How Adopting My Dog Helped My Anxiety and Depression

Hey, Heifers! Welcome to Angus Eye Tea: the podcast all about anxiety, depression, and dogs. I’m like, guys, I kind of feel crappy. I’ve been very anxious lately because I’m in a medication change and the kind of shit I have to go through for that is. Nah, it wasn’t too bad. And then just for the past week and a half, I have been rip roar and anxious. It’s, uh, like the wild West. But what panic? In fact, like the only way I know how to describe how I feel, it’s because it’s like I’m still happy. It’s Christmas time. I love Christmas. It’s very cozy. There’s fuzzy socks, blankets, which I guess actually. Okay. We’ll scrap that thought because I turn up my AC in the summer so high that I can use those things during the summer because I like to live in an eternal winter. What’s up Narnia, which it’s me. I’m not really sure how to explain how I’m feeling. Uh Oh, you know, here, I’ll try this. Let me see if this works. Getting up is hard. Depression doing chores really sucks. Anxiety maxed out my credit card. Oopsie would have a minimum of fuck. You know, I’m anxious. Anxiety, you know, I’m anxious. It makes you sweaty. Hmm. Okay. Okay. I won’t do that again. You can be sure of that. Today. I was trying to think of a topic that would kind of be easy for me to go through while I’ve just been, I don’t know, a giant sloths in my life. Everything is behind I am. I feel like I’m, uh, you know, I describe my anxiety a lot. Like, uh, swimming in the ocean and my medication usually helps me keep afloat, keep my head above water so I can work on myself. Well, instead of like floating at a canoe, like I’ve been a, I feel like I’ve been thrown overboard. I have two floaties, but there are some stones tied to my feet, so it’s like a little uncomfortable. Anyway, I was just trying to think of a topic that would be pretty easy to work on while feeling like that, you know? I was like, what do I talk about all the time? What is something I could just like gush about? And then it took me like two seconds before I realized like, Oh my dog Fern, I literally cannot stop talking about my dog. I’ve been wanting to do an episode like this for a while, but I think I felt like I had to do all these bells and whistles to talk about my little dog phone, but I don’t have to do that. I do whatever I want. Man. Did that sound competent enough? Cause I feel like my confidence is kind of at the bottom of the ocean with the sharks and the stones on my feet, except I’m still above water. So I guess I haven’t really tall or in shallow water and not realizing I could mixed metaphors. Y’all do not work. In the long run, throwing it out there. So what could I possibly say about my dog? Why is she so important to me? Why do I think pets are so helpful? If you’re anxious or depressed, everything, they’re great. The end. That’s the episode. Thanks for listening everybody. So I’ve got Fern. When I had moved into my first apartment by myself, and I was just kind of cruising for a little bit, uh, I was going through a real rough time. Y’all. Uh, I was not in a happy place. And, uh, I started listing to my favorite murder and realizing, Oh, I’m afraid of dying, uh, by the hand of an ax murderer. So I was like, you know what? I haven’t had a dog in ages. I think, wouldn’t it be fun if I had my own dog? Like this was a dream I had had since I was a little girl. And I loved dogs as a little girl. I loved all the dog movies. Balto ho don’t even get me started on Balto. I had so many stuffed animal dogs. I had Sparky the beagle chimney sweep, the black lab, dusty, the other black lab. Oh, why do I remember all of that? Anyway. That’s all to say. I was dog obsessed, but after my childhood dog passed away, and also, I mean, I was in college, love that dog so much, but I never really owned the dog because I was five when we got hers. So not like I was really doing much. It just had never occurred to me like, Oh, I could get my own dog. And even in my head when I imagined it, I just made the, I made up this rule that, Oh, you know what? I’ll get a dog when I’m 26 because I’ve decided 26 is when I’m going to have my life together and I’m 25 right now, and let me just tell you, girl that I have, we’re going to happen. Some 22 I am very actively thinking I should not get a dog that’s you’re responsible. When I tried to think of why it was irresponsible, I really didn’t get far. That’s just what I had been told by a lot of adult figures in my life. Like I don’t know if you’re ready for that responsibility. And I was like, I dunno. I mean like I really like dogs and I’m not like. I’m not going to let it die on me like I’m, I dunno, but I had forgotten that I was this little dog obsessed girl. Like I had an unleashed my freaky dog side. I don’t know what that means. I didn’t like the way I phrased that, but you get what I’m saying? So I am ignoring this desire to get a dog, and I happen to be very depressed and my sweet friends in town, we’re like, um, I don’t know what to do. Let’s go to PetSmart because we have nothing else to do, because that was how exciting my life was at that point. PetSmart was a weekend adventure. So we go to PetSmart and they keep having adoption Saturdays and looking at all the dogs. And I’m like, dogs are really great. Like, I forgot this love. I have foil lip, TN, that’s a, it’s French for dog. I’m fancy and bilingual. Well, not really. I just, I can say that. And then I can say a bull Oh, elegant. And that’s about it. So I keep going to this adoption event, even though I keep saying I’m not going to get a dog. And even wonder at some point during all of this, maybe people are right. Maybe I can’t handle a dog. I mean, at this point, I am so depressed. I am spending my days sitting in a chair, staring at my tarot cards, hoping that the hotel museum thing, which I mean, they’re from Barnes and noble. So how mystical is that? Not very. Okay. I’m just assuming a high level Terra deck comes from a spooky shop. It’s covered in dirt, and an old woman in a shawl hands it to me and says something and there’s like a weird bone on top of it, and I’ve just got to get that and I really wanted in my life, so please have that to my Christmas wishlist, everybody. Anyway, I’m, I, I’ve now, you know, succumb to self doubt, but I’m at the adoption event for, I think the third time now. And the dogs are all lined up in the back by size. So when my friends and I would walk into PetSmart, just to give you this idea, they, it’s so funny. They actually got their cats the exact same time I got Fern. They would go off to the cats to go stare at them and I would go stare at the dogs. I would eat at this point, asked to see some of them just so I can. Pet them and say hi to them cause they’re in these cages and I want them to like, you know, walk around and be happy and like getting to have a nice little dog pet sash. I was