Here I am sitting on Southwest flight 281 for the short trip to San Jose. Samuel is at my feet in his new airline-approved pet carrier. This is his first time flying. In the eleven months that we have been together, I haven’t had to use my doctor’s note, which is nice. But I have it just in case. Samuel is my Emotional Support Animal (ESA).
The real question is, who rescued who? I hope that phrase isn’t patented. We spend a lot of time together. My favourite restaurant is Lazy Dog, as they are known for their accommodation of dogs on their patio seating area.
Whenever I feel suicidal, which, as my psychotherapist recently pointed out is about every four to six weeks, I have to think about what would happen to Samuel if I died. My identity as his mother is deeply ingrained into my psyche and I have promised him that I will never leave him. There’s something to be said for that.
Samuel is about six years old and he has a very calm demeanour. All he ever wants to do is cuddle in my lap with a blanket, and that is something we do a lot. He also sleeps with me and lately, he has taken to burying himself under my very soft, teal bathrobe at night by my side. My doctor wanted to meet him before considering signing his name to my ESA letter.
I have a very nice life. I have a lot to be grateful for. I have my own home with a lovely roommate and a very stable job. I have had this job for over two and a half years, and it’s the longest I have ever held a job at the same company.
I love my life just the way it is, in spite of the fact that I come up with a new idea for my life every week. It’s actually fun exploring the possibilities, an option which wasn’t available to me before. Last week I was going to move to Germany. The week before that it was South America and the week before that it was Los Angeles.
I have considered going to school to become a psychotherapist. I tried it and then decided that it wasn’t the path that I wanted to take at this time in my life. “Maybe one day in the future,” I tell myself. The possibilities are endless and I am in charge of my life.
I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder in 2011 at the age of 27. Many life events and situations led to its onset. Back then I had very little self-awareness. I have since come a long way. I am able to be mindful of the way I feel throughout the day and thus monitor and regulate my internal emotional state. I have many tools in my kit for self-soothing, including the use of lavender oil: just a few drops on my sleeve to keep me company for the day.
The thing is, I no longer wonder about how my life would be different without depression because I have accepted it as a part of me. It doesn’t define me nor does it rule my life any longer. But there are unforeseeable triggers in the world which appear in my life unexpectedly, and this is where my professional mental health providers play a key role in helping me to understand what happened and how to make sense of it all. I wouldn’t want to spend my life without them because of the solid ground they provide for me to stand on.
A major monthly expense for me is psychotherapy. It is a priority in my life. Here’s the thing. Some people like to go out to eat at fancy restaurants or take weekend trips. My idea of a good time is one-on-one with a good friend in a quiet environment sharing a coffee or tea and talking. If you invite me to that, I am there!
I choose to spend money, as most people do, on things that bring me pleasure, such as the thrilling gel pens which brightly decorate the intricate designs in my adult colouring book. I also enjoy photography and have been taking photographs of my handwritten poetry for the last year.
I’m an incredibly caring, compassionate, and smart individual who has a lot to offer. I have loving friends who care and I am close to my Mum and my brother. This is our birthday weekend and we are all coming together to one city in order to be together. After having recovered from my last episode of suicidal ideation very quickly, I know that this is going to be a heartfelt weekend to remember. I cannot wait to hug my brother!