Initially, I signed up to do a walk to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), because I wanted a small walk that my dog and I could start out on. He and I had been doing some walking/jogging training and I decided that maybe we need to set a goal. I started looking at local runs and this walk came up.
The walk appealed to me, because as a sufferer of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) I want to help others. I write this blog as a means of trying to share my thoughts, feelings and experiences with others. I figured if I can share here that going into a public setting like this walk would be nothing.
I set up my donation website and I read the online literature. I knew I was a going to get Hondo a wee bandanna to wear and me green beads. The beads signifying “A personal struggle or attempt”. I have been blogging, I have been going to therapy… I was strong, I could do this.
I developed what my friend and I refer to “tummy nerves” when the time to go to the walk approached. I took my prescription stomach medication and I ate a bowl of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios (I can’t eat gluten or sugar). When I packed up to go I still didn’t feel awesome, but by the time Hondo and I got there I felt a wee better. But then I saw all of the cars and people.
I cowboy-ed up and parked my car in a parking lot I knew, the park is next to a community college campus I attended for some years and there’s a nice under the road crossing from it. I took a deep breathe, loaded up my cinch bag with my wallet, keys, phone, my Yeti water bottle and Hondo’s collapsed water bowl. Hondo whined at me from his car seat, he needed to potty, but was willing to wait for me to be ready.
My “Emotional Support Companion”
Hondo increased his whining when I cut the engine and started backing my bag. His whining kept me on task. I needed to get him out of the car, on his leash and to some nice grass for potty.
With an exchange of kisses and a hug, I took the readied Hondo from the truck. I could feel the sick feeling still, but Hondo would have none of that. There was potty to be made, exploring to be done and most importantly, people to meet.
Not accepting my hesitation, he began leading me along the parking lot following the other people. Pausing for a wee and a sniff as he went, doing things with a bounce in his step, a wag of his tail and flick of his massive butterfly wing ears. Looking back at me with his doggy smile and slicked back ears as if to say, “come on mommy, it’s going to be fun.”
Through the culvert under the busy road and into the park where music flowed. Tents setup on the green tables under the pavilions. Hondo didn’t hesitate he lead me into the hustle and bustle, saying, “hello” to people and dogs as we went. Eventually, finding our way to registration.
After registering, I took Hondo to purchase a $10 puppy bandanna to wear for the day. He didn’t find it, chew on it or play with it. He wore it and went about socializing me.
We hit the food pavilion, where I got a bottle of water and a banana. I hauled Hondo to a halt and sat down to eat the banana, letting him have a bit for himself. His eyes and ears taking in everything and everyone.
After we finished the Banana, we mingled. Hondo and I met a lot of people. He is a very energetic and loving little guy. He wants to share ever bit of his love with everyone and everything he meets.
We came across a girl in a wheel chair. She reached down and commented on his cuteness. Instinctively, he climbed up the chair and into her lap, licking her face. The act brought pure joy and happiness to her face.
As he and I continued walking around, Hondo met more and more people. He raised up on his hind legs, so that they could pet him and meet him easier. Every person he greeted left with a smile.
Hondo and I found a spot on the green to settle on. He met a Minature Schnauzer and they played as we listened to the man playing the guitar. I put some water in Hondo’s pop up bowl, which he drank and we shared with his new friend.
The opening ceremony began and the organizer began to talk about the different colors of beads and what they stood for. For each color, she had a person on the state whose story she read.
The first story was with the color purple, which represents the lost of a friend or family member. The boy wearing the beads had been volunteering on the board for the local chapter. Something he began after a friend at college had killed himself. In his story, he said that he hoped that his work would help to show people who suffer from Suicidal thoughts that they are not alone and that there are people who understand.
As I listened to the first story, I pulled Hondo into my lap and close to me as tears welled up into my eyes. He stood there and let me hold him until the stories were over and it was time for the walking to begin.
I began to realize that all of these people around me where here, because they understood and cared. I could feel all of the emotions around me as Hondo and I began our walk.
We walked along until I fell into place next to a mother and daughter. She began asking me questions about Hondo and his breed. I told her about the breed and how his temperament was. I was a bit taken aback when she asked me about my struggle.
She said she was there as a support of someone who suffers, both of her children. So, she was there to support me too. Which again, took me back.
I told her how I recently found out I have Borderline Personality Disorder and how learning about that has helped with dealing with some of my depression. I told her about how before I was struggling with long periods of depression and hopelessness. How doing research on the diagnosis really has helped me to understand how to get things into perspective.
I found out that her children and I both go to the same doctor’s office, but see different doctors. Our discussion changed when we came up on the line of shoes.
People had brought shoes of the people they had lost and lined them along one side of the lake. The shoes started off as military boots, but changed to a wide range of shoes from running shoes, to flip flops, to loafers and a pair of tactical boots like a police officer would wear. It was a lot of shoes and it drove home the fact that there are a lot of people struggling with suicidal thoughts.
By the time we returned to the green, I was holding Hondo close to me and petting him. I settled on the grass again and hugged him a few times. He licked my face as if to say, “He knew and that everything was going to be alright.”
The closing ceremony started with a lady sharing her story and struggle. She talked about she went with undiagnosed PTSD for a log time. She had done the overnight walk and was struggling through a flashback, but the people around her wouldn’t leave her side and didn’t until she had complete the walk.
Then came time for them to release butterflies as a sign of hope and not being alone. Butterflies are a sign of rebirth and starting over. I looked at my dog who is a Papillon and smiled to myself. Papillon means butterfly in French. He was a butterfly I wasn’t going to let go of that day.
Then song “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd began playing and I pulled Hondo into my lap and began crying into his back. The lady’s story, the stories from the opening ceremony, everything about the day had been an emotional toll on me. I kept my sobs down as I buried my face in his back, letting my tears be dried by his soft rabbit like hair.
I looked up as the song ended and I heard people talking about the butterflies coming down into the crowd. As I did, a butterfly landed on the grass next to us. I smiled as Hondo hopped from my lap to investigate it. I thought to myself, “A butterfly sniffing a butterfly.”
The day helped me realize how much the world had changed in 25 years and how not alone I really am.