like, Oh, this is, this is nice. I miss this. I’ve been doing this for a couple of weeks now and it’s finally the week that I will meet for in though. I don’t know. It. So I’m going down the line and I take out this dog named Trisha, which like, I don’t know what the kind of fuck named Trisha is for a dog. I don’t know if she’s going to go talk to a manager or something, but she was actually super cute. She had that Brindle look to it. Pointy ears and yellow eyes. She kind of looked freaky, which is why I was immediately drawn to her and when I took her out, she was super chunky and super sweet, but I felt like she wouldn’t be a great apartment dog because that was another thing I wanted to make sure I got a dog that wouldn’t be too depressed if they kind of sat in an apartment for a while, like I don’t think an Australian shepherd would fit with my lifestyle. Those kinds of dogs need to like run a lot. Like . Libby outside and stuff. They want to have their minds engaged all the time like that. So I was trying to find like a sweet slumbering dog. That would be okay. Just kind of like sit in a little bit and not as hyper so love Trisha, but she wasn’t it. We go back in and again, at this point I’m not thinking, Oh, I’m going to adopt this dog. I would just in my mind go, Oh yeah, see, this is why I shouldn’t get a dog like Tricia. That’d be bad. So I move on and I see this one dog in her arms. She is just sitting like a Sphinx. Her arms are elongated, stretched out, and she’s just staring into the abyss with that look in her face. That’s like, I am trying to make myself invisible. I am not here. I am going to have an out of body experience for the sake of my own sanity. And she was so quiet. All the other dogs, they’re jumping around, they’re happy to see people. They’re barking. She’s just silent shrugging into herself. Um, so I was also instantly drawn to her. I looked at her information and I saw her name was Fern, and I was like, okay, how are you an old lady? Like, what’s going on? And she kind of looked weird, like her proportions were kind of weird. I didn’t get it. I was like, I don’t know what kind of dog you are at all a volunteer came up. I wasn’t going to pull out another dog. And a volunteer came up and was like, Hey, are you interested in Fern? And they were like, she’s really sweet. And I was like, okay, yeah, I’m a pushover at this point. So. We take for an hour and she has to kind of get gently pulled out and then she just kind of stands there. Dejectedly like she looks like the kid who didn’t get the part in the play, but they’re not going to throw a tantrum. They’re just going to internalize all their feelings and be depressed for the rest of the week. Did that hit close to home for anybody? Because not me anyway. We’re walking through the store and Fern is terrified of the sliding doors at the front of the PetSmart, but we get her through and we’re near the parking lot. We don’t get very far. She just kind of stands there and she’s leaning against the volunteer. Again, not looking at anybody has this big, like frightful frown on her face. Her eyebrows are shooting up and she just starts shaking and he was like, um. I think she’s afraid of the cars, but she was so sweet and she would let me Pat her. It was like, cause I, you know, at that point when a dog scared, you don’t know if they’re going to be snappy and it’s totally fair. Like they’re an animal. They’re going to be afraid. They’re going to want to defend themselves. But she was being super sweet. And so we actually took her around to the side of the PetSmart, which were, had more grass and stuff. Yeah. She didn’t move at all. She just kind of sat and looked around weirdly. But she’d let me Pat her. And she gave my hand the tip to this little like lick of like I acknowledge you. Get out of my face lady. No, based off of that, you would not think that I would have some kind of strong pull to this dog. Right? This dog is afraid of parked cars. This, this dog has internalized drama. Nothing’s really standing out, but I’m like, okay, whatever. Ferns foster mother happens to be there. And I’m talking to her a little bit, and I was like, you know, I’m kind of looking into a dog, you know, at this point, like, I think I’m, I’m not going to, like, I think I’m kind of lying just to figure out more about dogs, you know? I’m curious, maybe one day when I adopt a dog, you know, but I’m just asking. I’m not actually going to get to that, but seriously, I’m so about this dog. Uh, do you think she’d be okay? Like in an apartment? And she’s like, Oh my gosh, Fern is so sweet. Honestly. Like she just likes coddling. She’s very anxious. If he couldn’t tell. I think she had a really rough upbringing. She’s about two years old. When I first got her, she just sat between my couch and a table and I had to bring food to her and she just started walking out. But she has started to trust me and she’s so sweet and I was like, Oh, Oh, okay. Okay. Um, that’s cute. Okay. Um. Okay. How does that to clean? Hypothetically, like let’s say I was going to get her like, like other people are lined up right now and I’m thinking maybe if other people want to adopt Fern, I can now not adopt her because like another family would deserve her and I clearly don’t deserve anything good of my life. So she’s like, no. Honestly like, because she’s too, a lot of people don’t want older dogs. I’m like, old, older dog. She’s too, what do you mean? She’s like, she’s not a puppy. Everyone wants the puppies. And I was like, why would anyone want to like get an infant? That’s kind of shit everywhere. I mean, I love puppies. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just kind of like me and babies. Like, I’ll enjoy your baby, but I’m glad to then go home to my baby list home. That’s my hot take on puppies and cause it hates puppies. Okay. So at this point I confirmed that, for instance, chill dog, she’d be cool in an apartment and no one really wants to adopt her. That’s depressing. Uh, I watch her get pulled back into her crate and she looks so depressed next to Pepe Tricia, the crazy cheerleader dog, and I’m just staring at her. I’m like, Oh fuck. So I ask what knee? Okay, so if I did adopt her, what would I have to do? It was, it would have been like if a Jehovah witness knocked on my door and I said, yes, please tell me more. No offense to Jehovah witnesses out there, but they just got so excited and they swept me onto table. They’re like, here. Just fill out this application. I will say this, I love the rescue I got for and from, they’re called Homeward bound. They’re located in Columbia, South Carolina. They are totally foster volunteer based, and I think that really helped the dogs adjust to living in a home. And I really think it helped Fern a lot. Even when I got her and she was still super anxious. I love what they do. I felt the application and what they’re going to do is I had to put