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So I have struggled with depression, among other things, for a long time now, and though I'm generally getting better, it's a long road. Despite therapy, medication, exercise, you name it, it still has a huge effect on my life. I completely crumble under stress and spend days where I can't make myself do anything. I'm so easily overwhelmed by life, I hate it.

 

Now although I didn't get Aed specifically to help with my issues, he has been a huge help for the most part. I have been able to do so many things on my own that I never could have before I had him. That said, I feel like I'm failing him as an owner. Days when I can't bear anything, I find it so hard to deal with him, to take him outside, to pay attention to him at all. I'm okay to cuddle with him but I feel exhausted at the idea of throwing a toy or playing a game with him.

If this was just every so often, or just one day at a time, it would be one thing, but at this point in my life it's almost all the time. A day where I take him for a long walk and play lots of games and give him a good time is rare. When I do go out I take him everywhere in the car with me, but it's not the same. I feel absolutely awful about it. I want so much to be able to give him the attention he needs, but I'm just not capable of it right now. The thing is, the depression comes and goes, and next month I might be totally fine, or I might not be. I'm not considering giving him up. I need him right now, and this thing isn't permanent. But I just don't feel that I'm enough for him at this time. Has anyone dealt with this before in some manner? Any anecdotes or suggestions?


Thanks.

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Oh Chene, I hope you realise that feelings of guilt, self doubt and inadequacy are all part of the nasty cycle of depression. If your dog is not acting out with destructive or other bad behaviours then I would suggest that he is coping just fine with the situation. Dogs and particularly BC's are so very in tune with our energy. Don't underestimate him, he has a job and it sounds like he is doing it well. Dogs don't have expectations of us, neither do they make judgements or hold grudges. He will be feeling your love and your need for him. When your energy is down his is probably calm also. Many service dogs are trained to do exactly what your dog is doing for you.

 

Try not to fall into the all or nothing trap either, it doesn't have to be a long walk or vigorous ball games. Every little interaction counts no matter how small. Your dog isn't placing expectations on you so try not to put them on yourself.

Don't feel anxious about asking for help from others. I do understand that there are probably times that you perhaps can't even face seeing other people but perhaps you can seek out the right person, a family member, a neighbours child (provided old enough to manage the dog) explain that you simply need them to come and walk the dog without before and after chit chat. You don't have to give details, just say you are very unwell and too exhausted to interact. A ball game doesn't have to be epic, you can lay on your bed or lounge and simply roll the ball across the floor with your arm hanging over the edge.

 

But really, as I said in the beginning, if your dog isn't acting out just relax and stop beating yourself up. He is being fed, watered and loved. I am sure he is simply happy with whatever you can offer him. He probably doesn't mind at all being snuggled and cuddled. I wouldn't mind betting he spends a lot of time curled up in bed with you or on the lounge, lucky dog !!!

Good on you for finding the energy and motivation to write this post, I do understand that with depression even the most simple task can feel epic. Well done !! Take care xoxoxo

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Chen,

 

You are not alone in this battle. I'm awake here in CO at 2AM in the middle of an anxiety attack. Mental illness is such a hush-hush topic, I applaud you for putting yours right out in the open.

 

I think Jule is spot on. If Aed isn't giving you any signs of not being fulfilled I don't think there's a reason to think that you're not doing your part as his owner. They don't need to be going on grand adventures every day! Ten bucks says Aed is just as happy being there for you in your time of need as he would be playing ball in the park.

 

I lived in a particularly dangerous part of town last year, which combined with my anxiety issues meant that I couldn't be outside of my house after sunset. Which, in the dead of winter, meant a LOT of no-fun nights inside. Keeper and I have dived right into trick training, and it has quickly become our favorite thing to do. It ranks higher than the dog park, fetch outside, walks, everything. Would that be something that interested you? You could set out ten or fifteen minutes every day for just you and Aed to work on some tricks. It can be quite rewarding for both of you. I know one of the worst aspects of depression is feeling so out of control of your life because you just can't seem to get out of bed. Sometimes just accomplishing the smallest of things during the day can make a big change. Our dogs just want time with their special person, I don't think they care what the activity is as long as they do it with their people.

 

I hope things get better for you sooner than later, though I'm quite sure that Aed is more than happy to help you when you're at your lowest.

