Lucy Puppy Visits My Psychiatrist!

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Greetings and happy Friday everyone!

Today I planned to write about my Dad, as it’s his birthday.  My father died in 2009, and I’ve written about him in this blog before.  I considered him to be one of my best friends, and he also had bipolar one disorder.  The link to my post about Dad is here:

https://dyaneharwood.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/dad/

I’ve always been into birthdays, and today I can’t help but feel down about the fact that Dad isn’t here with us to celebrate another one.  However, I’ve been comforting myself with the thought that he’d get a big kick out of what happened this morning.

I had my monthly check-in appointment with the best psychiatrist I’ve ever had: Dr. D.  Apart from being the most helpful pdoc I’ve seen over a span of two decades, Dr. D. is also the first dog-friendly psychiatrist I’ve consulted.  With all due respect, from now on I shall refer to him here as “Dr. Dog”.  (Ruff, ruff!)

A few weeks ago, when I emailed Dr. Dog about a med refill, I mentioned that the glorious puppy Lucy had joined our family.  I didn’t know if he liked dogs, but I attached a photo of her anyway since she was so damn cute.  Dr. Dog wrote back remarking on Lucy’s sweet face, and he said it would be perfectly fine to bring her to my next appointment at his-dog-friendly office complex.  I thought that was the coolest thing, and I knew that having Lucy with me would lessen my anxiety.  I was a little stressed about her going potty in his office, but I didn’t let that stop me from bringing her along.

To prevent a puppy accident from occurring, I packed doggy pads, spray cleaner, a roll of paper towels, a couple baggies, a dog toy, and a little container of water!  I’m sure I left something out.  (Just kidding!)  Honest-to-God, I felt like a mom with her a newborn going on an errand, carrying a plethora of baby objects in tow. While Lucy’s accoutrements were much easier to pack compared to infant gear (and infant), I found the task challenging all the same.

When Lucy met Dr. Dog, they hit it off right away.  I was the uber-proud mama of a fur baby!  Dr. Dog told me he was impressed my bringing my array of clean-up items, etc.  It turns out that he used to have a Sheltie who passed away few years ago.  (Lucy is part Sheltie, so of course I took that as a good sign.)

We reviewed my blood test paperwork, and then I brought up the two topics on my mind: my high anxiety, and my sugar & caffeine addictions.  Dr. Dog also considers my sugar and caffeine problems as bona fide addictions. He’s a longtime addiction psychiatrist and he knows what he’s talking about! I’ve become so discouraged with my lack of progress in these two areas in my life.  Diet and anxiety are strongly connected, and I’m perpetuating a self-sabotaging cycle in which the more sugar and caffeine I ingest, the worse my anxiety becomes.  Dr. Dog said he felt a “sadness” for me because these issues continue to bring me down and prevent me from being my best, happiest self.  I don’t foresee any quick fixes here, and I’m working on them with my therapists.  (My human therapist and my puppy therapist.  I’m joking once again – I smelled Lucy’s furry little head a few minutes ago, and I’m high on puppy.  It truly smelled amazing and not “wt doggy” yet. )

At the close of our appointment Dr. Dog remarked that I was doing “very well” despite my self-confessed challenges, which was music to my ears.  He said I could bring Lucy to my next appointment – more music to my ears indeed.  It was lovely to have her at my side in his office today, as she definitely helped me ratchet down my angst.  Lucy was so good and mellow, and she didn’t even go potty on his carpet! 🙂

Along with the bipolar gene, I inherited a great love for hounds from my father.  My Dad adored dogs and he filled our home with his beloved Irish Setters.  (Note to you dog experts out there – I believe that Irish Setters are much smarter than they get credit for!)  It was fitting that today on my Dad’s birthday I saw my psychiatrist with Lucy  by my side.  I know he’d completely approve of the arrangement and perhaps he even had an otherworldly hand in making it happen.  Who knows?

