Friday Mental Health Check-in – Impostor Syndrome
I’ve had several people reach out to ask if I’m okay and why I haven’t been putting my Friday Mental Health Check-Ins up for several weeks. I tried and tried to figure out an answer that doesn’t sound awful, but as usual, I have to go with the truth: I’ve been feeling like a fraud.
Who am I to offer advice and help on mental health when I have so many days where just getting out of bed is so very, very hard? I should shut up and go back to the fetal position on the couch and let other, smarter, more qualified people talk about this stuff. Or, at least, that’s what my depression is telling me.
But we all know that Depression Lies. And I’ve been trying to remind myself of that for a while now. Here’s what happened to me: my beloved pug, Daisy, was sick. She turned 14 in December and although she’d been deaf for a couple of years, she was in pretty good shape, but then suddenly, she wasn’t. She started to go downhill, fast. She was having a hard time breathing and she wouldn’t eat unless I hand fed her specially cooked homemade turkey and rice or bits of chicken and even then she wouldn’t eat much.
We kept trying, so hard, to keep her with us, until the time, in early January, when we knew it wasn’t fair to her to keep her here any longer. So we made an appointment with my lovely old Irish vet, who calls Daisy his ‘wee puggie lassie’ and we said goodbye. I cried and cried and cried, for an entire day, until my family was worried about me.
And then I had to get back to work.
You see, I have this insane schedule of
12 books in 12 months (13/13 if you count Christmas, 2017) so I didn’t have time to grieve. I stuffed it all away and I got back to work. And then, when the work was done, I fell apart.
And here I am, still having a hard time coping.
Daisy picked me out when she was six weeks old. She kept pushing her brothers and sisters out of my lap when we went to choose a puppy. We’d been planning to get a boy, but she was having none of that. She’s been with me ever since. She moved from Florida to Virginia with us, and back to Florida. She traveled the country on vacation with us. She moved to Japan with us, evacuated with us after the nuclear meltdown, and then went back to Japan with us. She moved back to Florida with us.
I wrote her into a book. I bought her a doggy stroller when the trip around the block was too much. I told her secrets and shared my successes and cried hard tears on her silky fur when things were bad.
And now she’s gone.
Every day, I reach down under my desk to pet her before I realize she’s not there. I call my other two dogs Daisy before I remember. I love Riley and Penny, but one pet is not a replacement for another. Love doesn’t work that way.
I don’t know how to make it quit hurting so much.
I’m trying to tell myself that it’s okay, that this too will pass,
that the pain will lessen and fade until only the love remains, because I’ve had dogs all my life, and their lives are too short, so this is not my first broken heart.
But I don’t know how to offer a mental health check-in when mine is a little bit precarious right now. I’m going to try, because the whole point of these was to make us feel like we have a community of support, and I’m sorry I’ve let you down for the past weeks. I’m back now, and I’m going to try again.
So, please. Tell me how you’re doing. Remember you’re not alone. Remember that depression lies.
I’ll try very hard to do the same.
Alyssa I have NO advice on how to ease the pain of your loss and thereby ease your grief. I also had “let go” of dear pets. They were truly the light of my life (next to husband and children that is). It’s been about 15 years since the last one was eased into her hereafter…..when I stop and dwell on it I still cry. The difference is…..you still have your wonderful supportive husband, son and daughter who are, if not for being away at,school, still home,with you. Take that and savour it like you would your favourite dessert…for it is even MORE precious (I’m not trying to diminish or downplay your grief because it IS REAL and painful). Grieving is different for everyone for different losses. It takes time. Immortalizing Daisy in your books is paying her the tribute she so deserves. I’m my honest opinion…..you love, honour and respect your characters and your novels very much….it is apparent in your stories and posts…..that being said she is and will always be with you and a part of you even if not physically at the very least spiritually.
In another thought it is not so much your “advice” in your posts as much as it is YOUR POST itself. Also to put yourself and feeling OUT THERE for all of us to see and read…..it is indeed one of the BRAVEST and COURAGEOUS acts I’ve ever seen.