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Not sure if this is at all a workable solution for you, discard if you don't need it, all the usual solutions. Completely understand if this is too much to suggest.

 

I get exhausted sometimes due to asthma and can't do much beyond feeding the dog, can't go outside to walk because the triggers are outside. If I potter over to get something I don't ever waste a journey- I bring a toy, drop it somewhere, come back, and then ask the dog to go find it. Then I can sit quietly and be exhausted while the dog goes to find it. Works well when you're doing chores too. You put the dog behind a closed door or ask it to stay as you hide the thing.

 

Remember that 'you not being enough for him' is also probably part of the disordered thought patterns that occur with depression. Depression comes with delusional or distorted thoughts about you and your value, that's part and parcel of it, so it's a good idea to remember that you may not be assessing this clearly at the moment.

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As you can see, there are several of us in the same leaky, sad, not-good-for anything boat. ;) It's not really a pun, just a bad analogy.

 

I've had depression and anxiety/panic attacks since I was an adolescent. You don't say if you're on meds, but if not and you haven't already tried them, find a doc and talk to her/him. You may have to try a few to get one that works for you, but it's so worth it.

 

And LIGHT! I read a suggestion to try turning on ALL your lights to help w/fatigue and depression at this time of year, and boyhowdy, it's working for me.

 

As far as you and Aed, Gibbs has been with me since 2011. The last couple years have been very difficult for me, my marriage ended in 2013, I injured my back in 2014 and was unable to work for 14 months, which meant I was living below the poverty level. Fun times, you betcha.

 

When I got really blue, and took to my bed for days, or when I had the flu and was in bed for a week, or - you get the idea. Gibbs curled up and watched me like a hawk, but he did fine with it. I was always able to get him out to potty and stretch his legs a bit, and that sufficed. Was it ideal? No. Did he turn me in to the Humane Society for border collie torture? No.

 

When I'd start to feel better and was able to do more, he was happy. Nothing more.

 

I'm cheering for you, Chene, because you asked for help. You got yourself a dog who is intensely bonded to you, and that's a good thing. And because you're not as awful as you think you are right now. It's temporary, and you know that, and that demon has a hold of you, but the grip will loosen. Aed is fine and will be fine, and he knows you will be fine, too.

 

The best you can do is good enough for right now. PM me if you want more suggestions.

 

Ruth and Gibbs

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Awww, I know that feeling all too well. And while yes, your dogs do appreciate fun days they mostly appreciate being close with their humans and in tune and hes probably not as worried or sad about those days than you are.

 

I love the idea of hiding stuff for him for activities.

 

I hope you have some good support in your life?

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Chene, as you can see from the replies so far, you are by no means alone in this. I have had depression problems most of my life, some of it very severe. Some of my life has been good, and some just a matter of getting through the days. I firmly believe that it has been completely worth it to carry on through the worst times, because in my life I have been blessed in many ways and despite my not having had an easy life, it has been a good one. I truly hope that you can say the same, but if not, hang in there because probably one day you will be able to say it.

 

As for your question: don't give up Aed. And I will strongly second the suggestion that you not get into an all-or-nothing frame of mind. There have been and are days when my dogs do not get as much of my time and attention, or as much exercise, as I would wish. It is not a perfect world. People with no depression or other issues like that can get too busy or have to deal with some kind of crisis and for a time not be able to give as much as they want to their dogs, also. Honestly, I do not think the dogs really mind. My dogs get love every day, I don't yell at them or take out my frustrations or sadness on them, and they know that they are cared for, and I am convinced that that is what means the most to them. I give them everything that I am able to give them, every day. It sounds as if you do the same, and what more can you ask of yourself?

 

Additionally, I think it is very important for you to have Aed. You say he helps you, and I know this is true. If not for my companion animals through the years, I might not even still be here. Sometimes they make life worth living. And all of the time they enhance my life and add joy, laughter, smiles, and love that I would not have otherwise.

 

Just give what you can, when you can, and don't guilt yourself when you can't do it all.

And know that you are not alone. You can PM me if you ever want support from someone who has been there.