three references down. It was like a job, and they were going to call each of them, and then they said they might have to do a house visit. And I’m like, okay, well I guess I guess you need to not see that ain’t a block of cheese for dinner last night, because literally that’s where it was in my life. At 22 I would get a block of cheese. I would just end up eating it and then I’d be like, well, fuck my life. Let’s go to bed. So I felt the application and I’m like, still thinking, but I kinda really want this dog. I don’t know. It was weird. It was like I just kind of connected with her. I was like, you seem anxious. I’m anxious. Let’s do this to get a girl. I felt the application. They actually called all of my reference, and so a week later they were like, okay. You can come adopt Fern. Do you want to pick her up the Saturday? And I was like, yeah. Oh my God. Yeah, I’m going to get dog. And at that point it finally hit and I got so excited. It was like my inner dog child had just reborn and I went. Nuts. I got her so many dog beds. I got so many treats. I got a bunch of beautiful little dog toys. I was like, I don’t know if she’s going to like rope toys or chit chat or lax floppy thing. So let’s get them all. And at the exact same time, my friends have adopted two cats and we’re going to go pick up the kids. Cats and the dog on the same day and different places like it was insane. It was hilarious. I am going to pick up Fern by myself though, because my friends are moving into a different apartment, which is fine. I was just, you know, me being me, I was like give it any other adults like to come with me cause I don’t think I’m capable of. I put some towels back on the back of my seat in my car and I’ve left a little bully stick for Fern because I feel like all dogs love bully sticks. I was like, it’s a safe bet. I just want her to like me. So I go into the pet smart and I have to pay $300 for Fern, but they only accept cash. And I forgot my checkbook because I was so terrified. It was like I was bringing a newborn. Honestly, I kind of went over, but I forgot my checkbook and I was like, I look like an idiot. Hold, please. So I walk across the parking lot to one of those standing HTMS where you’re supposed to kind of drive through in your car. So I’m just standing there. I awkwardly take out $300 in cash, walk back across the parking lot and at the table, and I just awkwardly put down this wad of cash. I felt like I was doing a drug deal, like it felt very sketchy. I thought they were judging me. They were like, I don’t know if we should actually let you take this dog home. But sure. For his foster moms there, and as I’m finalizing the paperwork, I, uh, I’m seeing little Fern, she’s on a pink leash. She thinks she’s all happy with the foster mom. And this old lady comes up and she’s like, Oh, this is such a beautiful dog. And she goes to pet her. And I was like. It was really funny. I know. I mean, it was sweet, but I loved it. The foster mom told, I was like, Oh yeah. I will say though, she is getting adopted to day, like she was like kind of smug about it, but in a cute way. It was funny. Maybe just for me, you had to be there, I guess. I don’t know. Anyway, guys, med changes. So fun. Anyway, so I’m filling out all my paperwork. I’m finally getting Fern, and it’s kind of hitting me. They like to take a photo of you with the dog and they call it happy tails. And then every Saturday they like post all the pictures of the dogs that got adopted. So I get my picture with Fern and then ferns, foster moms said goodbye to her and I, I don’t know why, but this just like has always stuck in my memory. Um. Why am I about to cry about, Oh, what God, I need to get a life outside my dog. No, I just remember that the foster mom picked up Fernie’s little paws kissed each one and said, thank you. Sweet girl. Thank you. Sweet Fern. Oh, and there’s for in the flapper hers. Sale. Anyway, she had a really sweet goodbye and it was really cute. Anyway, from freak the fuck out though, when she left because she was the only person for and trusted, so Verna me sinks to the ground and it’s like all fuck, not again, and being abandoned again. What the fuck is the shit. There’s a volunteer who has kind of been working with me throughout the process. She’s like, you could tell that she’s kind of the aggressive one over the, the foster thing, which is great. It was just, she was scary. She was a lot what I had to do before I got for, and I had to get her name tag and all that stuff in order. So I’ve got it all in from, and then I’m trying to move from, but I’m afraid to like slightly tugger because I don’t want them to think I’m instantly this horrible dog owner. Because you know, why not be socially anxious in that moment? What this woman ended up deciding to do, she picked up Fern by the arm pits and kind of dragged her through smart and then all the way through the parking lot to my car, which was 100% in the back of the parking lot. We get first into my car and then I’m sitting alone in the car with Fern and I look in the back and she is not sad on the back seat with the beautiful towel I’ve set up. She is on the ground, curled up into the tiniest ball and she just kind of looks at me and she’s like, are you, are you about to send me to the meat house? Am I about to come a burger? King’s new impossible burger? Cause there’s no way, there isn’t something awful. And. There was, I’m just saying. Anyway, she looks sad, but when I looked back and saw she was in my car and it was just me, I was like, I just had that moment of like, Oh fuck, I have a dog who let me do this. I’m not qualified. I just had all the self doubt hip. That’s kind of the day I got Fern. And I guess with all of that being said, I just kind of wanted to talk about why. I really think having a Fern personally has helped with my anxiety and depression and kind of the story of getting her for me was a really big step because it was sort of accepting that even when a lot of adults were like, it’s a lot of responsibility. Let me say this, it is a lot of responsibility. Have a dog and the sense that if you cannot manage a dog, or if you would rather not have a dog, uh, if you’re going to move and they don’t accept a dog, you’re like, eh, yeah, okay. I wouldn’t want to deal with that. You probably shouldn’t get a dog. But for me personally, when people, we’re saying that it was kind of more in the sense of just overall, they hadn’t believed in me, which was kind of annoying. I’m not going to lie. So I believed it for a while, but I don’t know. I just, that little dog girl inside of me knew that I would do anything to make sure that that dog was going to be okay. So I took a huge leap of faith, and I guess these are just kind of the things had, along with the process of taking the leap to get a dog, which not to be dramatic, which I’m never on this podcast dramatic, but it changed my life.

