Family Matters/ A Sad Day

I’d been feeling bad enough because of my depression and anxiety lately but now a couple of family-related things have happened, which have only added to my worry and sadness. Be warned that this post is a very sad one.

***I’m putting a general trigger warning, for people with eating disorders, on the next paragraph (I mention weight loss and a restricted diet. Please don’t read if you think you might be triggered.***

I’m worried that my 15-year-old brother may have an eating disorder. He used to be quite overweight and would constantly be stuffing his face with biscuits, sweets, cereal, crisps and chocolate. Within the last few months, he’s changed his diet completely and now only ever seems to eat fruit. (I’m guessing that getting a girlfriend is probably what motivated him to suddenly become super-healthy). However, I feel that he’s taken things way too far in the opposite direction, and now it’s not healthy. He barely eats anything – maybe a bit of fruit and one proper meal a day. He tells us that he’s eaten more than that but no one ever sees him eating a proper breakfast or lunch. He’s been regularly forgetting his lunch money for school, telling my mum that one of his friends bought him something or shared something with him. But I’m fairly sure that he’s lying. On Sunday, he was playing in a football (soccer) match, but had only a piece of fruit (instead of both breakfast and lunch) before going to the game. He ended up fainting and hitting his head on the living room floor when he got back. It did seem to give him a scare, and he asked my mum for a doctors appointment the next morning. The doctor said he has lost quite a lot of weight (about 12lbs in the last 3 months) but she’s not too worried. He was told to get some rest, drink plenty of fluids and eat four meals a day. He didn’t go to school yesterday because he said he still felt dizzy/ unwell from fainting. Another thing that worries me is that he said he was worried the fainting was caused by something more sinister, and he mentioned he was worried about getting diabetes. When he used to overeat unhealthy foods all the time, I and my other family members mentioned to him a few times that we were worried about him possibly developing diabetes if he kept on eating the way he ate back then (for example, sometimes he’d eat an entire packet of biscuits as a “snack” when he got back from school). I worry that those comments are maybe what led him to do a 180 and end up eating so little that he passes out. Maybe not. Maybe I’m getting all worked up over nothing. I am pretty worried about him though.

End of trigger warning

The second thing is that my dog died very suddenly last night, which I (and everyone else in the family) is very upset about. He was only nine years old. We became very concerned about him after he left part of his breakfast uneaten. It was the first and only time in his life that he walked away from food. He got progressively worse throughout the day, and kept collapsing (as in walking a few steps then suddenly dropping down quickly onto his belly. His stomach looked very bloated. He started appearing very flat, in pain, and not his usual self by the afternoon. Walking seemed to be becoming very difficult for him. My mum had already booked him a vet appointment (it was supposed to be a check-up appointment for his boosters) that evening, so we thought we’d get him seen to then and he’d be okay. When we took him in, the vet soon became concerned, saying that his heart rate was very high, he looked very pale and was likely anaemic, and she could feel a mass in his abdomen. We don’t have a car at the moment but they sent one of the vet nurses to drive him from our practice to the bigger practice (the one where I did work experience) so he could have blood tests and his abdomen examined. We were really worried at this point.

One of the vets from the bigger practice phoned my mum back a couple of hours later, saying that they were about to begin surgery but that it wasn’t looking good, and we should prepare for the worst. About another hour and a half later, the vet phoned back saying that when they’d opened up our dog’s abdomen, it was just a mass of cancerous tumours – one of which was larger than a tennis ball – which were inoperable. He said the best thing for our dog at this point would be to never wake up from the anaesthetic, as he’d likely have died of internal bleeding overnight anyway. We were (and still are) in complete shock. There was no sign that there was anything wrong until just a few days ago, and no sign that anything was seriously wrong until yesterday morning. He hid it so well. We knew that his belly had become larger but we just thought that was due to him gaining weight because he didn’t want to go for walks as often. In hindsight, this was probably the first sign that there was something wrong, but we just thought it was because he was getting old. He only began to look really bloated a couple of days before he died. As is usually the case when things like this happen, I blame myself. I think: If I’d just asked mum to take him to the vets sooner, If I’d just realised the signs sooner… But this had clearly been going on for some time. I’m guessing that even if we’d taken him to the vets and they’d been able to pick up on it weeks or even months ago, it may still have been too late. I feel awful that he had to spend his last couple of conscious hours in the place he was most afraid of, but I know from work experience that the veterinary staff there are all really nice people, especially the vet nurse who drove our dog there.

