do not know what else to do but to ask The Band for help. I listen to her, and she is so scared. She is scared because she is hurting me, and she is scared because she sometimes thinks that I would be better off at the animal shelter than with her. Even though it scares me, too, when she hits me, I do not want to live with anybody else. I just want her not to hit me.
I worry for her, The Band.
She used to love nothing more than to spend time with me or with any dog, but I can count on my 18 toes (if you count my dewclaws) the number of times in the last six months that I have seen her truly happy. That she has loved to take me for a hike or to agility training. I worry for her because she used to believe that a career with dogs is what she wanted, and in the last few weeks I have seen her barely tolerate the dogs that she is pet-sitting. I worry for her because she hugs me and tells me that she just wants to go back to bed.
I know she worries for herself, too. She does not know whether she is upset because she is still grieving over her lost friends, or whether her sadness has become something more. I do not have the answers for her, and that is why I am here.
My muzzle hurts where she whacked it, and my flank hurts where she grabbed it, and my brain hurts where she was sad at me. I do not know who else to go to.
A Concerned Puppy Dog
Today is a tough day. All the terror and hatred in the news is weighing me down. I must remember…
There are those who choose to define themselves with hate, so I will choose to define myself with compassion and understanding. I will not “hate” someone because of what or who they believe in, even if I disagree. I will try to understand their ideals and offer them a chance to understand mine. I will continue to teach my children that who someone loves, how they define themselves, where they are from, or how they worship does not negate their humanity.
I may not have the ability to change the world, but I have the ability to change me.
It was with a loud crash that she hit the floor, her knees gone weak with fear. “Help,” she cried, to no one in particular, a sort of mangled prayer to a god she never once believed in.
“Help me,” she whispered, hoping to see someone there, yet there was nothing but vast darkness, her hands clenched tightly.
There was a hollowness in her soul, an icy chill that ran through her veins when she hit this point. The bottom, again, a place she promised to stay away from, spun so quickly up to greet her. “Help me,” again she whispered, desperate.
The cold steel seemed to awaken in her hand. It was so strong, so faithful, and so delicate. She closed her eyes, tears falling hot and fast, such opposition to the cold running through her heart. One line, then another, cutting across her flesh.
“Help,” she whispered, partially to her ever trusty blade, partially to the blood now trickling down. It was warm like her tears, and safe, a reminder that she was real.
Exhausted, she wept.
This was never how it was supposed to be.
A long, long time ago, my father invented the Internet. As in, he worked for network solutions and laid down cables that later became what we know today as the Internet. A few years later, that company was bought out and the higher-ups were given a fat check and let go. That’s the official story, anyway. It didn’t really go down like that, but I’m not allowed to tell that truth. I’m sketchy on the details myself, anyway.
So, my father started plans to begin his own business. While he waited to get things set up, he did day-trading of stocks online. One thing led to another, it took a while, and then his father died. Suddenly, the money he had saved was getting his mom (who later remarried) out of financial trouble. With his money for starting the business gone, he continued to do day trading and living off of his retirement fund.
As the years went by, and the stock market started to not do so well, my father became very depressed. He had many dreams of how to support himself, but nothing seemed to be panning out. One day while painting his home, he took a bad fall off of a ladder that was located at the top of some stairs. When he fell off the ladder, he went down the stairs, as well, and the ladder went with him. This fall left him in massive amounts of pain and feeling very depressed.
Not too long afterward, my mom received a copy of his will and his suicide letter in the mail.
That was a long day.
The police in North Carolina, where he lived, entered his home to find him alive, but very sick in his bed after taking an entire bottle of morphine. He proceeded to spend the next week in the psychiatric ward of his local hospital. Around this time, 9/11 happened.
That was a long week.
The doctors at the hospital pumped my father full of antidepressants and continued to see him on an out-patient basis. That medication was not good to him.
Here is where I will never know the full truth, and I’ll explain why later.
There is a small percentage of people who can’t take certain antidepressants. The medications do not metabolize well in them. My father is one of those people. It causes psychotic breakdowns and has led to some violent crimes (for other people – my father never got that bad), as well as memory problems and seizures. When my father went to talk to his doctors about what happened, they refused to discuss it and slapped a silence order on his therapist. My father stopped seeing them – all of them – as well as going off all medications. None of my doctors in the field have ever heard of problems like that with the antidepressant they had put my father on. So is it that rare? Or is my father that messed up mentally? More on that in a minute.
