I love my dog soooo much!! Hannah, I adopted her from another college student who was moving away. A border collie mix black lab – a borador!. Forty-five pounds, not too big, and not too small.
She basically saved my life when I was living in Indiana. She would cuddle up with me when I was sad, and she knew when I was sad. I didn’t have to call her over, she could just see me sitting on my couch, or curled up on the futon, and she could come wag her tail in my face, or slowly climb her two front paws up next to me, or simply jump up next to me – pushing her whole weight against mine. If I was crying, she was immediately there, no time wasted.
I did attempt suicide, a lot. I also didn’t attempt suicide a lot – because of her. I didn’t want to leave her. I didn’t trust anyone to take her. I didn’t want the police to come hall her off to the pound. Every time I met with my case manager I begged her, if something happens to me, you have to promise me that you will make my mom take her home (my mom lived in another state). My case manager refused to promise, cause of course she didn’t want me to kill myself.
She kept me active. We went to the parks in the area. We played in the snow. I had to get up, I had to take her out. She gave me a reason to be alive. I slept all day for the most part for a long time. There were some days I felt really bad that she lived with me. She didn’t get to do much but lie on the couch with me. I really think she understood though. She was a breed of dog that needed lots of exercise, but she was also a breed of dog that was smart – and I think she knew how bad I felt.
I don’t have Hannah anymore. She is living with my mom. When I was in the state hospital, I obviously couldn’t bring her with me, so my mom did take her. And she is happy there, she has a big yard and another black lab to play with. So I let her stay while I moved to Florida. I get to visit her though when I visit Texas. She remembers me of course, and whines and cries when she sees me. I cry a bit when I see her too cause I miss her so much. I wish I had her here sometimes because she helped me so much with my mental health, and one day I think I will get another dog, but I feel like if I get another one right now, I would be “cheating” on Hannah 😉
Animals can help our mental health so much. In fact according to WebMD, they can help in the following ways:
- They can provide unconditional love. No matter how much we might get upset at them, they always love us. Many times, when we have mental illness, our relationships with others can be complicated. With animals though, our relationships are simple. You can talk to them, you can love them, you don’t have to worry about hurting their feelings, you can just tell them how you feel and it is ok to feel the way you feel.
- Having a pet gives you some responsibility. Having some responsibility in your life makes you feel like you have value. You are helping to care for someone/something else.
- You are being active! When you are depressed, doing anything is a chore and you are rarely motivated to do anything. Having a pet can really add to that motivation. You have to take them out and play with them. They keep you active and it is fun.
- You get a routine, which is essential to one’s mental health. You have to get up to feed your pet, take your out to the bathroom, play with it, or whatever daily tasks it might need.
- You have a companion. You aren’t alone. You have someone else to talk to. So what if it is a dog or a cat? Or a hamster or guinea pig? They listen. You are never alone!
- Some research even shows that having a pet (dogs specifically) lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, and increased the level of the feel-good hormones in the brain.