In any case, it’s fun to write about my joyful, vivacious puppy  today instead of dwelling upon Dad’s pain, suffering and death like I had initially planned to expound on.  I’ve “been there, done that” numerous times. This past week I wrote an essay about grieving my Dad for the upcoming issue of “Anchor” magazine.  I didn’t choose the topic; the upcoming issue’s theme is grief.  That assignment drained me, and I feel like I’ve met a “grief theme writing quota” that should last me quite a while.

I hope that my Dad is having fun in the Afterlife; perhaps he’s with his Irish Setters.  I see him in my mind’s eye playing the Tchaikovsky pieces he loved on his favorite Guadagnini violin.  His audience consists in part of Tanya and Amber, his mild-mannered setters.  Dad would understand my decision to blog mostly about Lucy instead of about him and my grieving his loss, especially since he couldn’t stand to talk about death in any way, shape or form!

I miss him.

 

 

 

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Not Crazy, Just Mad

bIt’s a Sunday mid-morning on Mother’s Day, and I’m in our front yard sitting in a patch of sun.  The inside of our home is much colder than the outside temperature, and I just want to warm up a little bit.   Our three chickens Hazel, Malena and Emily cluck soothingly beside me in their coop.  My husband Craig is in the living room supervising our girls playing with Lucy the feisty puppy.

We just had an argument.

I blame Mother’s Day for it.

Over the past few days, I prepped Craig about Mother’s Day, saying I would like to “do my own thing”, within reason.  I didn’t require gifts, flowers or  fancy dinner.  I thought that he’d consider himself lucky to have such a low-maintenance wife!  Then I clarified my request and said I wanted to have a lot of writing time.  I didn’t think I was being unreasonable, and he didn’t say that was unacceptable.

But just now, after I had been glued to my laptop for a few hours, my husband just told me that I had a “dysfunctional” relationship with our computer.  That was a low blow.  I’ve freely admitted I’m online too much as a rule, both to him and to pretty much everyone on the planet, but to throw a nasty label like that at me really hurt.  Plus, it’s Mother’s Day.  Shouldn’t I be treated like the Queen that I am?

Now I sit in a puddle of sunlight feeling like I’m in an icy bath.

How dare you say that to me on holy Mother’s Day!!!  I wanted to scream at him.  It would have felt soooo good to yell.  But I won’t do it because I stopped my rage-fests a long time ago.  Making a complete spectacle of myself is the last thing I want to do in front of my girls, our puppy, and our new neighbors who moved in yesterday next door.

So I’m taking a deep breath.  I’m taking another one.  I’m going to keep away from my innocent computer for a while.  Our relationship is not dysfunctional.  I have a life outside of being online, albeit more narrow than I’d like it to be.

My MacBookPro and I are just friends!  We have a healthy relationship consisting of mutual admiration and respect.  I’m reminded of a great 1984 sci-fi, romantic drama called “Electric Dreams” that depicts a love triangle between a man, a woman, and a home computer.  It really was a charming film, and I loved it so much that I bought the Giorgio Moroder-composed soundtrack.  

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I digress.  I need to shake off my anger and do it as swiftly as I can.  I hate feeling this way.  I know what I’ll do!!!

It’s puppy therapy time!

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I shall take a few private minutes with my furball, tell her of my woes, and hold her gently in my arms.  I will let her lick my face even though her breath is pretty iffy – I’ve seen what else she licks and it ain’t pretty, or hygienic for that matter.  I don’t care.  I’m upset and I need comfort.  It’s refreshing to realize I can give myself a time-out with my canine.  Wow.  This is so cool!

As I embrace this coping strategy I can already feel a shift in my rage.  I’m still quite upset by what happened, but I’ll discuss my hurt feelings with Craig after I’ve had my Lucy time.  It might not be such a bad idea to suggest to Craig to have a few minutes alone with Lucy before we work things out.

