I grew up with a menagerie of pets. We had a carpet snake, a wallaby, birds, chooks that slept in and stopped laying eggs, a baby possum who grew big and fat and broke into our kitchen, an army of kangaroos who bounced in and bounced out of our lives at varying times, a budgie who got stoned and slept upside down, cats, dogs, mice and a pregnant blue tongue lizard.
These babies were my friends. I was a bit wierd at school, either outgoing and popular, or huddled in an alcove with pigeons and pigeon shit for company at lunchtime.
The love I had for my animals connected me to life and gave me passion to be their voice. I formed a club with a view to saving whales. I loved these gentle ocean going giants. Why would anybody want to hunt them to near extinction? The madness of humanity weighed heavily on me from a young age.
Curious, my classmates wanted in on my little club, then quickly lost interest and joined the stationary club. I was disgusted at their perceived shallowness. It was an outrage!
Much later in life, I was in a lot of physical pain from my back condition, doped up on painkillers and tired of the dating scene. I went to my local shopping centre and came home with a puppy. She was tiny and frizzy, and I loved her to bits. She caused love to swell from my heart, which was broken and needed healing.
I don’t have kids, probably due to mental and physical factors beyond my control. Molly brought out a maternal instinct in me. Furthermore, the arrival of her brought the arrival of my first real relationship. I don’t actually know if it was her who brought love, or whether her presence triggered love in me, and a letting go of the expectation that I had to find love. I realised the looking outside of myself for one type of love was unrealistic. I was worn down. I gave up trying. I surrendered and enjoyed the love that was already there, the love of family and dog. And when I gave up trying to find love, love found me.
A succession of failed relationships may have broken my heart, but they hadn’t broken me.
Through loving Molly, I learned that love is pure, and it lies beyond the realm of hurt. I could still feel love, even when I couldn’t feel trust.
Molly has sat with me during bad physical pain. She has also seen the many moods of me, the sleepless nights of hypomania, the depressive episodes requiring medication, the crazy bipolar anger and the meltdowns when I couldn’t stop wailing because of some ridiculously out of proportion event such as a computer glitch. She has licked away my tears and put her head in my hand to comfort me. She is truly a wonder dog.
Since discovering I have bipolar 2, I have been grateful that I work with dogs. The casual hours accommodate both my mental and physical issues. Working with dogs is good for me. The dogs are real and full of love. They make me laugh, even when I’m not travelling well.
Being in the park is great for mental health. I am glad I am there and not in some results-driven office environment, supermarket, pub or shop.
Because of mental illness, I am not this outwardly material success story. Most things I start crash and burn before takeoff, remain incomplete or sit in a drawer alongside my half-written business plan, certificates, diplomas and degrees. My ventures venture nowhere, I am the sole reader of my blogs, and physical pain has limited my options.
Since my bipolar diagnosis, I have thought to myself ‘at last I now know what’s been going on all my life’ This means I can dispense with the pep-talk mumbo-jumbo about being positive, manifesting, needing to try harder (even when it’s killing me) and wondering what’s wrong with me.
I can laugh at my grandiose notions and hypomanic it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time decisions, and my deciding something absolutely has to go my way, and if it doesn’t, it’s unfair, and God hates me, and is really Tony Abbott in disguise.
If I smash something in a fit of rage, I’ll regret it, but I don’t have to spend my life hiding what I am, in fear of people finding out I am crazy. I can get help to manage my rages and moods through the right medication and lifestyle adjustment.
As I write, Molly is sleeping next to me. I call her my little friend.
I am going to finish writing now, so I can give her a cuddle and tell her how much I love her.