It's Abby dog again, taken while frolicking in the snow, in February 2008. I stumbled on this photo when looking thru my "Archives". I like thinking that dog spelled backwards is god. Dogs exude unconditional love and acceptance. We all want it. We all don't give it. Being only human, and not canine or divine, it's hard. We have 4 dogs. I know that four dogs are easier to manage than any number of kids. But even the best of dogs get into mischief. I noticed that our most recent addition to the menagerie, a rescue Scottie, has been a little less tolerant of Abby's seizures. He snaps at her ears and legs, I think he is probably trying to herd her some place and not being vicious. Nonetheless, I learned my lesson. We came home one evening last week to discover that Abby had a seizure while we were gone, and Sam ( the Scottie) had bitten her ear and the inside of her back leg, repeatedly. Yes, she looked like someone had chewed on her ear. Well, they had. We ended up at the late night vet clinic ER. ( Nice folks at the Webster Groves Animal Hospital). Abby had her ear shaved to check the wounds, no stitches needed, there were several puncture wounds on her ear, head and leg, but not bad. (Those bleeding wounds in the middle of the night often look worse than they are, thank goodness.) We came home an hour later with some antibiotics and the decision to put Mr. Sam in his crate when we weren't at home.
My "bleeding wound" incident happened during the school day. I had experienced a series of losses, a marriage that ended, a home is a beautiful historic district that I had to sell, an old dog friend had to be put down, my new puppy and I were attacked by dogs that some guy let off of their leashes, my less than competent principal moved my class room to an undesirable location....and the list goes on. I was struggling to stay afloat. I was seeing a counselor, but resisting medication, resisting seeing a psychiatrist, thinking I could fix this myself, wanting it all to go away. I had taken anti-depressants some years earlier and it was horrid, and involved my flushing the last of the meds down the toilet and hoping for the best. But more on that later. It's been over 25 years, so some of the stories start to overlap.
I was convinced if I had a mental illness I would lose my job, lose my home, lose my friends and family, and end up living out of a box under the overpass. So the best way to have that not happen, don't go see the doctor who will diagnose that illness. DUH!
I finally decided to see the psychiatrist for medication. Our insurance was through GHP, at that time you saw the doctors thru a clinic set up. It would be a month before I could get in to a psychiatrist, and the counselor could not find a medical doctor who would sign off on the meds in the meantime.
The principal started chewing on my ear. Not literally.( For every horror story that you can tell about a bad teacher, there are teachers who will can tell you their horror stories. That too is another topic)
It was obvious to all involved, ( and I knew too, but was in denial) that I was seriously stressed. A post traumatic stress disorder caused by the loses in my life. Most immediate was the school situation. I was moved from an area of the building that held my friends and support system. The principal shuffled the deck to maintain control and power over the peons in the building. ( Yes, I am still bitter on some level). I was dropped into " no man's land". It was an area of the building that had a large carpeted area, that ideally would be used for group presentations....it could hold about 50-60 children sitting on the floor. It became the between class teacher supervision nightmare, the place you went to "play tag", met to beat up the goth kid, met to embrace your sweet heart. Yikes. My class room was one of three facing this area. The other two teachers I'm sure struggled as well. It was a huge play pen, wrestling ring, nightmare, between every class. I had broken up several serious fights between 14 - 15 year old kids, bigger and stronger than me. When trying to break up fights you also had to deal with the kids in the circle, who egged on the fighters, who would not leave the area, who would mouth off and resist your direction, knowing you couldn't deal with all of them. I took one kid by the arm, and threatened his grade in my class if he didn't back off from the fighting madness....certainly inappropriate. ( I thought it was better than trying to slug him in the teeth, which is what the other kids were doing to each other....oh...I wasn't a kid, not suppose to do that. And remember I was neither canine nor divine.) I did what any self respecting teacher would do in the same situation. I went to the teacher rest room, locked the door, and started kicking the trash can, until it bounced off the wall and hit me in the shin.
Of course there would be consequences for me later, in the form of a reprimand in my personnel file, that did a pretty good job of making a case for insanity on my part. I am proud to say, that I was able to summon enough energy to write a rebuttal and the superintendent removed the reprimand from my file, which REALLY pissed off the principal . ( oops I'm getting hot reliving these events....bad words. lol)
But meanwhile, back in the bathroom. I was looking down at the dent in my leg, and there was blood and a knock at the door. The school counselor. I let her in. ( This was a tiny room, and neither of us were/are tiny people.) Hugs and reassurances were given, and a suggestion that she call the doctor and we go to the ER to get an emergency psychiatric evaluation. My worst fears come true I must be crazy.....I'll be living in a box under the overpass. It was also music to my weary soul.
I'm sure the diagnosis of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure,or other illness involves the denial and the deals, and the thought that it must be something else, or it's a mistake, surely not me, and if I just act a certain way, it will all be OK, and I'll get a cookie for being good. And this will all go away.
Carol B, the school counselor, was one of the first, of many, faces of God, or angel, whatever you want to call them, who appeared to save my life.
So while my ear was chewed on ( sort of ) that day, it was divine intervention, I went to the ER with my loving friend and coworker, saw a nice counselor in the ER, was prescribed some medication, told that I didn't need hospitalization, would survive, should try to eliminate stress, etc. I went home. My folks were a bit freaked, but supportive and understanding.
The story continues....it doesn't all get fixed there. But it's the first step on the road to recovery, survival and success.
If you have feelings of depression, I know it's hard to decide to get help. I hope you have people in your life who are aware and will step in. If you have a friend who you see struggling, do not hesitate to offer help. In the long run, they will be grateful.
My friend Chel, in the Land of ZNE has inspired me to write about my experience with depression. She is trying to encourage conversation and understanding about the mental health issues that so many of us live with. So many of us have stories, some of those stories end in suicide, others stories tell of recovery, survival and success.
We need to tell those stories.