I’ll just go through a couple of things I wrote down about like my Imad dad, he’s Spanish man and a half. Okay. So the number one biggest thing that Fern has ever helped me with is my depression. Having a dog that you love and are obsessed with, and I mean, I’m, I don’t know if you’ve listened to this podcast before. I talk about her all the time, but I, above everything, we’ll always make sure I take care of her. So taking care of myself, not always happening, but I could not stand the thought of not taking care of her. When I get really depressed sometimes it is hard for me to take her on these longer walks or remember to bathe her like when I should, and she kind of smells like stuff like that, but I, I don’t stop taking care of her. I still feed her. I still love on her. It’s become my new definitive that keeps me going in a way where I think if I didn’t have a dog, I would just kind of crumble in all myself and just sit on my bed and not do anything. And having that. Vessel for love and having that thing love you back has been very healing in times when I am depressed and I think no one loves me, I suck. It’s like, no, my dog loves me. In fact, she’s sitting on me and licking my face until I take her out sign. I love her. But seriously like having a dog when you’re depressed has been so good. She has to go to the bathroom and I’m not going to let her shit in my house. So she gets me outside. I’m walking, and when I’m walking I tend to feel better. And I’m not saying she’s cured my depression by any means, but it’s just been so much easier to navigate that part of my life. While I’ve had a dog by my side. Speaking of that, I have to take care of myself to take care of my dog. If I let myself go in a way where I don’t even know, like if I just, if I wasn’t around, I would not be able to take care of her and I don’t ever want her to go back to a pound or a shelter or have to change families. Like. I have built up trust with her over time and because of that, I don’t want anything to happen to her. So it’s kind of this like this baseline of I could never let her do that. So I will always try to take care of myself so that I will be there for her. Probably one of the greatest things too is because Fern was so anxious when I got her and I was so depressed when I got her. I got to kind of stop thinking about my problems all the time in that way where you just become an echo chamber with yourself, like you’re like, Oh, I’m depressed and I’m angry that I’m depressed and I’m going to be depressed, that I’m angry that I’m depressed because I live by myself and I would just eat those block of cheeses and think about that. But because my dog was so anxious, she became my hobby after work I got, I had something I looked forward to when I came home and I had to walk Fern for 30 minutes. For the first six months I owned her or up to an hour because she would poop. She was afraid to poop. That is so stressful, let me tell you. But it was exciting to watch her grow and get out of her shell. Like it became my full time job in a way to work with by very anxious rescue dog. And it’s, there’s this, uh, there’s this meme actually my friend had just shared with me and I’m totally going to botch it, but basically it’s that idea of you get mom friend power. When you’re an anxious person, but let’s say your friends also anxious and they want ketchup, but they’re too afraid to do it. Suddenly you get the power to go get the catch up. But like normally you would be the friend who can’t get the catchup, if that makes sense. So I went into mom friend mode with Fern where if she was too anxious to go outside. And I went through a phase where I didn’t want to walk outside because then people would see how quote unquote big I was. I know we can get into that later. No, I went outside because I was like, no, Fern, it’s going to be okay. Like, come with me. We’ll take our time. It’s going to be okay. And I wasn’t focused on thinking what people were thinking of me when I was walking out then anymore. I was thinking like, how can I help my dog be less anxious? How can I show her the world. So having an anxious dog that also related to me and a lot of anxious ways. It was really great to see and learn how to take care of her and in a weird way how I could take that and apply it to myself. Fern is also a great conversation starter. Uh, so she helps me when I’m anxious because sometimes I go to events and I’m like, I don’t know what to do with my hands. Who am I? Ah, but if I have my dog, I can talk about my dog all day, every day. Most people tend to like dogs. If they’re approaching me and talking about it and they want to pet my dog. And then we go into the easy conversation. How old is she? What breed is she? Oh, she’s so cute. Does she like this? It’s just been really nice as a buffer for when I’m anxious and out. It’s like this nice easy way to get into conversation. And then usually I start to feel better and then I’m able to go out. So I actually. Socialize more because of my dog and also for intends to get invited to more events directly than I do. I don’t want to talk about, it’s fine. It’s fine. Probably the biggest thing of all that Vern has taught me, I’m sure I’m missing so much, but my dog taught me love and vulnerability, and this is so Moshi who I know. I really don’t like to get cheesy, but I’ll try to sum this up. I was not someone who was very affectionate. I’m a very emotionally cut off. You don’t let me your face that I was very emotionally cut off and for me, showing interest in things was really hard. It felt vulnerable. And I am re, I am rereading Brenae Brown in case you’re curious. Um, I love dairy and greatly, it’s probably one of my favorite books. I’m making myself reread it right now because I think I need it. Medicine change. One thing that she talks about Brenae Brown and her book is with vulnerability. We have this thing called foreboding joy, and it’s where we’re afraid to let ourselves be truly happy because we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. And I think for me, especially at that point in my life, my best friend had just died. I hated my job and I hated my life circumstances. So the shoe kept dropping and I didn’t really want to form deep relationships with people. I wanted to keep everything surface level. I was just trying to like get through, so I was not feeling like an emotionally open person. But getting a dog that is very loving and at that point was very needy, but I needed her to be needy. Again, cause I got to pour, I dunno, I got to put all my bullshit aside and I guy could just focus on her. But with Fern, I learned how to love my dog, which kind of related to loving other people. Because I had a lot of the foreboding joy, and even still to this day, I’m so worried. It’s like, what if she gets hit by a car? What if she gets bit by a snake? What if she runs away and I never see her again? Like I just go through all these scenarios and playing with the what ifs is not being present and I want to enjoy the time I have with my dog Fern and kind of going through that too. Because again, I think getting Fern was really timely with the death of my friend. I wasn’t really dealing with the idea that people really do die. Things happen, people leave. And so getting Fern kind of helped me build up that trust again, and the idea that the foreboding joy isn’t actually a healthy or a helpful emotion. Even though I still kind of struggle with it a lot. She has helped me so much with growing the muscle to be present or just to enjoy what I have and to not go through the doom stay outcomes because that doesn’t. That doesn’t do anything for me because they might not happen, or if they do, I can deal with it then. But morning, something that hasn’t happened is not being in the moment and enjoying the happiness that you are experiencing. Honestly, without my dog, I don’t think I’d be as open as I am now. I’ve been able to make a lot more friendships. I’ve been able to connect with a lot more people. Even on this podcast, I’m able to be a lot more vulnerable and feel comfortable with who I am to share some of my stories because I got to start by raising my dog. In short, I think pats are pretty amazing. I think they’re great to have. That was just my dog experience. I have never had a cat hamster, what have you. I will still take the intense stand that bird people are weird. Okay. But if you’re a bird person and you have something to say about it, you can email me at at gmail.com and we can Duke it out. But if you think that you are too anxious to own a dog because you, you’d be too afraid of what would happen to them. I’m not a doctor, I’m not your therapist, but I think you need to give yourself a little more credit. Then you think there’s also the great opportunity just to foster a dog so you can kind of get used to seeing, Hey, what would my life be like with a dog? And then you’re helping them out and then they can find a great home and that if you feel like, okay, I can get used to this. Then you can get yourself a dog or same with cats and stuff. I absolutely have loved having Fern. I mean I got, I got a fricking tattoo of her, of her face. Cause that stuff kind of scares me. But I have a Fern leaf on my left wrist. The vein that connects to the heart and I, you know, for all my future pets, I don’t know if I’m just going to have like a pet armor or something. But for now, I guess for me, like. Fern wasn’t just, you know, Oh, it’s my dog tattoo, let me get it. But getting her was such a turning point in my life. It’s when I finally said, I’m done not really caring about myself and I will work to change that. And it has been a two and a half year process. And like you heard at the beginning of the episode, I’m working on it again and it keeps changing, but I. And so glad that I made that decision. So that’s why I have the firm tattoo. It’s just this nice reminder. Even 10 years from now, I can look back and be like, that dog changed my life. And now I’m going to cry like a little bit. No, I’m vulnerable. We can cry about dogs. It’s, thank you so much for listening to this episode of Angus T.