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I have days when I just have trouble getting out of bed and my dogs don't seem to mind. They are usually content to just wander around the house and lounge with me. They don't seem neglected or crazy. On the worst of days when I can't even fathom much interacting with anyone or honestly anything I have Kongs stuffed with a mix of wet food and kibble on hand in the freezer. I take a couple out for my two dogs and it keeps them occupied and makes them think about how they are going to get the food out. I don't have to do anything other than walk to the freezer and set the Kongs on the floor. Then when I'm feeling better I make them a top priority.

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Thank you everyone for your support and advice, it means a lot. I do play hide-the-toy games with Aed, it's his favourite game, but he isn't that interested in finding it if I'm not watching and cheering when he gets it. Maybe if I start hiding really tasty things I'll have more luck. I'll freeze some kongs and stuff, that's a good idea.


He's not acting out, but the thing that brought this on was that yesterday I was sitting doing a puzzle, (which is something that I'm able to do and really helps) and Aed just started whining and barking a bit, like he does when he wants something. But when I asked him what he wanted he just stood there until he was sure he had my attention, then went and got a toy and stood there holding it, asking if I would play. I don't know, he's never done that sort of thing before. He's so desperate for my attention. It's not that he needs long romps or intense training sessions or whatever. He just needs my attention, and I find it hard to give him as much as he needs, and I don't know how to fix that.

I am on meds, I do keep all the lights on, trick training feels exhausting but maybe I can find a way to make it work. We do agility every Monday and that's nice.

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Chene, is it possible that you might have some sort of auto imune disease or something else that triggers chronic inflamation? There are plenty recent studies that link depression and inflamation. I'm mentioning this because that happened to me and oh boy, was I happy when I was diagnosed with a genetic auto immune disease. And I'm not kidding (well, not right away, but when I discovered that treating this disease also made a lot of stuff I wouldn't have thought was related go away).

Between 26 and 36 I was on meds for depression, and looking back I was depressed since my teen years, just not recognizing it. Then at 36 I was diagnosed with anquilosant spondilitis (basically my immune sistem doesn't recognize my articulations as being part of my body, so just destroys them), began treatment which includes an immune supressor and daily anti inflamatories, and for the past 13 years, no depression. It was like magic (also no more terrible migraines and a lot less aches and pains all over).

 

Of course depression has many roots but I'm more and more convinced it's worth it to explore the possibility of a physical cause. If there is one and it can be treated it does make a hell of a difference.

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Also, I've always found that, when I'm really tired and cranky, if I can muster the courage to do a little something with Tess, I always feel better afterwards. Of course it's much more difficult for you to muster the courage, but maybe you can set yourself small goals. Like "I'll play fetch with Aed for 3 minutes. Or do trick training for 4 minutes". Set the alarm on your phone and after that short time, If you find you're just too tired, at least you'll have done something and that alone will make you feel a bit better. But if you feel that the interaction with Aed in itself made you feel better, then you can try do keep it up for another 2 minutes. Aed will like it no matter how long or short it is. Thing is, if you think "I should go out with him for a good hour and do lots of stuff because he sure deserves it", this project will be dead from the start. But if you set a really small goal, it will be much easier to acomplish and Aed will be equaly delighted.

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Teresa - Given my history, it's almost certainly a mental issue, but I'll look into it. You're right about the small goals, though. I'm not sure if playing with Aed will make me feel better or not, right now I mostly just feel guilty that I didn't play with him longer, but I'll keep what you said in mind.

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Do you have a back yard? I have had anxiety attacks and OCD all my life. There have been times when it got so bad I couldn't get out of the house. But I have a backyard so the dogs can at least get outside and play. That has helped a bunch.

 

Yeah, that's what I do right now, I just let him out and watch him from the window.

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Four months ago I came within inches of giving up my dog Sugarfoot and my cat Mugen, because between my mobility issues and my panic disorder, I was sure my useful life was over. I was ready to go into an elder care facility - which is absurd, I'm only 63 - and sell off my Japanese antiques to pay for it.

 

I came here with a plea for a home for my dog, and while people were sympathetic, they also hinted that I needed to pull my socks up and look around me. I did, and quickly backed away from the precipice I had come so close to. I backed away so quickly I ran into Maid, a Border Collie who really was in the pipeline to oblivion. She was in the hands of a money-grubbing, poorly managed and clueless rescue organization. I could see the likelihood of her being adopted by someone who had no clue how to deal with her, and so would likely toss her in the backyard and forget about her. She had issues. I have issues. We actually had some of the same issues.