Suggesting to hang out with one’s pet to overcome a nasty spat may sound simplistic.  I don’t think it is.  The feedback I’ve gotten from my pet-owning friends is that their “fur children” have helped them with emotions such as anger, sadness and loneliness immeasurably.  I remember the comfort I felt as a little girl laying by my Irish Setter’s warm side, hearing her gentle
breathing and watching her chest rise and fall.  It has been a long time since I’ve had my own dog comfort me, and the gift of Lucy’s unconditional love is a Mother’s Day gift of the highest degree.

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A Happy *Tail* of Delurking

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Yesterday I was high on puppy.  I know that sounds silly, but I really was.  And guess what?

I still am!

Nevermind the fact that Lucy woke me up with a whimper at 4:00 a.m., and I never got back to sleep.  I’m wiped out, but I’m still high on this furry bundle of joy.  It’s also a pleasure that many of my blogosphere friends have been encouraging about the addition of  this “fur child”.  

Yesterday six-year-old Marilla narrated a twenty-second video about Lucy that I’d love for you to watch – you can find it here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaGUX129lYs&feature=youtu.be

I’m telling you, yesterday I felt so intoxicated about our puppy that out of the blue, a 1980 Stephanie Mills song started playing in my brain.  I felt compelled to find the video. Remember that song  “Never Knew Love Like This Before”?  Watch this and you can let it creep around your brain & drive you a little nuts too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLbC0dRIjX0

Apart from my happiness while enjoying my first full day with Lucy, I had an unexpected incident occur with my Mom.

Ever since I started “Birth of a New Brain”, I didn’t share my blog with my mother in case I’d offend her.  I definitely didn’t want to censor my writing – the whole point of blogging was to freely express what I felt.  I certainly wasn’t out to defame my family, but I wanted to write about my experience growing up with a father with manic depression, and occasionally examine my relationship with Mom.  I could have blogged anonymously, but that didn’t appeal to me.  

From my first post on, I doubted that Mom would locate my blog.  She has admitted repeatedly that she’s not the savviest Grandma on the block when it comes to computers, and that fact kept my fears at bay.  However, I wasn’t completely naive; I knew that according to Murphy’s Law, she would most likely encounter my blog in spite of her being a luddite.   In my heart, I knew it was only a matter of time until Mom found my blog.  

So yesterday my mother, who lives far away, called me to discuss how Lucy was doing on her first day with us. Mom is a dog lover of the highest degree, and she fully understood the significance of bringing a puppy into our household.   We were having a very upbeat, positive conversation.  

Then, quite casually she murmured, “I’ve read your blog.”

I gulped.  My heart sank and I prepared myself to be chewed out for blogging about family matters, namely about her, and she was not always depicted in the best light.

“Oh really?” I said meekly.  “What do you think?” I asked, not really wanting to know the answer.

To my shock and delight, she told me in her proudest tone of voice, “You are a Writer!”  Fortunately, we didn’t get into detail about my blog topics, but she addressed one issue.  She said, “I’m a little concerned….”  

This laconic reaction is too good to be true.  I thought. Now she’s going to flip out! 

“You wrote something about drinking too much coffee, and I want you to be careful with that…” she said.

“Oh, yes,” I chucked.  “You’re right. I have been drinking too much coffee and I plan on cutting down.”  

In the past Mom and I have butted horns about many things.  One sore point between us was my writing.  I am drawn to writing non-fiction, and I’ve always been that way.  However, she saw me as a fiction writer, which has never been my interest nor my forte.  

So, at the close of our conversation, when my mother said to me “I can see you writing both fiction and non-fiction.” that was high praise.  While I felt supremely good at her reaction, I also was unnerved to be “out” with my Mom about my blog.  I wondered how restricted I would feel from now on.

I knew I’d figure out a way to come to terms with this situation.  If I have to tweak some lines or subjects here or there, it’s not the end of the world.  What matters most is that I appreciated the fact that she delurked, and for the manner in which she calmly revealed herself as a reader.

I can see the appeal of being a lurker, although I’ve only lurked a couple times.  When you’re lurking on a close family member’s blog, that’s a cat of a different color.  Or a puppy of a different coat? (See how tipsy I am on this Lucy???!!!)

