This is going to sound brutal, but I've got a mental health mantra that's been working for me for a while: 'Work with the dog that you've got'. Let me explain:
My dog Phoebe is a rescue, and she's an anxious babe. She's dog reactive. Windy days are hard for her to process. When we first got her, we believed that if we trained hard enough we'd be able to fix her.
Of course, that didn't happen. What did happen was we got more discouraged about her ability to calm down, and sensing our anxiety about this, she had even more trouble.
A 'misbehaving' dog is often seen as a failure of its owners to control it. But we didn't set Phoebe up. She's lived most of her life elsewhere, having experiences we don't know about, and we can never really understand why she is the darling, anxious little bug that she is.
Then I came across 'working with the dog that you've got'. Basically, she's never going to be a dog we can take to the dog park, or most cafes, or have play dates. And that's actually ok.
What she CAN do is work with us within her own framework. Other dogs are stressful, cool - we're working on just not reacting to other dogs. On paying more attention to me than to the distraction. Building a relationship where she knows that we've absolutely got her back.
How does this tie back to my own mental health? The 'dog' I've got to work with is only capable of so much. But I've always got its back. Can't get out of bed today? That's okay. Can't think straight? We can work with that.
Expecting to wake up with a different psychology/brain/framework is unreasonable. I need to celebrate the small wins (fed myself! Showered! Laughed!) and accept the parameters I'm living within.
Lesson: treat your brain the way I treat my anxious dog. Have empathy and patience with it, because everyone's doing their best. The end.
Thanks for sharing your stories and love. If you'd like to take some further action, please consider donating to @POTHAustralia, who do incredible work to keep vulnerable people and their pets together in times of hardship.

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