 

There were a lot of days when I feared I had bitten off more than I could chew. But someone had to step in for this dog, and she elected me. (How, is told elsewhere here on the Boards) Long story short, as I got to know her and get a sense of what she was about, her ideal path became clear to me. She was a stockdog without stock. I found some for her that were attached to someone who was willing to put the time, patience and care - not to mention love and training. Lucky Maid. Lucky me.

 

But in those 4 months I learned a lot about the idea that the best you can do is - surprisingly often - perfectly adequate. I still have panic disorder, I'm still hugely fat, and I still have other problems as well.

 

But I realized that I am also extremely lucky. Lucky in my pets, my friends, my home and my little "village." Against all odds, I ran into a sheepdog in the middle of the city, and she let me have a glimpse of a world I had read extensively about, and longed to experience - stockdogging. Who'd a thunk it?

 

As others have said, your dog seems well-adjusted. Take an inventory. Look at what you have, and what you and your dog have together. Don't beat yourself up. And for pete sake, don't "throw away" the creature who, I would guess, is most instrumental in making your life good when it's good. Grapple her to you with hoops of steel, and soldier on.

 

When you feel good after getting your dog out, give yourself credit. You did it! And when you can't, keep doing what you are doing already. Take credit for caring and doing. Life is lumpy. Not just for us "crazy people." Tea almost got her place barbecued this year. But look what happened - a bunch of people got together right here and helped - organized by another person from here who is battling cancer!

 

You have back-up. For starters, the dog. And look at this thread... Lots o' back up. And when you are in the throes of a nasty panic attack, remember - it will probably be over in twenty minutes. Panic attacks are like clouds. They pass over, and sometimes they rain hard on you. But they do go away. And then you have sunshine. And you can take the dog out! :)

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Shoot. If you have a backyard she will be fine. Stop worrying about it.

 

Anxiety attacks are different than panic attacks. They can last for days where panic attacks I think are a lot more intense when they happen they are short-lived. . I've had anxiety attacks where I couldn't leave the house for 3 or 4 days. But they do get better. Not like full blown agoraphobia that can last for years.

 

My Ocd is the thing that is really disabling if it flareS up. It can get so bad that people can't even function. Mine isn't that bad.

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I've noticed a dog doing that out of character toy thing with someone who wasn't their primary caregiver, they had enough walks and play and stimulation. Hard to know the motivation but it did seem like it was a response to the human's behaviour- sudden inactivity. The dog could just be worried about you.

 

 

I trade the toy for food. "Proud of you dog, have some kibble from my pocket." Frozen kongs are good to make when you're feeling less exhausted to save up for worse days.

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I have had depression for yonks. I was hospitalized for it back in the 80s. I was put on various meds - which did nothing for me but sort of numb me. Enough that I was really worried driving to work in the morning. But the "experts" said I should just "deal with that".

 

We didn't even have a dog then. But we did have two cats. Just snuggling with them helped a lot.

 

Do check your thyroid and B12 levels. Low levels of either (or , worse, both) can cause depression. And a TSH level of 5 is not OK not matter what the labs say. - anything over 3 means you need help. Better to get the T3 and T4 levels checked. My TSH can be almost negative, and my T4 can be OK, but my T3 tanks without liothyronine. I also let a 2500mcg B12 tablet dissolve under my tongue after breakfast and at night (high point of my day is when the morning one goes!)

The depression meds did no good. Levothyroxine, liothyronine, and B12 do wonders.

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Yes to the thyroid check!!!

 

I know were not doctors and I'm sure you have one of your own, but it's worth mentioning. I have Hashimoto's, as do many people in my family. The early signs usually go unnoticed so by the time you get on medication you REALLY see a difference.

 

Mental health and physical health go hand in hand. I think people sell themselves short when there can be an underlying reason for the mental health problem. I've had chronic anxiety since I was in elementary school (complicated by a severe phobia), and depression since my late teens. I then had some joint problems that I assumed were just out of blue. Then I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder. Guess what are common complications? Anxiety and depression. Sometimes there's more to the story than just depression, anxiety, or any other issue. Sometimes it takes a variety of doctors to piece together the whole puzzle.