if you have any like really sweet dog stories or pet stories. Again, I just talked about dogs. I know there’s some cat lovers and what have you out there? How have your pets helped you with your anxiety or depression or your stressful times? I’d love to hear your stories and maybe I can compile them and share them with everybody and we can all just. Like weep out of happiness and love for our pets. If you’d like, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at Angus it and you can go to our website, www dot dot com to get the show notes of this episode as well as some extra little goodies. I tend to add every time I do an pro and a blog post. I also good at the words. Okay. I hope that you find the pet soulmate that’s met for you and that you get. Cute little Christmas socks for Christmas. Even if you don’t celebrate it somehow, it’s just going to happen to you and you’re going to get pictures of their faces on the socks and then your dog will end up eating of a socks. You might not even have a dog, but surprise you. I have a dog now. Hope you’re a dog person. That was probably the worst one I’ve ever done it, and I will talk to you next Wednesday, which I feel like is going to be a very

📍

magical episode by half hours.

The Monthly Meltdown: Naughty and Nice December Goals

Happy December! I hope you had a great November. Mine was filled with the following joys:

  • I won NaNoWriMo! Holy cow!
  • I got a psychiatrist. Holy cow!
  • I’m changing my medications. H-holy cow.
  • I’m catching a cold. Cow.

Needless to say, I’m ready for a new month and that coveted clean slate.

These were my goals for November:

So….

  1. HELL YEAH, I won NaNo.
  2. My home is still full of junk, but now it’s junk in piles. Like, beautiful junk towers. So…I’ll do something with those towers this month.
  3. Lol, no.
  4. LOLOLOLOL, no.

Between new meds, crazy side effects, and NaNo, I did not have the capacity to do all four goals. I tried to take a step back this month and choose some better goals!

What are your goals for December? HOW WAS YOUR DECADE EW WHAT BUT YES.

A Thank You to My Flaws, Fears, and Frustrations

To the Loud-Ass Kids on the Playground

Hey kids. You annoy the hell out of me. You freak out my dog, you leave trash in my patio, and you like to play that dumb game where you grab a big rock and bang it against the electrical box. I don’t know why your parents don’t stop you, but they seem fine unleashing you demons into the world to plague the rest of us.

However, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to say….thank you. As much as it pains me.

I’m not a huge fan of kids. Mostly because they are loud. But what I will say is that each and every one of you loves me dog. And my dog loves you. Thank you for being her friend.

My Car Troubles

A huge shoutout to my car for not dying this year, but doing everything it could to make that happen. Three batters and four new tires later, you and I still hit the road on the daily.

You caused me a LOT of stress this year, but you also showed me that I have a great support system that will not only offer me words of encouragement, but will drive me in the rain to get new tires.

Traffic

You make my blood boil. You steal my precious minutes of life after work away from me.

But today, I thank you for giving me time for the things I love. I’m not the best at letting myself take down time since I’m always afraid I should be doing something else. But when you’re stuck in a car with nowhere to go, you suddenly find yourself enthralled in an audiobook or binging a podcast. 

While you still are the bain of my existence, thanks traffic for giving me back time.

To my old friend, Anxiety

Hi, Anxiety. We’ve known each other for as long as I can remember. I didn’t recognize you until I was in my early twenties, but you always were nearby, like my own shadow. You have caused me immeasurable pain, cutoff life experiences for me, and terrozied me on the daily.

But you’ve also shown me tenacity.

By learning to work with you, and not against you, I’ve learned how to weild your powers. When you used to make me overthink to the point of insanity, I now use that analytical mind to solve problems and notice details others can’t see. When I used to fear trying new things, I realized that I could turn that fear into excitement. I learned that if I was going to be afraid no matter what, I might as well go in with everything I’ve got.

My anxiety has turned me into an explorer. The fear and panic still creep in, but they now fuel me. With that energy, I’m able to take in the world, one step at a time.

Dear Depression

Oh, depression, you old bastard. It’s hard for me to think of things to be thankful for with you. You make me eat emotionally, let go of friendships, turn me against myself. You sort of piss on my own parade. 

When I think about you, depression, I think about hopelessness. I think about the darkest times of my life. You’re kind of asshole. Actually, no. You are an asshole.

