I’m often asked how I made it through my twenty years as a woman with bipolar disorder 1. One reason is pet therapy.
Growing up, my brother and I constantly bugged my parents for a dog. My dad loved dogs. My mom, not so much! Then when I was 12, she caved in. We got Cookie, an anti-social Basenji. I loved her immediately despite her peculiar personality. She growled at my high school dates! Maybe I should have let her be the judge of who I went out with.
At eighteen I had my first manic high on a cruise ship. When I returned home, I began taking lithium to stop the high. Friends and family took care of me around the clock, but it was Cookie who stood loyally by my side. I did not have to put on a brave face for her. She knew my sadness and the toll the drug took on me. She was always just a pet away. I found great comfort having her around.
When we moved to Iowa, she became sick and died peacefully. I was crushed. My father had to take a day off work when she passed away because he was so sad. We knew we needed more fur babies.
After a ton of research, our family got two Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers because they were supposed to have a great temperament.
We named the puppies Precious and Hunny. They were adorable as well as a big handful.
At the time I had moved back into the house to finish up college at Drake University. Those years were hell at times. The college stress set off my moods. Sometimes I was Jekyll, sometimes Hyde. I wanted to quit college. I just did not want to keep going anymore writing papers and doing the studying it took to pass classes. One day I rolled around on the floor fetal position, endless tears filled my eyes. I was at my breaking point. The realities of life were more then I could handle. I was defeated.
The next thing I knew I was being tackled by the dogs and licked to death. I had just come from therapy but it seemed that the dogs were even more effective. They made me realize that I needed to get back up, brush myself off and keep fighting. That is exactly what I did and ended up graduating with my BA in Sociology. The day of graduation I made sure to have my picture taken with them.
Dog spelled backwards is God and I believe that is not coincidental.
Years later I married. We had decided on no children and needed a fur baby. We had only a balcony for a backyard so decided to get a cat, a Siberian cat. Angel-Ann is our snow-white, blue tipped diva with a grey mask. She has the most beautiful baby blue eyes. She is a piece of work to say the least.
I have been stable for sixteen miraculous years except for 2 weeks. I had injured my back and my mom had “shared “some of her pain meds with me until I could see a doctor. What I did not realize was that drug was an antidepressant. Combined with all my other meds it sent me into the nightmare of a mixed episode.
I cried hard every night for no reason. Angel-Ann crept around the corner making sure I was ok. My husband watched T V not knowing what was really happening to me, but the cat was my moral support! Thankfully the episode ended quickly.
My pets have taught me to keep up the fight. They have often times given me moral support and a reason to keep going. If you are dealing with depression, bipolar, and anxiety, buy a pet or find one to spend time with. For me the unconditional love I received from my fur babies made all the difference. I can’t imagine my life without them. I am a believer that pets really are a secret weapon when it comes to battling bipolar.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community