Posted in Mental Health Monday

Life With Anxiety

Anxiety is something that I typically don’t talk about much. I mention it here and there because it’s such a huge part of my life that is really difficult to get away from. As much as I try, I can’t keep my anxiety from touching every part of my life, and every relationship I have, and every activity that I do. And that’s an extremely difficult reality to live with.

I’ve mentioned before that my boyfriend is an incredibly outgoing person. He has never had to deal with anxiety, or depression, or any other incredibly common mental health issue personally. And it’s very difficult to understand how crippling and frustrating it can be if you’ve never had to experience it before. He’s incredibly understanding and does everything that he can to learn about it and figure out how to help me out of my downswings. If I’m having a spike in anxiety, he will ask me after I’m calm how he can help me avoid those situations, or how he can adapt to ease the difficulty of dealing with those situations that can’t be avoided.

I so appreciate everything he does for me. And sometimes I feel horribly guilty about it. I find myself asking, “but won’t it be better for him to find someone without these issues? Won’t his life be more fun, or less stressful, or less frustrating, more exciting, if he were with someone who didn’t have to deal with these feelings?” Sometimes I wonder if there isn’t someone out there who would fit his life better than I do. It’s hard to feel like I’m worth all the effort he’s putting in for me, when it feels like I’m not doing the same for him, just putting more requirements and restrictions into a situation that should be freeing and fun.

But when I have those thoughts, I try to pull myself back a little bit. He’s choosing to stay. He’s choosing to put the effort in. He’s choosing to make a relationship with me work, to accommodate the things that I can’t control, and to support me when I’m having trouble holding myself up. While he doesn’t have mental health issues to work around, I compensate him in other ways. Relationships aren’t always 50/50, even though I want to make them that way as much as possible. Some days, it’s 60/40 toward him. Sometimes it’s 30/70 toward me. And yet other days, we are fighting for who has the larger percentage because we want the other to feel more appreciated than any other person in the world.

These are the things I try to remember when I find myself in downswings. I try to remember that it’s not always easy. It’s not always fair. It’s not always balanced, or equal, or anything. Sometimes, the relationship will be all about me. And sometimes, it’ll be all about him. Those days when I feel unworthy of him, I try to remember that my anxiety is a nefarious little demon whispering half-truths and insecurities into my ear and that they are not reality.

PS: I know this post isn’t actually posted on a Monday. In the future, I will try to post my articles about my journey with my mental health specifically on Mondays and under the tag “Mental Health Monday” so you can easily find/avoid them as you choose.

Posted in Doggy Reviews, Willow Wednesday

Willow Wednesday: Stuffed Soccer Ball Review

Like I mentioned in last month’s post about Willow’s enrichment toys, she uses a wide variety of them. This is another one that I’ve recently been trying out that she seems to like, featuring a whole bunch of photobombs of the little lady herself.

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This is her stuffed soccer ball (for lack of a better/more creative name). It helps simulate a stuffed animal in the sense that she gets to rip it apart every time I give it to her.

This one took her a little bit longer to figure out, because it took a little bit longer for the strips of felt (yes, more felt. I’m sorry) to smell like her food and not the craft store. The first time I gave it to her, the rubber ball smelled funny, and the fabric strips smelled funny, and she looked at me like I’d just handed her the most useless thing in the world. Now, as illustrated by the pictures, she has gotten over that and quite likes it.

Here are some pros and cons for this ball:

Pros:

1. It saves lots of money. If you have a dog who likes to disembowel its toys (see: throw stuffing everywhere 30 seconds after giving it to them) you will understand my struggle with spending LOTS of money on stuffed toys that rarely make it past an hour. This toy is nice because she can rip it apart, leave the strips of fabric everywhere, get some treats or food out of it, and I can remake it and use it again.

2. It really gives her a brain workout. I can make this more or less difficult for her by either packing the strips in tighter or not. When I first gave it to her, she basically had to just roll it around to get the treats out. Now, she has to actually pull strips out. Once that starts being too easy for her, I’m going to pack them in a little bit tighter, and maybe leave the ends tucked in too.

3. It can be frozen! It’s summertime here in New York which means that it’s hot-ish, and as unbearable the heat and humidity can be for me, I don’t have a permanent fur jacket on all the time. This, because the ball is made of pretty sturdy plastic (think Kong material) can be frozen in either water or broth. I love it because it helps her get some liquids in her system, and she loves it because it’s a doggy popsicle.

Cons:

  1. I have to actually make it up. It doesn’t take a ton of time to do this, but it takes more time than just loading up a wobble ball or her mushroom feeder. This makes it an inconvenient choice in the mornings when I’m rushing off to work. I would probably use it a lot more often if I had a couple that I could set up at the beginning of the week.
  2. I would NOT use this if your dog has a history of eating parts of their stuffed toys. Willow has never shown any interest in eating fabric at all, ever. But when I worked as a doggy daycare attendant and a dog trainer, I knew several dogs who would eat socks or parts of towels they ripped up, therefore needing obstruction surgery. So if your dog has ever eaten part or all of their toys, I would not leave this with them unsupervised.

Overall, I’d give this toy a 7 out of 10. It’s a challenge, and it’s reusable, but it’s a little bit of a pain to make up every day. Have you tried this toy out for your furbabes? Leave me a comment and let me know what you thought!