Pet companions & their benefits

After I left treatment I couldn’t hold down a steady job. I tried a couple of times. I hadn’t finished my credential program so teaching was out. I decided to apply to some helping positions. I was immediately hired because of my past experience as a CNA and home therapy worker. I tried my best and showed up at the first session but after the client cancelled several appointments I was so distraught I couldn’t handle the anxiety. I feared going to meet the client, I could not even walk out to my car. After the wave of anxiety came the depression. I laid in bed and didn’t move, didn’t eat, didn’t talk. I was not being asked to solve world peace at this job, but I could not gather myself to even make it to the car to get there. This was a new experience for me considering before my suicide attempt I worked multiple jobs and as much overtime as possible. I continued to apply to every job I saw, from teacher’s aide to Target to McDonald’s. No one wanted me. Part of it was relieving. I didn’t want to be stuck in a cycle of heightened anxiety and depression each day. I already deal with it no need to layer it on. The other part of me felt like a failure and completely worthless. There is nothing like being told no on a continuous loop. No. No. No. No. I had to let my spirituality take front row center at this point. I gave it away because I certainly didn’t have any control over this situation. I was doing my part. Applying to jobs, going to therapy and trying to receive disability benefits. I figured if I threw all my hats in the ring one of them had to work and only a force greater than me was going to decide which. My spirituality isn’t the point of this blog it does however play a part. I believe God has guided me through life thus far. I have made decisions that were not the best and fought against the truth but what God wants for me ultimately prevailed including my diagnosis and treatment. I held on to my faith that He would guide me through this time. I felt like a failure. I was unable to provide for myself anymore, I was no longer a functioning adult. I tried desperately to get a job knowing full well that I may not be able to keep it. And lest I remind you that my disability battle is still ongoing.

One day my sister told me a coworker needed some help with his dogs in the evening. She had been helping but her work schedule wasn’t allowing for her to always be there. Would I be interested? Duh! At that point it wasn’t about money it was leaving the house, having a purpose in life. It would only be a couple of days a week for a few hours and I would feed the three dogs and spend time with them. I could do that. I was scared but I could do that. I still do that. Sometimes I cIMG_0856ome for more days and more hours. No matter what the dogs are always there for me. They are happy to see me. They need me. I have reasons to fight through my depression on especially bad days. It has been increasingly recognized that pets provide a therapeutic function for those with mental health concerns. Research indicates a connectivity people feel with their companion animals and the many ways in which pets contribute to work associated with managing a mental health condition, particularly in times of crisis. I have continued to take care of a couple of other dogs on a less frequent basis and have even started walking a dog.

Pee, one of the original three that I take care of, is particularly special to me. He is the old man of the bunch and I was told he didn’t warm up to people quickly. But he saw something in me and is often lying IMG_1117next to me or at my feet digging at me to be petted more. Coco, the cover girl, is another skittish girl that became a sweetheart in a matter of hours. I stay at her house with her and her brother when her owners are out of town. She will lay her chin on my knee or lick my nose if I am just not listening and it calms my heart. And that leaves me with Logan. He is a true goofball prince. There was no difficulty finding a picture of him because he is constantly posing. But he is not without his quirks. If he is tired on the walk he just lays down or if he wants something he looks directly at you and cries until you give it to him.

Dogsitting and dogwalking has become a part of my life. The dogs are elements of my happiness. I know their quirks and am thankful for their existence. They are never mad at me. They don’t judge me for not being able to get a job or for being bipolar. They understand when I want to lay on the couch and snuggle. My problems are not solved, and my diagnosis hasn’t changed but I have a bunch of little someones to help me get through it.