Thank you for WHO YOU ARE. Honest, real, admirable, talented, loving, kind, generous and last but not least…..a GREAT MOTHER AND SUPPORTING WIFE AND FABULOUSLY TALENTED AUTHOR whose books allow the rest of us the opportunity to escape the trials and tribulations of this upside-down, inside-out world we live in.
Awww. Thanks, Dee. You are awesome, too. xoxo
Alyssa, thank you for sharing. I have been having a very hard time getting out of bed myself. My depression keeps telling me I’m a burden, useless, undeserving of happiness, a disappointment, etc. My therapist says it’s all lies, and to take care of myself.
Please try to tell yourself you have not let us down, you are trying to take care of yourself the best way you can. Sometime I think that means not getting out of bed.
Karen, please take care of yourself. We will be gentle with ourselves until we’re ready to fight again, okay?
I have no advice on how to ease the pain. They tell you it gets easier, honestly in my personal opinion. That is a load of crap. I lost my brother to suicide 15 years ago March. It’s not gotten easier, you just find a way to go on. Big hugs to you My heart breaks for you. I know Daisy is with you though you can’t see her.
All my love to you. xoxo
You have gotten me and my husband through many dark moments. Not just because I love your books, but because of the special person you are. We lost our two old dogs within a few days of each other. My husband I were heartbroken. The male mixed breed was given to us at a few weeks of age. He had been rejected by his mother. We raised him on Espilac and goat’s milk. He took tuns sleeping with us to get eye droppers full of nourishment ito his sytem. He was our baby. The last 5 years of his life he took ant-inflammatory medicine. He had severe arthritus in his hips. The medication allowed him to live a good quality life. The female mixed breed had been our son’s dog. She came into his life when a roommate adopted her as a pup. First my son paid for shots and treatments for puppy as loans never repaid. Then the roomate started having problems affording dog food. My son bought food for the dog. Then roommate moved away leaving the dog with him. When my son moved because the building was sold, he couldn’t have a dog where he moved. We took his dog, she was a lovely older dog full of love and devoted to our son. Her and our male became the best of friends. When our son stopped coming to visit (because he died of a heart attack), she stopped eating. She had started to recover from that loss when our male died. Within a few days she died also. We believe this second loss was just to much for her. My husband thought he would never recover from this either. While checking for our neighbors missing cat at a high kill shelter in a neighboring city, he encountered a couple of young men turning in mixed breed male about 6 weeks of age. The attendant told him that if the pup was left there he would automatically be euthanized because he looked like a pitbull mix. He asked if the attendant could put a hold on the pup and he would go home and ask me about adoption. The attendant said it would be dead by the time he came back the next morning. He took the pup from the people turning him in. Max is now 6 months old. He is totally different than our previous baby. In fact he is so totally different and unique, and just what we needed. I believe got sent us exactly what we needed and in a way we couldn’t refuse. Grieve as long as you need, but remember their is a pup who needs you when you are ready to love again.
Sharon that pup was so lucky to find you. All my love.
You are not alone. I enjoy your mental health checks. Depression is no joke. In today’s world just asking can help. Take care and take your time to grieve. We will wait.
It is wonderful to see the small tidbits about princess navy guy and the rest. Your process about combining work and family is inspiring. Thank you for the wonderful escapes with your books.
You are wonderful talented and loved.
Laurie, thanks so much. xoxo
Depression is such an insidious bitch! I’ve dealt with it for 30+ years, and it seems like the ‘good’ days are so few and far between. The best band-aid I’ve ever found is turning up the music and dancing with abandon for a few minutes every day. If there’s no time for dancing, I sing…even if it’s badly. Does it get rid of my depression? Of course not! What it is, to me at least, is a few minutes of unadulterated joy every day. The days I can’t get out of bed, 80s pop or Motown help. Is it always enough to get me out of bed? Nope! But sometimes, just sometimes, it does. Even when it doesn’t, an old favorite can make me smile and that’s a victory. Take the small victories and let them build you up. Nothing is going to get rid of the depression all the time, but a few minutes of joy every day makes it easier to keep going. Never give up and remember you are loved by many.
