Misdiagnosed

I saw my therapist today. I like her, she asks a lot of questions, and she really is qualified to help me unlike that other therapist. However, today was one of the most emotional days I have had in a while. Ups and downs, and then some news that I have been misdiagnosed all these years.

In Grade 2, I was diagnosed with ADHD. That was about 20 years ago. I didn’t know what that meant, all I knew was that my brain functioned at a higher level than everyone else’s. My brain thought faster.

Turns out, I DO NOT have ADHD, or I have this along with another mental illness: Bipolar Disorder Type II or Cyclothymia.  Both of these disorders are manic depression disorders that affect the mood.  My therapist is trying to figure out which disorder I have, but I don’t just have major depression (aka chronic depression), OCD and/or ADHD behaviors. I could also have obsessive compulsive habits, which many people have told me I do, but I would like a proper diagnosis. See, I was misdiagnosed before with chronic depression. Apparently, that is not the case.

I had an emotional day, and I’m ready to just collapse in a heap of confusion with my big yellow boy.

SilkFlowers

4-12-13 Here are some silk flowers I found at my therapist’s office

Oh, before I jump off – I found this poem on Darcy’s blog and it really describes how I feel sometimes. I sometimes have to fake it to make it.

I quite like myself
slouched over a television with a broken remote,
pale skin alive with glowing colors
at 3:33 in the morning

I think I am at my best
when I am hovered
over the kitchen sink just after dark
running hot water
over my raw fingers

I feel great
when I am sprawled across my bed
crying before I even wake up
sun pushing, unwanted,
through a dirty window

I am very happy with who I am
I say aloud in the car
all alone
while I consider driving into a tree
I am very happy with who I am

 

Doggie Sitting Checkers

Well, I said this blog was coming, and I meant it.  The story of the Pointer I was watching for a few days.

My friend adopted a German Short-Haired Pointer a few weeks ago from a very high kill shelter. They had him for 3 days before they asked me to babysit. They wanted me to doggie-sit (while I had the cute little border collie puppy as well) from Sunday to Wednesday night. I thought this was a great opportunity to get experience with another breed, and work with a shelter dog. I knew this was going to be a pretty significant challenge, especially because this boy was in the shelter for whopping 2 weeks!!

If you work with rescue or shelter dogs, you know how much work they can be, even after being in the shelter for a few days! I was completely unprepared! This boy was a full time job!

Checkers1First thing I noticed: very high energy. This makes it very difficult because I have a high energy dog as well, so managing 2 high strung dogs was the most exhausting thing I have done so far! Boy, what did I get myself into? Well, to make matters even more challenging, he had some aggression towards Napoleon. Nothing I couldn’t handle, it wasn’t severe, and it wasn’t like ‘I’m going to kill you’ aggression. It was because he is un-socialized, and I don’t think he had been around many other dogs before.

Now, I can pick out rude behaviors now [some of them, I’m learning], and immediately saw that Checkers was challenging Napoleon for rank, challenging him to a fight. Napoleon, just ignored him, being the submissive dog he was. Well, Checkers didn’t back down, making Napoleon’s hackles rise up. I also noticed his ears went back, head up, and the lip raising started. That’s when I separated them.

Checkers, again, not being socialized, didn’t care that we were done with the introduction. He was jumping like a maniac, and started snarling at Napoleon. So, I fitted him with a basket muzzle I had on hand. I’m glad I had one! I don’t handle aggression in my training, and this dog has absolutely nothing to do with my business or my training. He was a friend’s dog, and I was asked to watch him for a few days. Just want that to be clearly written here.

Anyway, now that the boys had a chance to be nice, and failed, we left Napoleon outside, and I decided it was time for Checkers to come inside. Just from the first few minutes of being inside, I realized again – un-socialized and has never been inside a house. Out of control jumping on furniture, bolting around the house, and jumping all over the walls. So, on a tether the entire time he was with us.

PetConvincer

My fault. This is what happens when I left something in reach of him getting to it. He completely tore it apart. I’m glad he didn’t get the CO2 container!

Even on the tether, we had to watch him 24/7. He dug at the carpets, chewed on the drywall, baseboards, couches, wired crate, and dug inside the plastic crate while chewing through the holes on the sides. I couldn’t go upstairs for 5 minutes without him. Also, not potty trained. So, again- reason to tether and keep him watched all the time.

Oh, crate training. Yeah – NOT crate trained, and suffers from severe separation anxiety to the point of self-mutilation. He chewed his feet, and chewed the bars until his teeth hurt. So, I switched him to a heavy duty plastic crate instead of a wired crate. This curbed the high pitched whining and constant barking. We had use soft music, a blanket over the crate (which he destroyed), and essential oils just to get him to calm down. We fed meals in the crate, and eventually, I would close the door to my office, and let him roam. He would go in the kennel willingly to rest. Total time of active training to get this achievement: 30 hours. The family says he is accepting the crate very well now, which is awesome. I’m glad I was able to work on this with him.

