Do Pictures ALWAYS Tell the Truth?
A picture is worth a thousand words but are the words always all true?
Let me start from the beginning, but before that let me say, this post is in no way to be insensitive to real issues that people experience. Rather it is meant to acknowledge that those issues are real whether or not we choose to share them.
When Joey and I started dating about 5 years ago, I met Roxy. Roxy was about 5 months old and she quickly became everything I could ever want in a dog. She was cuddly, well trained, she didn't eat cords or wires, she didn't eat food off the table, she didn't bite, she loved her crate and she never had accidents in the house. Well, now that I am testing my memory, I do remember bringing home a bed for her, she peed in it. Then I brought home another bed for her, she peed in that one too. That cycle continued for a while. Then there was that time she ate the wall. When you are so over the moon for someone or something it's easy to forget the bad and coo over the good.
Despite the trouble she would get herself into, that I conveniently blocked out of my mind, I love Roxy. I love her so much that almost 3 years ago, I decided to never eat another animal again. After all, the human race decided to domestic dogs, it's not a cow or pigs fault that we didn't domestic them. So there you have it, I became a huge animal lover all because of the love I feel for Roxy.
Fast forward a few years to November 2017, we fenced in our backyard to increase the quality of Roxy's life and we decided to get another pup. Life is better with friends, or at least we think so. We decided to get another pitbull because they are smart, loving and will be up to speed with Roxy; run, cuddle, play etc. We counted down the days until we could hold our new puppy, Dolly.
I literally had everything I could ever want in life, including a husband who didn't mind waking up every 2 hours to take Dolly outside to go to the bathroom. We took the most adorable pictures of them cuddling and playing together. My life was the social media definition of perfect. All the boring stuff that you didn't see in the pictures, the stuff formally known as real life, showed a very different story... I was depressed. The best way I could describe my depression is to compare it to what I've heard of postpartum. Now this is the part where the declaimer from earlier comes in. I am not down playing what postpartum is or what people who live with postpartum go through. I just want to acknowledge that the world we live in isn't always clearly represented on our social media accounts. The standard for our lives should never be based on the small window of someone else's life that they choose to show us on social media. I pride myself on being honest with people when it comes to how I feel. If there is anything in the world that we have a right to, it's our feelings. We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to others to be honest about how we feel. There are many who may be going through the same thing as us and think they have no one to turn to because no one is willing to talk about it.
So here I am with my perfect social media life, two perfect dogs and the ultimate perfect husband. A beautiful brand new home (well, still under construction), self employed with a successful career where I get to work from home 2 days a week. What was wrong with me? The truth is, nothing was wrong with me, I was depressed. I was overwhelmed. I was sad. I was confused. I felt trapped. All of those feelings, in no way, mean that something is "wrong" with me.
Depression and anxiety isn't something that was or is new to me. I know I've mentioned in the past, my bouts with depression and my ongoing anxiety that comes and goes with no warnings at all. Sometimes a wave of anxiety comes over me when we are doing something as routine as grocery shopping. My husband will notice a shift in my mood, I'll notice a shift in my mood and I'll have to replay in my head all the thoughts I was thinking to try to link why I feel this cloud of stress over me or why I have a pit in my stomach of "something is wrong". Sometimes there is no definite trigger at all and I am able to snap myself out of it by going over every single thought in my head and realizing nothing is wrong. Other times I can pin point exactly what it was and from there I'll have to mentally talk myself down from it. Anyway, this postpartum-like feeling wasn't the same. It was different than I am used to. I felt trapped. Confused with how and why I was feeling this way. Maybe it was the lack of sleep or maybe my lack of freedom I once had hours before Dolly. Or maybe it was the realization that Roxy wasn't the perfect puppy as I so conveniently remember her as. All puppies, including both of mine, get into things, have accidents on the floor, need constant supervision. Puppies are another life to take care of, from scratch. We had to let her cry it out at night in her crate, take her to the bathroom every 2 hours, teach her not to bite because she won't be a puppy forever. Could you even imagine raising a pitbull who didn't know it wasn't okay to bite? We would be setting this pup up for failure. This was real life and a real life to now be responsible for- not just photo opps for instagram and facebook.
This depression, anxiety, postpartum, or whatever name it's given didn't last longer than 48 hours for me but it felt like an eternity. Is this forever? Is this my life now? I am fortunate enough that I had the support of my husband that literally did everything for this puppy. I had Roxy who kept Dolly entertained and is slowly teaching her how to play without biting. I had my family that couldn't wait to hold and love the newest edition to our family. And fortunately for me I am very in touch with my feelings. I don't think it's "weird" or "not normal" to feel the way I felt or to vocalize exactly how I feel. No matter how significant or insignificant your suffering may seem to others, no one should have to suffer in silence.
So here it is the picture that sparked this entire blog. The picture that tells a completely different story from what was actually happening. What you can’t see in this picture was Roxy growling at Dolly because Dolly was biting Roxy’s collar. This picture flat out lies. It would be easy to post this picture and tell everyone how perfect my life is. How perfect our dogs are and how amazingly skilled we are as dog parents. This blog post would never exist and we would have won at life according to my social media. But I choose to acknowledge the real world, real feelings, real issues. If we all did, what a different world we’d live in. Expectations would no longer exceed reality and we could appreciate imperfections. No one is perfect. Life isn't a race and we could only all hope there is no finish line in sight. Life is a journey and a learning experience for us all. So here we are, all in this together, hopefully learning from ourselves and from each other. What I hope even one reader from this blog realizes is that sharing your not so glamorous experiences could help the next person. Someone has been through what you are going through and someday someone else will experience it. You don't have to suffer in silence.
I hope everyone has a safe, happy and healthy 2018. I hope you all take the lessons you've learned from past years and use them to put more good in the world. As always, you're beautiful. Remember that.
Until next time, work hard, dream big, eat cake