But, you’ve also taught me a lesson that took me many years to learn – the art of being kind to myself.

Between my anxiety, my upbringing, and my ruthless perfectionist tendencies, I’ve spent many years thinking of myself as “less than.” I can see clearly how I could be better, and yet, I’m not doing anything to do it. Or, so I tell myself.

You creep out of the shadows and bring me down with you, but when you do, I have to take a step back and put myself force, a position I had never willingly done in my past. Because of you, I see the importance of loving myself and giving myself an actual chance. 

I’m not perfect, and I’m working on letting that image go. In a way, your dickish nature has released me from my impossible standards I had set for myself.

My Weight Gain

Thank you, weight gain, for all that you have given. Mostly, you given me a higher BMI, stretch marks, and bigger pants. But, even through it all, you’ve still given me something valuable.

Clarity. 

I have spent the majority of my life picking apart my body. I have never been skinny and I don’t even know if I fit into the commercialized version of a plus size girl. I don’t recognize my body, and I blame a lot of my life’s troubles on it. If someone doesn’t like me, I think it must be because of my size. When I was younger, I was told by those close to me that boys wouldn’t like me if I was “fat.” I took that to heart and etched it in my brain.

If I am fat, I am not valued.

However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that I use my weight as a shield. It’s easier to think that I have trouble dating because of my weight than to dig deeper and realize that I have sever trust issues. It’s easy to think that I don’t belong because of my weight instead of realizing that deep down, I don’t believe in my own worth. 

My weight has contributed to these items, but only because society has deemed it so. If I lost weight, maybe it would be easier, but those problems wouldn’t go away. 

So thank you, my extra pounds, back rolls, chubby thighs, and blossoming second chin. Thank you for showing me that I need to focus on my real issues, and not pick away at an image that won’t heal me.

How NaNoWriMo Helps My Mental Health | National Novel Writing Month

For the fourth year in a row, I will be attempting the writing challenge for National Novel Writing Month, known as NaNoWriMo.

In the month of November, thousands of writers will attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

It’s…kinda bonkers.

I’ve won each year so far, but it took a lot of self-acceptance to get there. This challenge is a mental one, and I’ve found that every year, I learn something significant about how I frame my day-to-day life, the stories I tell in my head, and how I can be too critical of myself.

The best way to conquer NaNoWriMo is to shut off your inner editor. If you spend your day trying to write the perfect page the first time around, you will never reach your word count. It’s hard to let go of the perfectionist tendency to be amazing on the first try, but that’s why we have this beautiful thing called a rough draft.

You could be writing about aliens in one scene and then decide, you know what, I honestly want to write a Western, and then chance the aliens to cowboys in the next scene. And you just plow forward with your book being a Western. You don’t spend two weeks rewriting what you already had. You can edit in December and January: the main point is to prove to yourself that you can write a book!

NaNoWriMo also has shown me that even with a day job and a social life, I can still find time to write. In fact, NaNo makes me schedule my life and it’s FANTASTIC. I do my chores, I workout, I get my life together–all so I can block off some writing time to reach this goal.

In this episode, I talk about how the lessons of NaNoWriMo have crossed over into my life, especially with my anxiety and depression. If you’re writing this month, I send you all my good vibes and best wishes!

Writing Inspiration

The main source – http://www.nanowrimo.org! You can log your word count, make writing buddies, and set yourself writing sprints to help you knock out your daily writing session.

The #amwriting Hashtag

While you’re going to find your kind using the #NaNoWriMo hashtag on Twitter and Insta, the #amwriting hashtag is chock full of writers and authors of all sorts. Encouragement, inspiration, and good spirits are plentiful with your fellow writers here!

Writing Prompts

Sometimes you need outside help to spark your creative mind! There are hundreds of prompt generators and lists online to help guide you in your plot. I like to have a couple of different tools on hand and love this writing prompt deck! The questions are great for journaling, but can also apply to certain characters you’re writing about. Almost like you’re interviewing them!

aNd yOu CaN uSe my CODE ANGUSEYETEA for 15% off! Yeehaw!

What I Wish I Knew in High School as an Anxious, Depressed Teen

What I Wish I Knew in High School as an Anxious, Depressed Teen | Angus Eye Tea

I was a hot mess in high school. Unfortunately for me, a lot of people around me–including myself–didn’t quite understand anxiety or depression. This meant that a lot of the time, people assumed I was:

  • Just a pissy teenager
  • A brat
  • Weak
  • A “worrier”
  • Stable overachiever
  • Lazy

In this episode, I talk about my experience with anxiety and depression in high school and really dive into what was NOT helpful from my peers, elders, etc.

What Could Have Helped Me

Organization

I was very messy through my high school years. I had no concept of how to keep a binder, go through a to-do list, or even time block my day. My brain took that to mean that assignments would take hours to complete and I’d never get to have any fun ever again. Ironically, I’d end up sitting on my floor, to panicked to even attempt this eternal assignment. Then, I’d have to rush to get it done the next morning.

BestSelf has this scholar planner that I would HAVE LOVED TO HAVE IN HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE. I’m almost mad this wasn’t around for my school days. I can only imagine how much more calm planning out my day would have made me. Sigh.

FYI – I’m an ambassador for BestSelf! Love their stuff, and you can get 15% using code anguseyetea!

Creative Outlets

I didn’t join my improv team until Junior year of high school, and once I did, it helped me so much. I suddenly had a group of people I saw weekly, something I could achieve that wasn’t related to my academics, and it got me out of the house. Whether it be a club, a blog, or what have you, having something I could work on that wasn’t homework was empowering and a breath of fresh air.

Therapy

If I’d had a chance to talk to an adult who wasn’t my parent or a teacher, I think I could have gotten a lot of my chest. I also would have been diagnosed earlier and would have started learning coping techniques to help me. If you’re the kid, see if your school has a counselor or, if you feel comfortable, ask your parents to see one. If you’re the parent, keep an open mind and see if you can make therapy happen. IT IS SO GREAT.