Is he neutered, you ask? Of course not-the shelter doesn’t do that before they adopt them out. Well, high kill shelters, at least! We also believe he was around 2 years old, meaning he was in his ‘prime’ and was mounting everything. Couches, beds, Napoleon, me, the wall, the air, etc.

Corrections: He did not respond well to any corrections using the Halti. Absolutely no regard for personal space, and would knock you over to get where he wanted to go. He would jump over Napoleon or a couch to get to where he wanted to go. Also, another reason to keep him on a lead. He didn’t ever slow down. Took 4 full days of training, but I curbed the jumping on furniture as well as jumping on people. I used the Pet Convincer, as well as verbal corrections, and he caught on fairly quickly. The Pet Convincer was incredibly effective for correcting him, and eventually I didn’t need to use it anymore, and just used verbal corrections. I think the total amount of active training hours spent was around 8.

Checkers2He was incredibly noise sensitive, and would hide underneath our end table. Not extra loud noises even, like a motorcycle, but things like the TV, washing machine, dish washer, doorbell, garage door, toilet flushing, etc. He got plenty of exposure to this, as I had to stay home with him for a few days because he was so self-destructive while I was gone.

How did he do with my cats? No go. Nada. Neit. Not even close to being ok. Incredibly high prey drive. With his energy level, and the level of aggression he had towards a dog twice his size, I just didn’t even bother with doing introductions for my cats. I was also worried because he chased a bird in the back yard and scaled my fence! Yes, he scaled my 7 foot fence, and went into my neighbor’s yard where he scared and scared the shit out of my neighbor’s small little dogs. Ok, so now he has to be tethered when he is outside in the backyard. Can’t let him off the leash ever. What a handful!

So, of the 4 days we had him, I think it was frustrating but successful. I didn’t plan on doing any training, but it turns out I had to, since he was just completely out of control in my house.

My personal accomplishments with this boy:

-Learned that sometimes, all it takes is switching something in the environment (wire crate to plastic crate)
-Reinforced the age-old comment of ‘Not all dogs are the same’
-Learned more about shelter dogs and un-socialized behavior
-Gained practice in really paying attention to canine behavior while in the presence of another dog
-Learned what ‘Board and Train’ means when I finally decide to do that (years away right now)
-Curbed jumping on furniture and people within 4 days.
-Started crate training
-By the time he left my house, I believe he was fully potty trained. Only one accident, and then he went to the door on his own afterwards…if I gave him the chance. Normally he was tethered.
-Started working on chewing on inappropriate objects with some success
-Successfully introduced Napoleon and Checkers after quite a lot of patience and small introductions. Video below is them playing in an acceptable manner.
-Met a dog who doesn’t respond to the Halti. A prong collar might have been better for this boy. But, I didn’t have one, so I couldn’t try.

Due to my level of experience, and how much time I have available currently to work with a dog like this, I have recommend another trainer take this case. I already have my hands full with another boy, who is making tremendous progress after 6 months of training. Updates on my boy, soon to come!

Here is a video of them finally achieving calm[er] play.

Roller Coaster

urlJust within the past day, I have gone from a decently content mood to the high peaks of Happy Mountain. When I get to be this happy, I tend to start waiting for the cliff of sadness to take over. Well, as it always does, it did. For no reason. I have no reason to feel sad. But I do anyways. STOP IT BRAIN!

I woke up early this morning and wasn’t able to fall back asleep. I took an extra long hot shower, decided not to do my hair, and make coffee instead. Mmm, yes. I do love coffee in the morning. Especially when I have time to add an extra kick to it! No, I’m not talking about vodka. Though Bailey’s would have been a good start to the day. I added cinnamon instead! It really kick started my morning. But I do still think Bailey’s would have been better.

Work was busy, so I was happy I was able to down a few cups of coffee in the morning before heading in to the office. I was working so much, I forgot to eat, so I had a late lunch. On my walk over to pick up an extra-delicious vegetarian sandwich at a deli nearby, I started to realize I have had a pretty good day so far. Which means… at some point in the future, I would feel sad. It’s a pattern that always seems to happen when I’m extra productive, or when I realize I’m actually feeling happy.

Maybe it’s a premonition of the future – because it always seems to happen. Or, maybe I make this happen by thinking it will happen. Either way, I know it’s coming.

So, I’m now on the lookout for signs of things that could ruin my day. It’s like I’m a detective, interrogating every person who might be hiding something, or an archeologist looking for treasures invisible to the unseen eye. Ok, that archeologist part was going a bit far, but I get pretty paranoid.

Work goes by without a hitch, and I realize I’m late for my training appointment. Great. This is it, I’m going to break down. I’m late, late, LATE!

