Shaddup Already!


February Sucks

Three years ago my perception of February changed forever. Now, as we enter this evil month, I find myself buried in the depths of depression. I know I will find my way out, but right now it seems like a long shot.

I have had my medication adjusted, starting today. So hopefully I will see an improvement soon.

I don't know if other clinically depressed people feel this way, but I wonder how I will be able to tell if the med change is working. It seems like I've been living in this funk for so long (the relapse started several months ago, it just reached a critical stage over the last couple of weeks) that it has become the norm. I know from experience that when the fog lifts, I will see a difference. Just now, it seems impossible that life can be any different than it is now.

The one thing I am eternally grateful for is that I have not been suicidal in 17 years. And even when I did have suicidal thoughts, I never wanted to die--I knew then that I was begging for attention.

Anyway, for those keeping score, this is why my February sucks:

My grandmother died three years ago yesterday. I was very close to her. She seemed like a second mother to me. I have often been compared to her when talking about her spunk and stubborness. I've always taken that as a compliment.

She was never the kind of grandmother to spoil us with things or money, but she did spoil us in other ways.

Homebaked bread was her specialty. Whenever she made it for us, she saved some of the dough for my sister and I to make fried bread with. She helped us form the bread dough into letters or shapes, then she would drop it in a pan. When it came out all warm and gooey, she would pour maple syrup on our plates and let us dive in.

She also taught me an awful lot about plants. She was willing and eager to share he knowledge of plants with me anytime I asked.

And birds, she loved bird watching. I didn't find out until later that she had a fear of birds, so she would never have a pet one. She would spend a great deal of time pointing out cardinals and blue jays--telling me why the males were more colorful than the females. And through an experience that my grandmother didn't control, I started relating the sound of a mourning dove to her. I never noticed the cry of the bird when I was at home, but it woke me every morning that I spent visiting my grandmother. I love that sound, it reminds me of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata--hauntingly beautiful.

Two years ago today my cat, Connie, died.

It was somewhat unexpected, but not totally. She had been sick, but the vet couldn't find anything wrong with her. Then on February 1st, she couldn't breathe. It turns out that her lung spontaneously collapsed. This happens in cats more frequently than you'd think.

I didn't expect to lose her, but I knew when I took her to the emergency clinic on the night of February 1st that she wouldn't survive this. She was telling me in the way a long-time pet communicates with their owner. So I knew. I didn't verbalize it, but I wasn't all that surprised when the emergency vet called me at around 3:00 in the morning to tell me she was gone.

My only regret is that I didn't say goodbye to her. I knew she wasn't going to make it and instead of asking to see her before I left, I just left. I think I was afraid that by saying goodbye, I would be causing her death. It's silly, I know, but that's the way the human mind works sometimes.

Three years ago on February 25, I had my dog euthanized. This was the dog I got when I was 18 and she was with me for almost 13 years.

She and I became one in many people's minds--including my own. I was often recognized places as "Destiny's Mom." I never minded that. She was outgoing, I'm shy. It was a perfect match. I made friends I never would have without her around to break the ice.

I have a lot of guilt around her death as well. I fought for a long time trying to convince someone that she was really in pain. She was very stoic and difficult to read. Anyone who didn't know her well took her to be quite young and spry. But she just wasn't right.

In the comfort of my home, she would shiver in pain/fear, but when I took her to the vet or even to my mom's, she would put on a front. When my mom finally saw her shivering, she (my mom) freaked out and realized why I was so scared and worried.

It was assumed that her arthritis was getting worse and the pain was located in her back. She was sent for an ultrasound to rule out anything else--we were all confident these results would come back negative.

It turned out she had a tumor that was on the verge of perforating her small intestine. She went in to emergency surgery and had it successfully removed. She didn't bounce back from the surgery very well, though. Where most animals are released from the hospital within a day or two of even the biggest surgeries, Destiny had to stay a week.

They sent her home on Christmas Eve day--the best gift I've ever been given. She felt better, but she was never the same. She was guarded about her body being touched and would no longer lie on her back (one of her favorite sleeping positions). This surgery experience and the two foot long scar had taken its toll on her sense of security.

She did really well until the beginning of February. Then she started feeling low again. She didn't want to play and was acting more like an elderly dog than I had ever seen.

By the middle of February, I finally acknowledged that something was wrong again. I had been in denial and I feel horrible for that. I regret the pain I put her through because I couldn't face the fact that she was sick again.

This time they found a liver full of tumors. There was nothing that could be done, but more importantly, I promised Destiny I wouldn't put her through another major surgery again. She was almost 13 years old and she didn't need to go through the pain.

I scheduled to have her euthanized on a Friday that I took off work. Tuesday night it became clear that it was unfair to make her wait that long. I couldn't take the next day off from work, so my mother took her in and stayed with her through the end. And I feel guilty that I wasn't there for her.

My only consolation is the "message" I received from her the next day. I used to have this bobble head Siberian husky on my car's dashboard. Even though it wasn't white, I considered it my miniature Destiny. When I parked my car, I always checked the bobble head to make sure it was where it should be on the dash and that it was sitting upright. So I know I did that Wednesday evening. The next morning when I got in my car, the bobble head was lying on it's side. I don't question it too much because I do believe it was a little message from Destiny letting me know she is okay.

I do believe that my Februaries will continue to be a difficult month for me. I just try to stay optimistic that it will become less and less difficult as the years separate me from the pain and allow me to hold on to the good memories.

Hug your loved ones and your pets today. Tell them how special they are and continue to follow your heart when it comes to caring for them. That's all any of us can do.

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