A year ago, at the end of last May, Ruby Skittles bounded into our lives. We knew very little about her, being a rescue dog from Birmingham Dogs' Home.
This was a big gamble. I nor my kids had ever lived with a dog, nor did we know much about Ruby Skittles' history other than she was a stray.
A year on we have had some adventures, involving escapades, chasing other animals including catching a goose (I rescued it in time), trying to 'play' with bullocks and generally chewing her way through a number of household items including the remote control. There have been some highs and lows, but I certainly wouldn't be without her.
As I did my second dog walk today in the verdant, blossoming park behind my house, it occurred to me that there were some similarities with my illness.
It's 26 years ago when my first bout of depression hit. It was unknown, unrecognised and scary and resulted in hospitalisation. As I have grown, I have learnt to recognise, know and accept it.
I still have that forbidding feeling when I know another bout is going to descend... but I also know it's nature. I know that it's unwanted but also I know I will survive and get through. I have found ways of living with it, drugs, exercise, sleep and positive thinking, just as Ruby Skittles needed routine, food, exercise, love and a lot of patience.
I don't want to stretch the black dog analogy too much. Whereas Ruby's presence is generally positive, living with depression has presented multiple challenges and has been really painful.
It was a brave decision to take on Ruby and a brave decision to face my illness head on with the full enormity of it staring me in the face.
I wish for all Moodscopers today courage, strength and humour... now there must be time for a joke from Hopeful One!!
A Moodscope member.