My father still has the memory problems and the seizures. He talks to people who aren’t there. Always has. He does this when he mumbles. He’ll never admit to it, but you can sometimes hear what he’s saying. He also has fanciful tails of the security clearance he used to have for the government, the people he advised, the projects he worked on. These stories are all the truth as he knows it.
Have you ever seen the movie A Beautiful Mind? My father reminds me of the home game.
Will I ever know the truth?
Only if my father receives a diagnosis that points us in one way or the other. And with my dad’s paranoia of the system – any system – we most likely never will see that diagnosis.
My opinion is that while at times I think my mom might have BPD, I’m pretty sure my father does. Everything fits well, and my acorn did not fall far from that tree. If my father is indeed having delusions, that would fit in well to Schizotypal, only in his case, I think it’s been his truth for so long, that he honestly believes it. Or who knows, maybe it really is the truth. As I said, I may never know.
I have to wonder, will I ever know the truth?
I haven’t told many people about this. Very few know any details. My husband knows the gist of it, but not all of it.
I was around 15 years old and I’d already spent time battling my personal demon. It was named Self-Harm and it came armed with a blade and a lighter.
I swallowed a bottle of… something. I can’t remember what. They had me on so many different medications. They wanted to “fix” me. The mutilation scared my parents. Not, of course, enough to try anything beyond anonymous prayer requests to the church group and a random assortment of pills. That, along with attempts, pleading with me to just stop and shaming me for my behavior, was supposed to be my “miracle cure.”
I don’t remember what finally tripped the trigger and pushed me to that point. Was it an argument? A particularly bad day? I don’t know. I can’t remember.
I remember being rushed to the ER. I remember the staff being unable to get a tube down into my stomach. I remember vomiting, repeatedly, every time they tried. Eventually they stopped trying and handed me a big mug of some charcoal mixture and told me to drink it.
Afterward, I had to stay in the ICU for 24 hours. I should have been sent to the local Psych unit for 72 hours. But I wasn’t. The doctor came in and talked to me.
He made me promise not to do this again, patted me on my head, handed me another prescription, and sent me off.
And that was it.
I went home.
I saw a “Christian Counselor” (despite religion being one of the major things my parents and I fought about) a handful of times over the next six months. My medication was changed a few more times. I can’t even remember everything we tried.
And that was it.
I stopped taking the medication when it was “mutually decided” I should move out.
I struggled with depression and other issues off and on for the next three or four years. It wasn’t until after the birth of my son and my second bout of Paranoid Personality Disorder that I started taking medication regularly or seeing a counselor on a regular basis.
I wonder how things would have turned out if they’d been handled differently way back then?
This is her story:
I looked around at their smiling faces as I nervously fiddled with my unkempt hair.
When was the last time I took a shower? I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t remember the last time I ate, either. I wasn’t hungry.
“Oh, Carri!” My grandma was holding him, his tiny hand wrapped around her finger. “He’s beautiful – such a healthy boy!”
I studied him from across the room as he was shuffled from person to person. His perfectly round head. His teeny toes. Those skinny chicken legs.
My son, Blake: The newest member of our family.
They were excited to meet him. To hold him. To stroke his soft skin and take in his new scent.
I wanted them to leave.
My parents. My brother. My aunt and uncle. My grandma. They had to leave.
The walls were closing in.
My thoughts. The thoughts were racing. He was going to be hungry soon. He would need a diaper change. He would spit up and need another change of clothes.
The house was dirty.
I had to do laundry.
I needed sleep.
But I couldn’t sleep. The thoughts wouldn’t stop long enough.
The walls were closing in.
They were squeezing the life out of me like a vice. Making me sweat. Making me second guess myself.
Making me crazy.
And as my family relished my tiny miracle, I was crumbling inside. Panicking. Becoming more and more restless.
Until finally, I left the room to release the anxiety.
“Where is she going?” they asked.
I had to be alone.
Because the walls were closing in.
And postpartum depression continued its debilitating hold until I’d finally had enough.
I wanted to enjoy my newborn. I wanted to take in his smell, stroke his hair, and kiss his soft skin.
I wanted to be happy.