So everyone in the family is really upset at the moment. I think the longest I’ve gone without crying (at least, while I’ve been awake) since last night is about 10 minutes. I even started crying while on the phone to the woman from the mental health charity (who finally phoned me back to arrange a meeting with the person I’ve been matched with) earlier today, which was rather embarrassing. In a way, it’s good that he died when he did (my sister has a “reading week” – in her case, the more accurate term is probably “sleep 14 hours a day and go out drinking week” – this week so she came home from uni on Sunday, to spend a few days here. She got to spend his last day and half with him. But nine just seems too young for a dog to die. I really hope he wasn’t in pain for long. He never whined or anything, even when we touched his abdomen. I’m really going to miss him. He was the dog that my siblings and I grew up with.

I find that I generally deal with this kind of thing by going into a state of derealisation. I feel ashamed even to cry in front of family members, so the derealisation allows me to appear like some sort of stoic badass, despite me being about the most sensitive person ever. My mind still hasn’t even registered that any of this has happened yet. It was the same for a couple of days after my parents told us they were getting a divorce. I still haven’t registered that I’m never again going to be greeted by him wagging his tail at me when I go downstairs for breakfast or get back from my grandparents’. I’m really going to miss taking him for walks. I was supposed to be volunteering with the conservation group today but decided against it because I’d probably just have started crying every 5 minutes and I don’t want other people to see or have to deal with that. The weird thing is that when I decided against going, my mind suddenly went “It’s fine if I don’t go along today. If I want to get some fresh air I can just walk the…oh…right.” I feel really bad that I didn’t stroke his head or anything before my mum and I left him (I didn’t want to make leaving him any more stressful for him). I had no idea I’d never see him again. And as we don’t have a car at the moment, none of us could go and see him for a proper goodbye. There are maybe people reading this thinking that I’m pathetic for being this upset over a dog (though quite frankly, if you don’t get really upset when a pet dies, you’re not even human). I’m not sure but I think this sort of thing is maybe slightly worse for me because I’m so socially isolated and have so few people who are close to me. It feels more like I’ve lost a close friend than a pet. It’s probably even worse for my mum because I think our dog was almost like a fifth child for her. He gave us so many happy memories in his short life. What I love about dogs (and almost all non-human animals) is that they don’t care if you’re socially awkward and have no friends and have never had a boyfriend. They like you as long as you feed them, walk them, and give them attention/ affection. They don’t betray you and they can’t really hurt you emotionally except in their death/ if something bad happens to them.

It seems that I should say something to slightly brighten up such a sad post and to try and make myself feel a bit better. On the bright side, I’m finally meeting a potential befriender next week, which will hopefully help with my SA, and self-esteem/ confidence. I’m also going to go along to my first meet up with the new SA group on Friday night. And I got a first-class mark for my last assignment, despite how much of a mess I was while writing it, and that most other people on my course are complaining on facebook that it was marked really harshly. I get first-class marks for most of my assignments but it has no effect whatsoever on my confidence in myself to do well in the future. I still end up stressing out and worrying that I’m going to fail. And even though I know all of this is illogical, I still feel useless and inferior when compared to everyone else on my course.

I’m sorry for such a sad post. It’s just been one crappy thing after another lately. October always seems to be a bad month for me. I’m hoping I can get through uni tomorrow without blubbering like a baby.