I love this idea. Going to try it!
My heart breaks for you, and the loss of your lovely Daisy. I lost my Piper a couple of years ago. Hyper Piper was a more accurate name for her. Although at sixteen years she has finally calmed down a bit. Instead of focusing on the pain of her loss, I try to celebrate her life and how she enriched mine and others. When I want to cry for the loss of her, I start purposely thinking of special of funny moments with her. The tears might still flow, but they are joined by a smile. Eventually, the smiles last longer than the tears. Most of the time.
As for your mental health check-ins. Thank you so much for making the effort and showing us your love and support by reaching out. I don’t expect you to have all the answers. I look at the check-ins as a community of support. Sometimes knowing that you care and that others are going through similar trials, helps me fight the depression or just accept that I didn’t win the fight today, but there is always tomorrow or the next hour.
You are a joy and a gift. Remember you are loved and appreciated, and Daisy will be with you in your heart and memories.
Thanks, Tamye. xoxo
I’m so sorry. I know how you felt about her.
Thanks honey. I’m so glad Dulcie made it!
Don’t feel like your less because you don’t feel up to giving advice.
The community of people you have created here is wonderful. People who understand what the others are going through. I’m very glad your created this space. For me personally it gives me a place to go where , if i need it, I can talk to people who are going through similar feels. Where i can feel I’m not alone.
Thank you for all of it. From the bottom of my heart. <3
Losing a pet is just as difficult as losing people in your life. And it should be difficult! It should break your heart to let Daisy go free. What you’re feeling is perfectly natural and a testament to what Daisy meant to you. Because it’s taking you longer to bounce back? Grief doesn’t have a schedule. We lost 4 babies between our first quasi evil born and the second evil born. And we grieved those babies—to the point where I stopped fertility treatments and said to myself, thank goodness we had Renae when we did, no more kids, I can’t bear the pain. And then our second quasi evil offspring came. When I wasn’t looking. And do I still grieve my other four? Oh my YES. We had to put our beloved lab Bosephus to sleep two September’s ago, and I’m still calling for him when food ends up on the floor in the kitchen, or when Astro goes chasing after a rabbit, I’ll call for big Bo to bring his little brother home. He still feals near, like your Daisy does. The veil is a gentle passage. Her essence, spirit if you will, that energy doesn’t leave us. She’s still an essential part of you. So you still feel her, just like I still feel my big Bosephus and my four angel babies. Because in some ephemeral way they are still with us. So I talk to them from time to time. Let them know I think of them that I still love them. Today I’m going to meet a woman with our Astro and see if he gets on with a little pup just like him. And if he does, I’ll bring her home so she knows that same love and complete adoration our Bosephus did. It’s the best way I can think of to make sure he knows I haven’t really stopped loving and believing that someday, I’ll rub his ears again and get my knees bruised from his tail whipping me. Because I intend to love so much it this life, I’ll be guaranteed to go to a reward where he’ll be waiting for me. So it’s okay to cry and curl up and take me time. Daisy understands even if everyone else doesn’t. And I just wiped my own tears away, because I could just FEEL big Bo put his head on my knee. So we’lll be okay, you and I. It’s not the getting down that defines us. It’s the getting back up.
Hugs to you. And I love that—it’s the getting back up.
Not a fraud. One of the least fraud-y (how’d you like that word?) people I know. Your honesty about your struggle with depression has made me feel less alone as I wrestle my own. Your heartbreak over the loss of your darling little friend has made it feel MORE okay that I still cry over the ones that have gone before me. So even in the darkest times, A, you are using your gift of words to touch others. I don’t know if having this beautiful thing pointed out helps at all, but on the bad days, at least let it float through your mind. <3
Losing a fur baby is one of the hardest things to go through. My dear dachshund has been gone for 4 years, and I still miss him terribly. They are our best friend, we tell them things we don’t tell anyone else, and they help use through our rough times the way no one else can.
I know saying it gets better is such a cliche. I can now talk about the funny times with Oscar and feel less loss. I still miss him with all my heart and will never forget the 17 years with him.
Grieve however you need to grieve.