Ask For Help

On a similar note, I wish I had asked for help and not assumed that I was this “weak” person that couldn’t handle life. In my opinion, you’re never too young or old to start reading Brene Brown (will I ever go a post without mentioning her? I doubt it.). She has a Netflix special as well as an awesome TedTalk you should check out.

Time Stamps

  • 2:37: I explain my behaviors in high school and what my life looked like.
  • 4:14: I talk about my LOVELY BODY IMAGE as a TEEN.
  • 5:52: How getting A’s looked fine on the outside, but was destroying me on the inside.
  • 9:26: The debunking begins mwhahaha.
  • 10:17: “Yelling at someone to smile makes sense when someone is depressed!”
  • 12:10: “Berating a depressed person for being ‘lazy’ is a great idea!”
    • “It’s like saying, ‘Hey, you did what you could today and it sucked.” You can’t ‘fix’ it that way. [Lack of motivation is] not something that they can just turn a light switch on because, again, and this is going to be REAL shocking, people do not want to feel like this.”
  • 14:35: How the stereotypes of the “moody teenager” can be dismissive of someone with a mental health disorder.
  • 16:29: When I took off my mask of happiness, I was yelled at for not being good enough. I talk about that experience and how you can avoid that as well.
  • 19:24: The pressure to get good grades and get into college ran me into the ground.
    • “…if there had been an adult on the outside who had seen that I was going to get this perfection at any cost to myself, it would have been a nice time to kind of step in and say, ‘Hey, this is not a healthy lesson to learn moving forward because you’re not always going to be able to make something perfect.'”
  • 24:01: Telling a highschooler that “it gets better” or “just wait for college, it’ll be the best years of your life” is not helpful. It doesn’t give them anything to work with in the present, and can be damaging if they go to college and still have anxiety/depression.
  • 27:33: What I would tell Teen Elaine.
  • 30:39: The most helpful thing you can do for a teen? Listen to them.
  • 32:00: Outro fun!

Do you have do’s or don’ts you’d add to this list? Let me know!

The Monthly Meltdown: November 2019

In The Monthly Meltdown series, I review my previous goals, assess how I’m doing, and then set my new goals for the coming month.

OCTOBER GOALS | Time Stamp: 8:00

  1. I did not walk Fern to three new places. I kept travelling this month and didn’t have my act together. But, I did try to take her on longer walks and make sure she got quality outside time. [8:00].
  2. I’ve some what figured out buying a car? But mostly, I figured out which car I want. Looks like now is not a good time for me to make a big purchase (thanks, psychiatry!), but I’m glad that I learned that! [12:30].
  3. I know what I’m going to get everyone, but didn’t actually buy them. I love my people, but let’s be real – they’d lose my presents if I sent them this early. [14:00].

Reflection On October

I ended up changing my focus from my three original goals and I’m not mad about it. I realized that financially, I need to focus on my health. I sought out and booked my first psychiatrist appointment in October, and that’s more important than me deciding which Honda Civic I want to take through the Taco Bell Drive-Thru.

To hear more about the goals I ended up focusing on, head to the 16:00 minute mark!

November Goals | 2019

  1. To learn more about my NaNoWriMo experience, you can listen to my episode on how NaNo has helped my mental health here.
  2. I’m a hot mess and tend to have issues keeping my home clean (i.e. my Spring Cleaning episode where my friend came over and we attacked my home for five hours straight). I’ve gotten so much better at maintaining my home and want to keep it up!
  3. Between podcasting, NaNo, and my #sloblife, my posture is getting heinous. Yoga will be a great way to connect to mindfulness while also caring for my body.
  4. I have spending issues where I think Amazon can cure my depression. Time to face the music and see where I’m putting my money!

Goal Inspiration

As an ambassador for BestSelf Co, I get to share with you my favorite planner with a discount! Use code ANGUSEYETEA to get 15% off your order.

Right now, they have a super helpful gift giving guide for all the folks in your life! From writing prompt decks, to planners, to wall calendars, you can help everyone in your life get their act together! (Jk, people in your life may already have it together. This may only apply to me. LOVE YOU, FRIENDS & FAMILY!).

Some house-cleaning inspo.
My fav hippie yoga
  • I use Digit to save up for my spending sprees. It’s been so helpful to prevent me from splurging! First 30 days are free, and then it’s $5/month. For me, the cost is worth it due to how much I was spending before!
  • Clarity is another budgeting app I’m using that has been eye opening. Clarity let’s you know how much you’ve spent on Taco Bell, Walmart, gas, etc. for either the last week, month, or…year. Yikes. But, also good to know! You can also make mini-savings goals in the app, check on your credit debt, and more.

Let me know what is inspiring you this month!

Creativity And Depression: How To Find Your Muse When You’re Deep In Your Blues

Angus Eye Tea | Creativity & Depression: How To Find Your Muse When You’re Down In Your Blues

I’m a creative person, so when I feel that source dwindle, I feel like I’ve lost part of who I am. If I can’t write, or podcast, or plan amazing Halloween costumes for my dog, then what good am I?⁠

Part of having depression as a creative is learning to work with your depression, not against it. Some people find it useful to view their depression as a separate entity from themselves; others like to see it as a part of them. Whichever view you relate with most, use that perspective to help you. For me, I like to think that my depression gives me special insight, or a different perspective, on how to approach a project. I don’t create the same way I do when I’m out of an episode–and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.⁠

In today’s episode, I share with you some ways I’ve powered through on creative projects when I’m feeling down, apathetic, lethargic…you know, depressed!

Creative Inspiration

Vibrant Visionaries: Episode 16 – Molly Bailen on Self Care for Multi-Creatives

Vibrant Visionaries is a fantastic podcast hosted by Heidi Bennett. Heidi interviews multi-creatives about their process: what works, what doesn’t, struggles, wins, etc. It’s a great insight to other artists and creatives who have gone what you’re experiencing, and a well of advice to test out for yourself!

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Liz Gilbert

Clicking the book will take you to Amazon through my affiliate link, FYI!

Big Magic is a tad cheesy for my taste, but Liz Gilbert does an excellent job describing the pain, agony, and delight of chasing your muse. Quick read and great for a dash of inspiration!


