Why it’s Important for me to be Open About my Mental Health

I was quiet for so long, but that wasn’t helping anyone, especially me.

I think it is very important for people to talk more openly about their mental health issues. Because the more we normalize it the more we reduce the stigma that unfortunately still surrounds it. Continuing to keep it a secret and feeling embarrassed or shameful about it only helps the stigma stick around. And guess what, there is nothing embarrassing or shameful about having an illness. Any illness. 

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However, I do understand that some people suffer in silence because they aren’t mentally prepared to “come out” about their struggles, or they know how a certain person will react. That is why the people who can speak up, should. We can be a voice for those that can’t speak up yet, and hopefully be the inspiration for them to eventually speak up.

For me, I had such a hard time being open about it. I feared judgement from my family and friends. I still haven’t exactly told everyone yet, but it’s not something I am going out of my way to hide either. Just like a person with diabetes doesn’t need to announce their illness to everyone, but they have no problem saying they have it if the topic comes up.

I make a point of speaking very casually about it now. I used to be a little hushed when I brought it up, my tone of voice would change, and you could tell I was feeling a little worried bringing it up. I was still a little embarrassed by it. Talking about it like it’s no big deal, is what will help others realize its no big deal. There’s no need to change how you treat me (unless I bring something up with you specifically) or interact with me. You can still joke around with me, but just have an understanding that my mind works differently.

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To those that have someone in their life with a mental illness, if they are open about it with you, go ahead and ask them questions about it. Don’t get too personal of course, but if I bring up taking my meds, you can ask me a little about them, how they are working for me, if I had any weird side effects, whatever. Just don’t ask why I need to take them, and offer “natural” ways to treat depression. (Seriously!) If someone doesn’t want to answer, respect that of course.

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Basically, the more normal we all make talking about mental illness, the more the stigma will go away. And a little bit of humour can go a long way too!

We Got a Puppy!

So I thought the first post about my time away from the blog would be a positive one! In this past summer we adopted our beautiful puppy, Pixel!

We had been looking for a puppy for a while. The Toronto Humane Society, where I volunteer with the cats, didn’t have any puppies that were available for adoption around that time. So we looked into other animal shelters and online for “accidental litters”. We absolutely didn’t want to go through a breeder, because they are expensive and we weren’t looking for a specific breed. We had a few breeds in mind, and wanted a mix, or, “mutt”.

One day, one my my husband’s co-workers told him she found out about someone who had an accidental litter, and we saw a picture of one of the puppies. So cute! So we contacted the owner of the mother and arranged to meet the puppies.

We met them when they were 5 weeks old. There were 11 of them, and 4 had already been claimed. We met the mother, who was very relaxed and gorgeous. A German Shepherd, Husky mix. And saw a picture of the dad, a Husky, Lab mix. Sitting in a room with 11 tiny puppies running all over the place was so fun! We picked Pixel, she had beautiful markings and we felt something when we held her, verses the others. We knew she was the one!

We picked her up the following week when she was 6 weeks old. I know that’s really early, but they told us that the mother had stopped nursing them already and they were eating dry food. We decided that she may as well come home with us, so she can start getting used to our home, and cats.

It is definitely true that dogs are a lot more work than cats! We found that out very quickly. For the first little while, I would take her to work with me, so that she could go outside a few times a day.

She had a bit of a rough start. When she was 8 weeks old, there was an emergency middle of the night vet run. She had swallowed a rock a couple days earlier, we were giving her special food to hopefully help her pass it. Fortunately, she threw it up, which means it didn’t go through her intestines, but she threw up everything, non stop, and woke us up whimpering. At the emergency vet, it was a long wait, and it’s a rather depressing place, especially at night. But one slightly amusing part of the night happened when the vet was examining her and she had explosive diarrhea, allllll over the vet. So she had to go change her entire outfit.

On top of that, she also had a bad case of kennel cough. It’s a very contagious dog cold/flu. It sounds horrible! We felt bad that there wasn’t much we could do for her on a coughing fit, and that she wasn’t able to play with her friends.

Since then, she has been pretty healthy. There has been the occasional sickness when she has eaten things that didn’t agree with her.

Dogs really have a tendency to get sick more than cats, and overall are a lot more expensive. I love Pixel, and I couldn’t imagine life without her now. But I also wouldn’t recommend someone adopt a dog, or puppy, without giving it a lot of thought. Realize that they are a lot of work and a lot of money.

That being said, she is worth every penny to us! Having a dog is wonderful for so many reasons. They are a wonderful companion who is always happy to see you. Pixel is wonderful at picking up on emotions. And anytime you are really upset, she will be right by your side. She has also, in a way, forced me to get up and go outside more often than I was before. (Although, she is mostly my husband’s responsibility for going outside) I almost always take her outside to socialize with other dogs and then I can socialize with other dog owners.

For the first little while after bringing her home, I took her to work with me at my day job. I work as a design assistant in a custom design boutique. It was a little tough because she didn’t like being alone when she was awake, and if I left her downstairs when I went up to help customers, she would whine. I often kept her upstairs with me when I didn’t have much work downstairs, and customers loved that!

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Right now she is almost 11 months old, with so much energy! She will be turning 1 on May 6th 2018. We are thinking about having a birthday party for her and her “boyfriend” Duke, who is 2 weeks younger, next month.

She has made a wonderful addition to our family, and I’m sure when she starts calming down, the cats will agree with us. Right now they are still a little nervous around her.

You can follow her on Instagram @the_pixel_puppy