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I'll join the club here: my depression is seasonal (SAD), and since I live in Texas it probably isn't nearly as bad as it could be. But last winter was particularly long and grey here and it really did me in. Didn't want to get out of bed. Doing anything sounded exhausting. I fed the kids and changed diapers and that was about it. The guilt was horrible. Eventually I realized something was wrong and it wasn't just me being lazy or something, and things picked up quickly from there (along with the change in seasons). This year I'm very aware of the little ups and downs. It hasn't gotten bad yet this year, but there have been bad days or weeks here and there -- and I've also got the three kids and we homeschool, so that takes a lot of what energy I do have on the bad days.

 

Some days, Livi gets a good morning romp in the backyard or the living room, a long walk later, a few nosework sessions scattered throughout the day, an hour or two at a park with the kids, and more interactive play in the backyard in the evenings. Some days, Livi mostly gets tethered near wherever I am and gets to play by herself in the backyard when she gets fidgety. A lot of days fall in the middle. I'm new at this and I may be wrong, but I think that's ok. I think it's helping her become a well-rounded, flexible dog who will be a pleasure to live with. I kind of take the same approach with my kids. Some days we have a lot of fun and do a lot of cool stuff. Other days they mostly have to amuse themselves for any number of reasons (doctor's appointments, sick sibling, housework needing to be done, whatever). A lot of days fall in the middle. I think it's helping them become well-rounded, flexible people who are easier to live with.

 

I'm not there to see, but I'd bet Aed would rather be with you even on your bad days than anywhere else. On my bad days, when the guilt hits, I look over my fence at the neighbor's dogs who live in the backyard 24/7. I've never seen anyone out there playing with them. I'm not saying it's right, but there are a lot of dogs who live that way and I think our dogs, who know they're loved and part of our lives, are much better off.

 

(Also, on the health-checking bandwagon: my two measurable issues are low iron and low vitamin D. I'm on supplements for both. Neither completely solves the problem, but when I started on iron supplements especially I noticed a HUGE improvement in my energy levels.)

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You're right about the small goals, though. I'm not sure if playing with Aed will make me feel better or not, right now I mostly just feel guilty that I didn't play with him longer, but I'll keep what you said in mind.

Just remember that dogs don't think of things the way we humans do. Every minute that Aed gets of your attention is a gift. He isn't looking around thinking, "Well the terrier down the street went to the dog park three times this week and I didn't go even once." Aed is thinking, "She played with me for five minutes, she LOVES me!!"

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Just remember that dogs don't think of things the way we humans do. Every minute that Aed gets of your attention is a gift. He isn't looking around thinking, "Well the terrier down the street went to the dog park three times this week and I didn't go even once." Aed is thinking, "She played with me for five minutes, she LOVES me!!"

^^^This is true

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Yes to the thyroid check!!!

 

I know were not doctors and I'm sure you have one of your own, but it's worth mentioning. I have Hashimoto's, as do many people in my family. The early signs usually go unnoticed so by the time you get on medication you REALLY see a difference.

 

Mental health and physical health go hand in hand. I think people sell themselves short when there can be an underlying reason for the mental health problem. I've had chronic anxiety since I was in elementary school (complicated by a severe phobia), and depression since my late teens. I then had some joint problems that I assumed were just out of blue. Then I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder. Guess what are common complications? Anxiety and depression. Sometimes there's more to the story than just depression, anxiety, or any other issue. Sometimes it takes a variety of doctors to piece together the whole puzzle.

I agree completely. I have Hashimoto's too, as do 3 of my aunt's on my dad's side and possibly his dad also. While I wasn't depressed before diagnosis and treatment, I was anxious and had a terrible temper problem. One of the things my Dr. has me take is a Vitamin B complex. That helped TREMENDOUSLY.

 

Anyhow, I hope you feel better soon.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This thread has been a real eye opener for me! I can't contribute much but I am really moved by the amount of support given. I have always felt like BC Boards is like a family. Now I know it. In a perfect world, it would be great if we could all get together and have a coffee.

 

When Juno was about 1 year old she was truly wild. She did everything at high speed and always seemed to be on the move. She was exhausting at times. One day during this time my wife was walking Juno on leash in the park and she slipped and broke her foot. My wife was in a great deal of pain and couldn't move. Juno who had seemingly never rested in her life, just lay down beside her, and wouldn't move until help arrived. I am sure Aed is in tune with you and will be happy just knowing you are with him.

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