In August of that year, I thought I was doing okay. I honestly did, which is another thing Depression does. It lies to you, making you think you’re fine and then punches you in the gut and brings you right back to where it wants you. The truth was, I had not gotten anywhere with my writing. I was still unemployed, and there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of hope in sight. I was trying to keep positive among the constant feeling of dread that was invading my mind as acutely as it ever had. All this lead to Labour Day weekend, which looking back was the tipping point of my life.
That summer, my dog Karla started having health problems. Now, to preface this a little bit, my parents have been breeding and showing Lhasa Apsos for over thirty years, so I’ve had a lot of dogs in my life, and as with anyone growing up with animals, I’ve lost more than a few. Pet owners everywhere of course deal with these losses, but with breeders, there are always more dogs around when the old ones pass away, so the pain is not nearly as sharp (or at least that’s the theory). Karla was special though. She had gotten into a bad dog fight when she was younger, and while she was recovering, she lived in my room. However, when it was time to move her back to the dog room with the others (they each had their own crate of course), my brother had moved back in for a while and set up shop down in our basement, leaving little room for her crate at the time. So, she stayed with me upstairs, and when my brother moved back out, she stayed with me from that point on.
By the summer of 2014, the old injuries from that fight were starting to come back to haunt her. She started getting really bad arthritis and was in a lot of pain all the time. Eventually, we tried starting her with hydrotherapy, but on the first day we tried it, she suffered a stroke. We rushed her to the vet and I was in a whirlpool of pain and anguish. This dog was one of the few good things I had in my life, and watching her deteriorate over the course of that summer was one of the painful experiences of my life. That ride to the vet was the longest car ride I’ve ever been on, and as I was sitting there, watching her breath shallowly, I just wanted the pain to stop.
In response to these feelings, and I don’t fully understand why I did this even today, I pulled out my phone... and I texted Jamie. I told her what was happening, I guess I wanted support or something, but as I wrote the message I just broke down. After nearly nine months, I finally told her the truth of what happened to me that January. I told her I had wanted to kill myself on New Year’s Day, and that I had repressed the memory. I then realized that I hadn’t told her because I didn’t want her to think less of me. I told her that she deserved a better friend than someone like me, that I loved her, and goodbye. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was my suicide note, and in my head, I wanted to make sure she knew the truth before I died. And for a few long minutes, I thought very seriously of throwing myself out of that car and ending it all right there. I even turned my phone off so that no one could stop me.
But then, a little voice in my head started screaming at me to turn it back on, and thankfully, I listened to it. As the phone booted up I got a text from Jamie demanding to know where I was. I was stunned. This is the woman whom I had hidden the truth from, put through so much BS, and hurt to the point where she didn’t want anything more to do with me, and there she was, at the lowest point of my life, trying to save me.
I tried to accept her help, but some part of me kept pushing her away. She got tired of it and told me off again (again, I 100% deserved it), and right then I asked myself, “What the hell is wrong with me?” This woman, the person I cared about most, is trying to save my life, and I’m pushing her away? What the hell was wrong with me?
We get to the vet, and given Karla’s condition, I had the option of either putting her down right there, and or giving her the chance to bounce back. I decided to give her the chance, but it didn’t get any better. She had a series of strokes during the night, vomiting every half an hour or so, and by the following afternoon, she was gone. Once again, I was lost in the woods, and I texted Jamie, begging for her help, asking her to tell me what to do, and if that I had made the right call. I’m not going to say publically what was discussed that day, but I will say that Jamie, even after everything I had put her through, told me exactly what I needed to hear to make it through that day.
It was then that I finally admitted to myself that I had Depression, and that I had to deal with it. The truth was that no matter how bad things were I didn’t want to die. I desperately wanted to live, and that was possibly the strangest and most important realizations of my life. So, called my therapist and once I met with him I asked to be put on anti-depressants, and it was the smartest decision I had ever made.
It would be a while until Jamie and I returned to the way we were. All that pain and anger doesn’t just wash away with a few text messages. But on that day, in that moment, she was there when I needed her the most, and if not for her, I might not be here. This is why it is so important in life to surround yourself with good people. That night, I talked to a few more of my friends, Wilson and Lisa among them, and everyone supported my decision to get help, and still do to this day.
2014 may be the most important year of my life. As painful as that year was, I know now that without all that pain, I never would have rediscovered who I was, and what I needed to do to turn my life around.