When I write future posts that may affect my Mom, the most compassionate thing for me to do is to check in with her about the topic and go from there.  No blog post is worth causing her pain.  

My Mom influenced me to be a reader, as well as a writer and lover of the fine arts.  Now that she has delurked, and I’ve outed her as well, I hope that she’ll consider commenting if she feels inspired to do so, because she’s a wonderful writer.  Furthermore, she approaches a certain decade (I’m not naming it!) she has an incredible wealth of wisdom which would lend her comments weight. 

While Mom and I have shared many hard times, she’s a part of me and I don’t want to forget that.  It’s fitting that I write about her today, as it would have been her 45th wedding anniversary with my Dad.  Perhaps he played a hand in her positive attitude towards my blog.  I believe that we all get help from the unseen world once in a while.  

In any case, I am honored to write this blog, I’m thrilled that you are reading it, and if you’re a lurker, I invite you to delurk — if not here, why not delurk on another blog?  I think it’s safe to say that most of us bloggers write for the feedback and the “likes”.  If we didn’t yearn for that give-and-take, then I believe we’d stick to private journals for the most part.

Thanks for reading, friends!

Lucy’s Human Mom

 

Furry SiblingsLucy’s Furry SiblingsMom Layla & DadHere’s Lucy’s mom Layla on the left, and her dad Aztlan is on the right.  The father is the spitting image of my dog Tara who I had for fifteen years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Angel With Fur & An Unexpected Miracle!

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Happy Monday Everyone!

I’ve only reblogged a handful of times. I have a point of pride (some may call it stubbornness, neuroticism, controlling or all three!) where I wish to be the primary author of my blog posts all the time. But today I’m going to have my hands full because we are on the cusp of adding a very, very, VERY-much wanted little Sheltie mix pup into our home.  So reblog Monday it is!

Honestly, I feel a little bit like the way I felt before having my two babies! I’m taking this puppy business very seriously. In my early twenties I adopted two glorious puppies who I loved for fifteen years. One of these dogs, my Sheltie/wolf mix Tara, was in our wedding as our flower “beast”.  She looked resplendent with a gorgeous calla lily corsage and loved all the attention.  My other dog Shera, an fluffy white American Eskimo, also attended our wedding. She “danced” with some of us after the ceremony. (Her breed is known for producing show dogs and they used to perform in circuses. “Eskies” are energetic, bouncy balls of joy and they truly love the attention of a crowd.)

My dogs, who Craig adopted and loved as much as I did, accompanied us on our honeymoon in Mammoth. We considered them to be family members – perhaps the most functional out of all of us, and they didn’t even need therapy!  And don’t even get me started on how I held each of them in my arms when they died…I’ve written about that topic before, and I can’t dwell on it for more than a moment without feeling my heart crack a little. We were lucky to have both dogs live until age fifteen, which was at the very top of their projected life spans.

It has been a few years since we had a dog in our home, and I know I’m going to have my hands full this morning with getting ready to care for our new, spunky little life.  In light of this exciting, momentous change, I thought today might be a good time to reblog, especially (and this is the most important reason to reblog) because the post is worthy of reblogging – I read yesterday and it really inspired and moved me.  It’s a beautiful story about a true miracle.

I hope Mariska’s post will inspire and move you as well!

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bipolar mums

Less than a week ago, I underwent eye surgery to remove a cataract I’d had since birth in my right eye.

In the lead up to the surgery, I was completely focused on the risks associated with the surgery: that I’d end up with no sight at all in my right eye or – even worse – that my ‘good’ left eye would be damaged.

Despite there only being a 1% chance of being left blind, this was enough to have me freaked out.  What if I never saw my children or husband again?  What if I had to give up a job I loved to stay at home – blind? What if I had to live in a bleak, dark world for the rest of my life?

I got so caught up worrying about the surgery, that I completely forgot to hope – or pray – for a miracle.  When friends…

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