No, this can’t be it. I’ll only be 5 minutes late, it will be fine. Ok, *breathe*

Got to my appointment 5 minutes late, and there was a time conflict. The client was having family over at that particular time, so I decided to work with Ryder on my own. No, he is not my only client, I promise! He is just my project boy, so I write about him a lot. He has come a long way, and I could tell today.

He still has a ways to go before he doesn’t need me anymore, but I’m so happy at his progress. Sometimes, it feels like he has gone backwards. Not this time!

We went on a walk by ourselves, so the client could chat with the visitors. This would have been relaxing, if it wasn’t so damn cold! The wind was fierce, and the bitter cold stung my nose and hands. But, I was determined to see Ryder’s progress within the last week. Honestly, each week, he’s marginally better. Slow progress, but he is a stubborn dog and also, my most challenging client. He is very strong-willed, and determined to be the leader. But, he is showing massive improvements, and I only had to give him a command once for him to obey.

I just kept remembering when we went to the outside social 2 weeks ago, and how wonderful he did. He was considerably less pushy than at the indoor social, and didn’t once try to get too close to a human. He tried to play with the other dogs, but he’s not quite ready to be off the leash yet in class, so this wasn’t going to work. Anyway, just reminiscing. Back to today’s adventures.

Once we got back, I was giving him some love on his ears, and I noticed he really didn’t like me touching his right ear. He started to mouth me, and try to get away from me. RED FLAG went up, and I checked his ear. Sure enough – ear infection. And a nasty one!

Later that evening, the client mentioned that his ‘lipstick’ was sticking out and hadn’t gone back in about a week! YIKES! Checked it out, definitely needs a vet. The family was asking me questions that I didn’t know the answer to (as I don’t have medical training), and called my awesome at home vet.

I don’t recommend any other vets because he has impressed me so much with how much he cares about the animals. Anyway, he said it was life threatening and pretty serious. He wanted them to take Ryder to the ER. Well, that wasn’t really an option, so we set up an appointment to have the vet come take a look-see tomorrow evening, in which I will be present. Ryder has some issues towards men, and as it has gotten better, it is still a concern.

This put a little bit of a cloud over my head, and another ‘warning’ as to the upcoming wave of sadness. Again, it’s like I have no control over these things, and even though there is nothing we can do right this second, it’s still hard to hear that this was serious and he needed immediate treatment.

Now that the session is over, I was on my way home, and the ‘end of the day droop’ started to settle in. Once I got home, it was like the shadow that was lurking so closely behind me, finally engulfed my entire mind, and I was lost.

Home is a safe place. I can be lost in my own home without feeling like I really am lost. I try to go to sleep. I stare at the ceiling. I play on my phone. I get bored, I find my husband – on his computer. Tell him I can’t sleep. He offers to snuggle. But I don’t want to. I want to blog. It helps. I’m ready to put this day to rest, and start over this roller coaster ride tomorrow.

Lonely_bench

 

After the Rain

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4/5/2013 Rain in April

Yesterday, I finally cracked. I broke down at work. I cried in front of a coworker.

Yes, that was quite embarrassing, as you can imagine. I don’t normally make a habit out of crying in front of people.

Anyway… yesterday was another ‘down’ day.

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My first flower of the season. 4/5

However, today, I see a break coming. I have spoken to my new therapist, and had my assessment today. I like her so far. She listened, didn’t judge, and seems like she wants to help.  My last therapist gave me silly exercises to work on that didn’t help and actually made things worse. That’s why I stopped going. Now, I need to work on me, and get back in the game…the ‘healing’ game.

We have discussed future plans and a treatment plan, and I want to see what she comes up with. I was honest, and as hard as it was, I was open. Very open. I’m glad my husband came with me for moral support. He listened, and jumped in when I forgot something, or when he needed to add in a detail that I missed.

I’m happy he is so supportive of everything that I do. I don’t know how I would get through some of my issues without him.

So, in light of today’s rain, I am using it as an excuse to start over, per se. I want to work on healing, and I’m ready to put in the emotional work on myself to be happy with myself, and who I am. I have to stop letting one particular individual break me down. I climb up, get some confidence, and then I am broken down again.

I have to learn how to not let people’s words hurt me as much as they do. ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.’ is a lie. Those words do hurt… but I have to be a wall, a rubber wall, and let those words bounce off. It is hard when you respect someone so much, when you look up to them so much… then they break you down. I work up the courage to ask for help, and then when I finally do… I’m insulted, burned, and smashed back into the ground. Then, I have to pick myself up and put myself through the same thing again and again.

Why?

Why do I do this? I have asked this time and time again. My husband has asked this. Why do I keep coming back for more and more abuse? …because I respect this person. Because I look up to this person. Because this person has worked so hard to get the business she wanted. Because I want to be as successful as this person. Because this person is an inspiration to me, and I feel I should take the abuse. I should throw money at this person and have them teach everything they know to me.

