Lessons from my beloved @wafflenugget

The beauty of having a puppy when you are depressed is hard to express. I first felt grateful for @wafflenugget's companionship and cuddling in my many hours of slumber. When I was sleeping for 18-20 hours a day, while others struggled to grapple with my fatigue, Waffle welcomed me into her snoozletown routine without hesitation. With an endless supply of licks and snuggles, I like to believe that waffle merely thought, 'so we gets to do this together - how great is that?!'
I grew to love her role in my recovery more and more as she barked me out of bed, grumbled reminders for breakfast and howled until we got sufficient fresh air and exercise. Now, as I look back, I realize her behavior offers the perfect answer to the question I am often asked when discussing my health - how can I help someone else I know who is struggling with their own mental health?
Through my beloved @wafflenugget, I'm going to tell you:

1. Be there. Don't talk. Don't ask what to do. Be there and sit patiently. Presence matters. Waffle used to lie with her head on my pillow. I wouldn't talk at first but when I was ready, the words and tears would flow.

1. Be there. Don't talk. Don't ask what to do. Be there and sit patiently. Presence matters. Waffle used to lie with her head on my pillow. I wouldn't talk at first but when I was ready, the words and tears would flow.

2. When the words come and tears fall, stay and listen. Don't interject with questions. Don't draw comparisons and say it's okay. Let the truth come out, let the darkness tell its story, no matter how distorted that truth may appear or the story may sound. 

2. When the words come and tears fall, stay and listen. Don't interject with questions. Don't draw comparisons and say it's okay. Let the truth come out, let the darkness tell its story, no matter how distorted that truth may appear or the story may sound. 

3. Acknowledge the words, acknowledge the pain. Waffle used to lick my salty cheeks every few minutes but no matter what, she would always let me cry.

3. Acknowledge the words, acknowledge the pain. Waffle used to lick my salty cheeks every few minutes but no matter what, she would always let me cry.

4. When the quiet returns, express your acceptance and love for the entire person in that very moment. Express your support. When I stopped sobbing, waffle used to sit on me. It was her way of protecting me and making sure I knew she was absolutely there no matter what.

4. When the quiet returns, express your acceptance and love for the entire person in that very moment. Express your support. When I stopped sobbing, waffle used to sit on me. It was her way of protecting me and making sure I knew she was absolutely there no matter what.

5. Exercise tough love. With an acknowledgement that you don't understand and are there to help, demand action. Demand that the bed be left behind, food be eaten and fresh air be experienced. 

5. Exercise tough love. With an acknowledgement that you don't understand and are there to help, demand action. Demand that the bed be left behind, food be eaten and fresh air be experienced. 

6. Offer tireless encouragement. 

6. Offer tireless encouragement. 

7. Celebrate each step, even if it is just a step out of bed.

7. Celebrate each step, even if it is just a step out of bed.

8. Allow for GUILT FREE relaxation after action.

8. Allow for GUILT FREE relaxation after action.

9. Forgive relapse and show your forgiveness. Relapse is part of the process and days on the couch in tears just happen. 

9. Forgive relapse and show your forgiveness. Relapse is part of the process and days on the couch in tears just happen. 

10. Believe wholeheartedly in recovery. Recovery is possible. 

10. Believe wholeheartedly in recovery. Recovery is possible. 

11. And when the darkness returns, which it will, begin again at number 1.

11. And when the darkness returns, which it will, begin again at number 1.

Kate Fisher