Tessa Violet – my depression + creativity

“I don’t believe you are what you make.”

Heart Of Thorns by Bree Barton

I return to this video all the time. Tessa Violet is a singer/songwriter who suffers from anxiety and depression. This video does a great job talking about how the label of “artist” or “creative” can create a life crisis if you do get depressed and can’t fulfill that title anymore.

Bee-boop, affiliate link for Amazon!

I don’t normally read fantasy books. My usual go-to’s are either grotesquely romanticized World War II novels or an action-packed FBI novel. Bree Barton’s book has been SO FUN TO READ! Having a different story than I’m used to has helped me while I write mine for NaNoWriMo.


Chillin’ With Chili: The Recipe For The Deadpan Cook Plan Series

Last week, I attempted to cook up some chili. I figured the process would be simple – chili is essentially the garbage disposal of recipes. I assumed you dumped everything into a crockpot and then walked away.

Yet, I found a way to mess it up.

Making chili is easy and should be foolproof. But in my stubbornness and manic running around, I didn’t bother to grab one of my three cookbooks for a reference, nor did I feel the urge to look up a quick ingredient list online. Similar to how a bird naturally knows to migrate during the winter, I figured instinct would take over and create this dish.

That is how this happened:

 If vegetables went to a pool party.
If vegetables went to a pool party.

My chili was watery, had an overwhelming flavor salt, and was not chili.

So, to roll with this failure, I’m claiming it as a SUCCESSFUL Stewli: a hybrid stew/chili.

Below, you’ll find the wonderful recipe for this SALTY SURPRISE.

…Should I not call it that?

I’d say send me your beautiful stewlis but

a) That sounds way too close to stool, and

b) I truly doubt anyone will be inspired by this recipe.

Instead, maybe share some recipes even I can’t mess up, and we’ll put it to the test.

How To Reveal Your Hidden Passions: My Surprise Writing Adventure

This blog post accompanies the below podcast episode. Listen, read, and subscribe!

I have a handful of moments in my life where I have experienced complete and utter confusion, wondering what I am doing with my life.  In no particular order:

  • When I unexpectedly found myself abandoned in Gatwick airport with no phone and no map.

  • When I brought my dog home for the first time and she jumped on my couch and it hit me – oh, I have a dog now.

  • When I sat in my car fifteen minutes before my first improv class where I knew no one.

Each of them brought their own stresses with them, and each of them turned out with varying degrees of happy to tragic endings. They were moments that forced me to get myself together and figure out what was happening, whether I had made the decision to be a part of it or not.

Right now, however, I am not alone in a foreign country. I am not bringing home a new pet, nor am I off taking new creative classes. I’m sitting at home in dead silence wondering what I am doing with my life.

The thought what am I doing isn’t said out of fear for me most times. I find that usually I’m making sure that I haven’t “fallen asleep” with my life.  Lately, I feel like I’ve been fringing on waking up and to be honest, I could not even begin to tell you what I mean by that. I have NO idea what I mean by that – and for a gal who owns two tarot decks and three crystals, consider me shook.

My friend, Laura, runs a blog about her running adventures that parallels her creative experiences as well. She started posting writing prompts to not only motivate herself to write more, but to get everyone else off their ass and…get back on their ass to write. I completed the prompt and had a spine-chilling moment.

I had forgotten I loved writing.

I have loved writing since I was little. I used to think I didn’t have a passion growing up because there aren’t really writing clubs for elementary kids, and most people don’t think putting down that you isolated yourself in your room for hours on end writing stories is great to put on a resume. But writing has always found a way back to me. I abandoned it when I started high school, and then it crept back in my junior year. I dropped it for a while again, but then I had a professor in college who looked me dead in the eye and asked, “Have you ever thought about a career in writing?”

That question changed my life. Is that too dramatic? It is. But I get to say that because i AM A WRITER aNDd drama iS IN M y BLOOD.

 Just to clarify, this is a stock photo. I do not have man hands. Well, I might. But that’s more of a body image issue than fact. Stop looking at my hands omg ur being so rude.
Just to clarify, this is a stock photo. I do not have man hands. Well, I might. But that’s more of a body image issue than fact. Stop looking at my hands omg ur being so rude.

I decided to give my writing a chance. I took writing classes. I joined the newspaper. I sat down and gave it my all, and absolutely loved it.

When I graduated, I lost touch with that side of myself again. I assumed that my writing had only been fueled by a grade, that the pressure to receive an A had been my only motivation. Any great pieces I had were the product of a judgement system.

This, my heifers, is imposter syndrome at its finest.

I do NaNoWriMo religiously each year, and every year I remember how much I love writing. But, I’m afraid to say, I really have stopped writing outside of November. I’ll do blogs which, for some reason, I don’t count as writing. Good for me. But I haven’t sat down, thought about a project, and then completed it in a long time.

So, when my friend Laura nagged me to do her prompt (I’m kidding, Laura. Kind of.), I thought “I’ll just word vomit and get over it.”

Reader, I did not get over it.

Since the writing prompt, I can’t stop thinking about my writing career, what I’ve done with it, and if I’ve lost what I had built up. Like I said, writing always comes back around for me, and I love it every time. It’s like each time I mention going to the gym and how great it is for me, but in between lulls of working out, I think I absolutely hate it. The main difference is that I yoyo more with my writing and have, uh, more lulls with the whole gym thing.

This is why I am finding myself tonight, sitting under my gravity blanket, thinking about what I’m doing with my life. Or, more importantly, what am I now going to do with my life? And to ask this question requires me to have some ski poles at the ready because I tend to do the Diamond Back slippery slope trail on that one.

I’m not sure what the answer is, but I’m hoping my March Mental Health goals will help me get there. Here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish in March

  • Write 5 days out of the week

  • Have a finished writing piece by the end of the month

  • Care for my body by working out and eating healthy

  • Care for my soul by not holding back

If I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s that you shouldn’t ignore the universe when it keeps aggressively throwing things your way.

It is all possible.