How my dogs saved my life

As I write this we are nearing the end of Mental Health Awareness week in the UK, my mental health as taken a bashing over the years and I am comfortable with status as ‘Dealing with Depression’ that I wanted to share with you my story.

My teenage years weren’t great I was bullied badly at school and as a result my self-esteem disappeared and I hated the way I looked. I barely had any ‘real’ friends and as a result I was really shy. It was during this time I developed an eating disorder which wouldn’t get diagnosed until my early 20’s.
With the support of my fab parents and family I went to College and studied Art and Design but I found it hard to form great friendships. I went university got a degree in Textile Design I met my best friend Hayley and 14 years later we are still great friends. But on the whole I was still painfully shy, I wasn’t happy with myself and endlessly compared myself to others.
After I graduated uni I moved to Scotland and started my career as a clothing designer, here I made some great friends who are still part of my life today and I did find my confidence, I was really happy. Although I was still dealing with depression it was manageable I even came off my medication for a couple of years.

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But somewhere along the line in 2012 aged 28 I realised I wasn’t happy, I realised that all my friends were moving forward with their lives while mine had barely changed in the past few years. I became a regular visitor to the doctors to check in and talk about how I was feeling, I also made the decision to go back on medication. I threw myself into work and tried my best to live my life but I was lying.
One day I woke up and I couldn’t face the thought of going to work, I am why what was the point to all, what was the point to me for that matter. A great friend of my Vicki helped me realise that I needed help. I admitted for the first time out loud to my doctor that I had been thinking about killing myself.
My depression had really taken over, I knew I didn’t feel right and that things had gone to far. I told my family and friends the truth about everything and they were nothing but supportive. A few did turn away from me but that was their issue not mine.
One of things that came out of my chat to my parents was how much I wanted a dog. So in August 2012 Mabel a 6 year old, Old English Sheepdog came to live with me. She was the best first dog anyone could have.

Now I had a reason to get up in the morning even if it only meant I was just taking Mabel out. I had someone to talk to in my flat, I found myself going out much more, taking myself and Mabel to see friends. My confidence in myself came back and with that I took a new job in Edinburgh leaving my life of the past 7 years behind.
I couldn’t have made that big move on my own and having Mabel meant I wasn’t alone. The absolute best thing about Edinburgh is how dog friendly it is, nearly everyone want to say ‘Hi’ to my Mabes and through that I self esteem grew. I still had to deal with my depression but I wasn’t alone I had Mabel who didn’t judge me for not wanting to go out and who quietly comforted me when I needed it.
Sadly after 10 months together my world was turned upside down as Mabel was diagnosed with cancer. It was too advanced and she was put to sleep in my arms.
I was alone again.
August 2013 and a very big Old English Sheepdog called Flash entered my life. In need of a new home he came to live with me in Edinburgh. Flash become my best friend, I joined Edinburgh Puppy and Dog meet-up group and met many wonderful people and their dogs. We join a dog training classes, everyone in my local area knew Flash.

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He helped me threw my low times, when I really sad and didn’t want to leave my bed. He was just always there to make me smile and laugh. He became my rock and my constant.
Without Mabel and Flash I highly doubt I would be here in this world writing this. My depression is under control now and my eating disorder is non exsitant.
It is because of Flash I took an interest in dog training and behaviour, he is the logo behind my buisness along with other dog Nora. It is because the wonderful unconditional love from Mabel and Flash that I continue to grow stronger and live my own life with my own rules.
Dogs are amazing and I have spent most of my life with them, there is nothing better then coming home to wagging tail, a loving bark and the kiss from your dog. These things make even the most horrible days fade away.
So without a shadow of a doubt I know my dogs saved my life when I need it the most. Today I am owned my Nora, Erick and Ally who all in their own ways make my life better.

If you are facing your own struggles then please know you are not alone. Not what your battle is please find someone you can talk too, it does get easier and your life is important. While my dogs saved me that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been able to ask for help and talk about what was really going on in my head.
Take careSuzanne

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