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10 Responses to Family Matters/ A Sad Day

  1. charge291 says:

    It doesn’t feel appropriate to “like” this kind of post so I thought I would just say I’m sorry to hear about the situation with your brother and the sad new about your dog.
    I had a very similar situation with my cat around 7 years ago. She never eat her dinner one day so my mum, dad and sister took her to the vet. It turned out she had a twisted stomach and had to be put down straight away. I thought she would just be getting antibiotics or so I never went but I never saw her again.

    As someone with thee dogs myself, I know how big a part of the family, and loved, they can be. R.I.P

    I hope your brother is ok. By asking for a Dr’s appointment, I assume he was aware that he was going about weight loss the wrong way so that’s obviously a good sign. Hopefully he learns how to control his weight via healthier methods.
    Well done on the uni and befriender things.

    • Gemma says:

      Sorry to hear about your cat. 😦 That must have been awful. The suddenness of it is the worst part.

      Apparently my dog died of hemangiosarcoma, so there’s nothing we could have done. This has put my mind at ease a bit because the “What if..?” questions were gnawing away at me the day after he died. I just hope he wasn’t suffering for long. He only seemed to be in pain on the day he died.

      I hope so. My parents tell my brother to drink plenty of water and eat something as soon as he gets back from football, and he does seem to be eating a little bit more now.

      Thank you. 🙂

  2. Sorry about your dog. 😦 I don’t think it’s pathetic to be that upset about it. I know when my cat dies I’ll be inconsolable. I also love how pets don’t care if you’re socially awkward, they love you anyway.

  3. What a blow. And what a beautiful little dog. I’m so sorry. These damned pets always break our hearts. I’m also sorry to hear about your brother. The hypochondria is usually just another form of anxiety. So that’s two of you in the family! I’m not making light of it. Maybe hoping you can find commonality in this, and be supportive of him, and I hope he toward you.

    Blubber in school if you need to. I grieved a cat I had to put down 18 months ago for a long time. The bigger our hearts, the greater the loss when we lose a pet.

    • Gemma says:

      Thank you. I’m sorry to hear about your cat. And I agree.

      I’m not sure if my brother has anxiety but I don’t think his mental health is great. As well as restricting his diet, he also doesn’t leave his room except to eat, go to school or football, or go out with his friends. He’s also often late for school, or skips school because he says he feels unwell. I’m not sure if my mum has sat him down and talked to him about any of this yet. I want to find out what’s wrong and support him in any way I can but it’s very difficult to get him to talk about what’s on his mind. He doesn’t really share anything about his life with the rest of the family. I’ll see how he is this weekend.

  4. The Blonette says:

    I’m sorry about your dog, I haven’t had a pet dog that was just mine since my old childhood dog had to be put down-I tend to just help out with the family dog, it’s easier that way. I hate crying in front of family (or anyone actually) so I sympathise with looking uncaring whilst dying inside 😦 I hope your brother gets better soon.

    • Gemma says:

      Thank you. I did end up crying in front of my mum a couple of times, which I was a little bit embarrassed about. I don’t really know why I find crying in front of others so difficult/ anxiety-provoking.

  5. fellowsocphob says:

    Hey Gemma, I just started reading your blogs today when I googled social anxiety and blogs. I have posted before and I will post again, you seem to be able to write down your thoughts and feelings so well.
    I am very sorry to hear of your dog, the unconditional love they give us can not be underestimated and its not weird to grieve the way u have.
    I hope your brother is doing well, perhaps if he just knows you are there if he ever needs you might be enough?
    I do wish you well with Uni, its one of the hardest times.

    • Gemma says:

      Hi, fellowscophob. Thank you for all your comments. I’m sorry that it has taken me so long to get back to you.

      My brother seems to be doing fine now. I don’t think he has an eating disorder after all; I think he’s just on a health kick and took things too far on that occasion. He seems to be eating enough now. I find it quite difficult to talk to him sometimes because trying to have a conversation with him is like trying to get blood from a stone. I’m hoping that it’s just the age he’s at and not because anything serious is going on.

      Thank you.

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