This morning I went for our usual 8-mile walk with Maria, along the Forth and Clyde canal and using the magnificent Helix network of paths, allowing pedestrians and cyclists to travel throughout Falkirk on specially designated paths.  The sun was shining, the skies were blue, and it felt great to be out walking my dog!

Until of course we neared home, and Maria ran across the full length of a park and into a cemetery.  I was too exhausted to run or even walk fast and when I reached the graveyard, I was unsure which way to go, but two wide-eyed deer ran past me at speed, and so I knew to go in the direction, they were running from. 

I spent some time wandering around, whistling and calling Maria’s name, but knowing she would find me again.  I began reading the grave stones I passed and each one reminded me that I was alive.  And that life is short. And to make the most of each day.  Then Maria arrived covered in muck.  I knew I should have used a stern tone with her but she was super ecstatic to see me, and I couldn’t help but pull her into a cuddle, telling her how much I loved her.

As Maria lay sleeping on her tartan covered, executive chair, next to my desk, I spent the afternoon preparing for a couple of talks I was giving in a school the next day.  I found it difficult, not only to concentrate but for my thoughts to form.  There was a fuzziness in my brain, like I knew the answers and sentences were there somewhere, I just couldn’t retrieve them into conscious thought. 

This is why I am such a firm advocate of the wholly scientific term, ‘winging it’ … because I have to be.  Many a time, my mind just doesn’t allow me to prepare for stepping up on stage and without a fool proof plan such as winging it … I would worry too much and it would ruin my enjoyment. It helps that I’ve adopted a firm belief; that all I can do, is do the best I can.  This is an amazing belief to have but it does take commitment … to do the best you can.

It’s bed time and I don’t feel good.  I’m anxious.  I don’t want to do talks tomorrow.  I don’t want to go out and face the world.  How can I stand up in front of an audience and talk … I can’t even think … then the voice that gets me through everything steps in … because Ishbel you are phenomenal at winging it.  People are going to love you, so just be yourself … that’s all you have done so far … through all the anxiety and all the public speaking is just be yourself … people love authentic people, regardless of differences. 

Then I lie my head on my pillow and I cry … my thoughts turn, and I pull Maria in close … the only reason I am alive is for my dog Maria.  She is the only reason I don’t kill myself.  Maybe I didn’t have the guts when I was younger, but I do now.  I notice tiny little thoughts creeping into my head that Maria is better off without me, that she will be happier with another human. 

But how much Maria adores me and how sick she gets when she’s apart from me and how she yelps when she greets me, with her tail wagging for an Olympic gold medal.  The way all she wants is her tummy rubbed and for her eyes to be looking into mine.

Maria’s love is stronger than any of my thoughts trying to justify why it would be okay if I killed myself.  But my friend who killed himself, was surrounded by loved ones, so perhaps it’s not Maria’s love that is strong enough.  Perhaps it’s the chemicals in my head that allow me still to use reason. 

Maybe it was me who rescued Maria, but it’s her who’s helping keep me alive now. 

Because I just want it to end.  This pain that is life.

Ishbel xxx

(Please note this is a live journal of my mental health journey … my thoughts may not always make sense!  Each blog post is published 5 days after it’s been written so as to minimize people’s worry during my low mental health moments.)