How My Dog Kept Me Alive


Let’s not beat around the bush. I suffer from depression.

I didn’t want to comment on Robin Williams’ death at first, but I feel that it’s important. Depression is a real issue. There is no joke that even Robin himself could make to repair this.

I abhor anyone who says Robin was a coward, or that he took the easy way out, or even that he “had it his way.” Depression is a disease, one that is treatable and not fake. Depression is not just being sad. Depression is so much more that, and it’s unfortunate that anyone who has never experienced real depression can never truly understand it. In a way, I envy them, actually. But at the same time, I’m glad I’m not among them. I like having the personal insight into this sort of issue.

Several years ago, I went through a kinda-bad breakup. I’m not gonna bitch about it, but I will moan about my own response to it.

Skipping past the violent part (don’t get any ideas, I have never and will never hit a girl, and have only hit male friends mostly in joking manners up to this point), I fell into something that I could only really see in retrospect: manic depression.

Before I tell this story, let me say I’m lucky. Lucky I have my dog.

I would also like to say that I was an idiot. I retaliated to my breakup by making up for the “complete college experience” that I thought I’d missed out on. Though I guess that may be beside the point because I’m not going to go deeper into that subject, but I like to be held accountable for my actions. You are now my accountabilibuddy. You are appreciated.

I walked into a bar. That’s not a joke. I walked into a bar a lot. Oftimes I would walk downtown by myself with no real plans. Usually, I was meeting someone there, else I was going to the comedy club (if it was a Wednesday). A couple times I went by myself, with no intentions of meeting up with anyone. One of those times I made a whole group of friends. They never talked to me after that night and I’ve no idea why.

But to get back to the point, I don’t actually remember when or how all this went down. All I know is I went downtown, came home drunk, and slammed my head against the wall.

Multiple times.

I woke up on my floor multiple times during this time period. I don’t like talking about it. One of those times I ended up with a hole in the wall down by the floor next to the outlet. I don’t remember the circumstances enough to expound.

The point is, I went out, expecting happy. I found happy. I was super happy. I came home, and all I found was sad. And maybe I should just die. This was when I bashed my head into the wall.

I never hit myself hard enough to make lasting damage, but I ended up collapsing on the floor crying. I hated myself and wanted to die.

That was a mantra of mine for awhile. I don’t really know if people have the same type of thing as me, but I have shit that pops up into my head every once in a while. Nothing’s been too bad lately, mostly because things have gotten better for me. But for a time, the phrase “I hate myself and want to die” came to mind at random intervals.

It was weird, because I think I’ve heard it before, and yet it disturbed me to think that it came from anywhere other than my own mind.

So there I was, hating myself and wanting to die, on the floor, my head hurting, bawling. And my dog crawled up next to me.

I raised my dog, Melody, from seven weeks old. She’s five and a half years old now, and at the time she was, oh, three? I don’t really care to remember right now. The important part is that she and I have a pretty deep connection for a human and a dog. She’s my baby, and nothing can change that.

I was crying, and my dog curled up next to me, and that was when I realized that I couldn’t die. That I shouldn’t hate myself because someone needed me. I couldn’t die, not yet. She trusted in me always being there, and there have been (at this writing) only three-ish times that I’ve left her for more than a couple days. I’m a fairly obsessive dog owner, and I relish the fact that my dog welcomes me so openly whenever I get home, especially after a period of extended leave.

Besides, it was so stupid, I was so young. Only, what, twenty-two? My dog was three and yet so full of life and love. She became my inspiration. Hell, more than that – my reason for living.

The saddest thing is that only my dog knew how messed up I was. Only she had the empathy to realize I needed comfort. There’s no shame in not being able to detect depression in others; most times, they don’t want you to know, and they can be very good at hiding it.

I’m not trying to say that the moral of the story is to get a dog. I can’t speak for anyone else but myself. There is always someone or something worth living for. Maybe it’s your loved ones, or maybe it’s yourself, but they’re there. Only you can love them the way you do.

I’ll let the man himself wrap this up for me:

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