First, the therapist. He's a friend who happen to also be a trauma therapist. We had become friends and over time he had noted that I was emotionally crashing. I had also, but after a long history of bad, actually emotionally traumatizing, experiences with therapy, I wasn't willing to seek help from just anyone. At times I would talk to him and I could see he was truly listening and though he didn't offer a "solution" he did make me feel better by just hearing me out and validating my feelings.
In the end, I asked if there was anyway I could work with him or his wife, who happens to also be a working therapist. He said he'd need to discuss it with his wife and ensure we kept good boundaries that kept our friendship in place and a working therapeutic relationship also. It works, we worked out how he could be my therapist, payment could be done and our friendship remains in place with boundaries we both respect in place.
I have been seeing him for just over 6 months now and I am doing much better for it. Unlike in the past, when this point in the therapeutic relationship would begin to clam me up and I'd feel like a freak, I am opening up and feeling like there is hope I will recover a sense of happiness and hope some day.
Our goals are to help me better set boundaries, respect myself and feel less anxious about change and more comfortable in my own skin. It's strange, those goals were never set before by other therapists. I actually had one that never wanted to talk about what happened; can you imagine a 15 1/2 year old trauma victim being told to clam up and shut up about repeated sexual assault? That is what my Rape Crisis therapist told me, the very first ever court ordered therapist I had, told me and the only one I had until I was 25 years of age, when I had just revealed what had been happening to me for once.
So, now I am finally able to work through that trauma and truly deal with it, at 51 years of age. Here's hoping it makes a difference.
My anxiety is up. My depression, which I can't ever remember not having, more persistent, but I have a friend at my side who won't let it keep me down.
I truly don't know how to explain to those who don't know what it's like to have a friend like Malcolm, but he's amazing. Max and Malcolm are so very different; opposite ends of the pole.
Max is and has always been willing to lay or be with me in a quiet calm way. Lean against me and/or lay on my feet and lend me his quiet energy and let me know he loves me. He is and has laid near or against me for all the time we've been together without pestering me when I am down. If I want to sleep the day away, he'll let me without complaint. Now that he's older and Dieter and Attitude (RIP) no longer are in the bed, he'll lay on the foot of the bed with me quiet like and lend his somber energy.
Malcolm is the other end of the pole. He'll lay by me, yes. He'll lay his head by mine and even breath on me and let me lay my hand along his neck or against his bum. He'll let me hold his tail or paw and he'll give me a paw and hold "hands" with me. But he does more.
If I have been laying in bed "too much" he'll get up and walk around the bed and put his chin on my hip or ribs and press deeply into me and even double press to get my attention. If I am facing that side of the bed he'll sit, ears up, and wait for me to open my eyes. If I don't, he rests his chin on the bed and bounces it or works his nose under the blanket until he's breathing on me. When I do open my eyes he stares at me intently and waits for me to say something, if I do or don't, it doesn't matter, he'll clean my face. If I don't open my eyes, he'll stand on the edge of the bed with his front feet and gently lick my face to wake me.
When he "lowers" himself to lay his chin on my neck to tell me he loves me, he folds his front lets so he doesn't hit me with his paws. He'll stand back up on the edge of the bed and gently give me a paw and hold paws with me. He won't stop until I am laughing, hugging him and getting out of bed. It's hard to stay depressed and hiding from the world when you have a Malcolm.
He checks in with me during the day, climbing in my lap and cleans my face. He puts his chin on my arm and makes eye contact to take me out of my head.
When I walk through the house he walks beside me if my leg is weak. He is ready to jump up and help when I need it and he loves to help me with the harness, but the tiny things he does that keep me in the now are huge right now as I struggle with that very thing.
His physical tasks are fantastic - but the tasks he does for my mental health is vital. He's learning stronger Find It cues, but he already does great with Finding the door outside and the van in the parking lot. He's now working on my glasses, phone and anything else I tend to misplace.
So, when I accidently gave him a supplement that triggered a major allergic reaction, I felt horrible. Here my partner was struggling with horrible itching, chewing on his legs like they were corn cobs (it's called corn cobbing) and digging at his legs, hips, ribs and ears with his back feet even to the point that he'd stop walking just to scratch. He got to the point he was hurting his ears and making himself scream and would stop and turn to look at the most sensitive spot on his spine from one angle and then another.
I knew he needed a break on his immune system, but I didn't have the money in my bank account to take him to the vet. Thankfully, my therapist has an allergy dog and knew the pain of watching a beloved partner struggling. He provided 3 days of apoquel for Malcolm while I brewed up Bone Broth, started Turmeric and Mushrooms in his diet in addition to his normal skin treatment of Flaxseed Oil, alfalfa and Probiotics.
So, here is the outline of what is helping him. Bone Broth helps with Leaky Gut and will support good joints. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory and will pull the inflammation out of his skin and system from the allergic reaction. Mushrooms (the same as used in stir fry) have anti-itch properties and anti-inflammatory properties also. Flaxseed Oil helps hydrate his skin. Alfalfa helps with skin health. Probiotics are needed for good digestion and overall skin health. The combination helps Malcolm maintain a healthy immune system and reduces his allergic reaction overall. Most of the items I am giving him is an immune booster as well and designed to support his overall health.
The three days off from tearing at his skin was needed to reset his immune system while the new mushroom and turmeric additions took effect. I am now reading Benedryl to his diet for a few days and already see a much more comfortable dog now that he's off the apoquel and back on his own immune system.
I can't thank my therapist enough. The break and reset was perfect and I have a dog who is much happier and able to work again. He couldn't even sleep well he was so itchy.
It was like one half of me was hurting. I now know he's seriously allergic to shelf fish. Poor boy.
The house smells wonderful as I brew up another batch of bone broth for my boy. Time to fix his gut and make him the best dog possible. After all, he'll be at my side for a good long time if I take great care of him; and why wouldn't I? He's an appendage, a leg or arm; a body part to me.