4/5 Rain through my screen

4/5 Rain through my screen

What do I feel about this person?

-Intimidation
-I feel small when I talk to this person
-I freeze, can’t speak, can’t think logically
-Insignificant
-Like I won’t amount to anything
-I don’t know anything about my career… like I am a fraud.
I feel scared of this person

Does anyone have the same feelings about another person? How do you handle your feelings? What have you done to keep it together when speaking to him/her?

 

Vulnerable

brickwallYou know the feeling of mentally drowning? The feeling of the world pressing down on you so much that it makes you feel so small, unimportant, and helpless?

Ok, maybe some of you don’t. This feeling makes me feel like it’s better for the world if I just cease to exist. It has been a while since I have thought about suicide.

Well, that feeling came back again today. And thoughts of my own demise comforted me. It’s like a security blanket, that when the world suffocates me, I at least have these feelings of release. An out, if you will.

I can’t seem to not cry. I can’t stop. The tears fall, and the thoughts start up again. And because my spouse doesn’t understand the feeling of having the comforting feeling of suicide, he says I’m selfish for thinking that way. Now making me feel guilty, once again. It’s not his fault. But… I don’t have anyone else.

It seems easier to not say anything at all.

I’m not judged. I die inside silently where no one can see. Sometimes, I feel so brave to ask for help, to talk about my emotions and expose a vulnerable part of me. And it seems, all too often, I’m poked with an electric stick and I regret talking at all.

This stems from mistakes that were made. Mistakes that were my fault solely. I take responsibility for my actions, I always have. However, I also take on more than I handle. This isn’t the first time, and it isn’t the last. This is a mistake I will continue to make. Because I challenge myself. Sometimes, I put myself in positions where I set myself up to fail. This is one of those times.

When I make a mistake, I can admit it, and I can learn from it. When I make a bunch of mistakes all around the same time, or on the same day, it builds up. I wish it would go away, and I could crawl in a hole and just have the world pass me by.

But I can’t, and it doesn’t stop. It seems I finally get into a mental state of ‘peace’ or whatever, and then one thing happens, then another. I’m overwhelmed, then I make a mistake. All the problems are unrelated, but in turn – they are related. And all of a sudden, my mental state crumbles and the brick wall protecting me is gone.

I’m a snail without its shell, and I’m sitting in the sun, baking. Can’t get into the grass, and can’t protect myself. Someone has to come save me or I will die.

I think it’s time to call my therapist again. I’m sinking back into the darkness. Again, and the nightmares started again last night.  No sleep. No dreams, just the demon. Back again from the graveyard of my mind. I thought I had buried that guilt so far into my mind that I wouldn’t see him again.

If I could take a vacation, I wouldn’t use it to travel or to do something fun. I would use it to take care of myself, and go to a mental institution to have someone fix the way I think.

Is that possible? To have someone just get in there, pop the hood, and change the oil? … in a brain? I hope so… because mentally, I’m done. I’m just going to let the thoughts of suicide comfort me for now. I’ll let the tears fall, and have some of myself die in the process.

I’m surprised I have any pieces left. I should just be an empty shell of a person by now.

Temp Foster Puppy

GunnerI had a rare opportunity to foster a puppy for a few days until his new foster mom came to pick him up. I had him for only Saturday morning to Sunday night, but all the same, it was a real great opportunity. At the same time, I had volunteered to help out a friend and babysit his new dog for 4 days. Which means, I would have a house full of dogs for a few days. I’m all good with that!

The puppy: a young 2-3 month old (I was told 3 months, but his size seemed like he should be younger than that) male border collie/lab mix. He was such a cute little guy, who was GREAT at all his training! I had spent some time with him before this weekend, so I knew a bit of his background. I worked with him previously, and he responded to training very quickly. By the time the foster mom came to pick him up, he had learned a few more things:

photo (1)

-He had almost stopped nipping completely
-Knew proper social cues when playing with other dogs
-Was introduced to cats, and he did great!
-Had only 1 accident, and that was my fault, anyway. I didn’t get there in time.
-Didn’t whine/bark in the crate anymore
-Wasn’t picking up inappropriate objects in the house anymore
-Was comfortable with being held in any way
-Jumping up was dramatically reduced
-While tethered/left to be by himself for a minute, he was lying down quietly learning to be independent.

I miss that little guy. SO CUTE! If I only had enough time to foster him, I would have! L

However, I was (and still am) also babysitting another furbaby. My friend’s new dog, an English Pointer. Such a cool dog! Now, I’ll tell you all about him on Thursday, as he is with us until Wednesday night. Stay tuned!


I really should just get my boarder’s license! I baby-sit so often, but I LOVE IT!

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