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Mental Illness and Pet Keeping

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Mental Illness and Pet Keeping

Post by chiroptera on Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:08 am

I was thinking about this the other night, but I was too tired to type it up at the time... but it's still on my mind, I guess because it's hard for mental illness to ever not be on my mind. (Y'know, since it's literally in my mind?) Horrible puns aside, it's amazing how much the existence of animals can bring me back from the brink...

The night that I originally wanted to write this up, I was in a bad bout of depression/anxiety... I mean, I always have depression and anxiety but it has good days and bad days, and it was pretty bad. I couldn't get myself to make myself food. I didn't want to eat, I felt like I didn't deserve to, I felt too stupid to make food, I just didn't feel like getting up, a whole host of horrible buzzing that made me do nothing towards taking care of myself appropriately.

It's like this a lot, honestly. I'm clinically depressed, have general and social anxiety, and I'm on the autism spectrum (which includes: enhanced anxiety, sensory overload, difficulty with processing things, among others) and it's hard for me to function a lot of the time because of it. I'm panromantic (a member of the lgbt+ community) and struggle sometimes with identity and emotions regarding such. On top of that, my home/family life is a giant mess, it's always been a giant mess, and the past little-over-a-year has been absolute hell; a tipping point in my life that resulted in an accidental move across the country, from Pennsylvania to Texas, because the other option was decidedly... more permanent.

I'm trying to improve myself, become more independent, feel better about myself, but sometimes it's hard. Sometimes a triumph is trying something new, going out and being social, working on something I've been putting off- and other times a triumph is getting out of bed or turning a light on... or getting something to eat.

Anyway, a few nights ago was one of those hard nights, where my brain was going AWOL and everything seemed Bad and hard. But not my girls. I had their tub sitting next to me on the couch, and I was just watching them while on my phone for hours- like literally that was all I'd done, didn't move, didn't eat, nothing. My roommates told me to eat, but ultimately they went to bed, so there was no one to police me. I didn't want to eat.

But I was watching my mice, I had one or all of them on my shoulders running around, being cute... and I remembered that they need me to survive. They depend on me. The tiny, precious little bundles of joy that make me so happy just by being there... they need me.

And even if they didn't need me, the fact that they exist is just very reassuring... the smallest of reminders that there is good left in the world. Even when it feels like the world is stacked against you, your own brain is stacked against you... looking into the tiny eyes of the small critter that against-all-odds cuddles right up in the crook of the neck of what should be their predator, considers that predator friend-and-family... it's a little bit harder to want to leave a world with that in it.

Of course, the other side of the coin with mental health and keeping pets is that mental illness makes actually taking care of your pets properly an additional challenge. Something that should be simple like cleaning out the cage or remembering to give your animal their medicine or refilling water becomes a challenge... and it sucks. But it also helps to make me do something, too... If I don't take a shower, than I feel gross, but that's not a motivator when I already feel gross mentally. If I don't clean the mouse bin, my mice are forced to live in it... which isn't fair to them. But once I'm out of bed to clean the tub or refill their water, I may-as-well eat something, or pick up some laundry that was on the floor, or get the mail (and some fresh air).

I don't know what the point of all this was, other than a bit of a vent I guess. But the other night, while I was watching my girls... I poured myself a bowl of cereal. It wasn't much, but I didn't go to sleep hungry. So, that's something, right?


Feel free to vent/voice your experiences here in this thread! alternately, feel free to ignore this altogether I just wanted to get this out.

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Re: Mental Illness and Pet Keeping

Post by Rodents rock! on Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:49 am

Hi, I'm sorry for all you are dealing with. I do understand though as I suffer from depression and anxiety too. In fact I take two different medications which really help a lot. But I will say, my pets help to keep me going.

If you don't mind my asking, are you on any meds for your depression and anxiety?

I will tell you, the meds have helped me immensely.

(((Hugs)))
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Re: Mental Illness and Pet Keeping

Post by chiroptera on Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:02 am

@Rodents rock! wrote:Hi, I'm sorry for all you are dealing with. I do understand though as I suffer from depression and anxiety too. In fact I take two different medications which really help a lot. But I will say, my pets help to keep me going.

If you don't mind my asking, are you on any meds for your depression and anxiety?

I will tell you, the meds have helped me immensely.

(((Hugs)))

Thank you for the hugs! <3

And I am! I'm definitely better with them than without. I need to start seeing a doctor regularly again though, I haven't been on top of that since I moved. Worry

But it really is incredible how much something as simple as watching little mice scurrying around can lighten someone up! I don't know how people who don't love animals get by, honestly

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Re: Mental Illness and Pet Keeping

Post by Rodents rock! on Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:10 am

@chiroptera wrote:
@Rodents rock! wrote:Hi, I'm sorry for all you are dealing with. I do understand though as I suffer from depression and anxiety too. In fact I take two different medications which really help a lot. But I will say, my pets help to keep me going.

If you don't mind my asking, are you on any meds for your depression and anxiety?

I will tell you, the meds have helped me immensely.

(((Hugs)))

Thank you for the hugs! <3

And I am! I'm definitely better with them than without. I need to start seeing a doctor regularly again though, I haven't been on top of that since I moved. Worry

But it really is incredible how much something as simple as watching little mice scurrying around can lighten someone up! I don't know how people who don't love animals get by, honestly

I know what you mean, my animals make me smile everyday Very Happy
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Re: Mental Illness and Pet Keeping

Post by jay.mayhem on Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:12 am

Aww, I'm sorry you deal with so much. I personally suffer a lot of the same issues and I really hope you start to feel on the up and up again soon. I really relate to what you're saying, though. At my lowest point, my only saving grace was the thought that if I left, my cat wouldn't know where I went and why I left her. I also see the flip side; I went several weeks without cleaning my chins' cage and I felt horrible about it. It's a double-edged sword, but it's worth the risk. Pets are the best.
I hope you start to see some improvement soon. You're doing really well already <3

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Re: Mental Illness and Pet Keeping

Post by Darkly_Innocent on Sun Dec 03, 2017 7:31 am

@chiroptera wrote:But I was watching my mice, I had one or all of them on my shoulders running around, being cute... and I remembered that they need me to survive. They depend on me. The tiny, precious little bundles of joy that make me so happy just by being there... they need me.

And even if they didn't need me, the fact that they exist is just very reassuring... the smallest of reminders that there is good left in the world. Even when it feels like the world is stacked against you, your own brain is stacked against you... looking into the tiny eyes of the small critter that against-all-odds cuddles right up in the crook of the neck of what should be their predator, considers that predator friend-and-family... it's a little bit harder to want to leave a world with that in it.

That was so beautifully put and I can totally relate to it as I also suffer from depression and severe social anxiety. Every day is a struggle but having my pets help me so much for the exact reasons you said above. I've never been able to put it into words, but you did, so thank you. Hug

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Re: Mental Illness and Pet Keeping

Post by River on Sun Dec 03, 2017 10:29 am

I relate a lot. I suffer from C-PTSD, which gives symptoms of major depression, anxiety, and OCD. I used to struggle with internalized homophobia too, as a gay man myself.

Pets are hard sometimes but they help me have a purpose. If I don't want to get up, I have to. They need me here -- which is motivation enough to find it in me to take care of myself.

Have you considered getting a pet to be prescribed as an emotional support animal? Any pet can fill the role. Once my bird is harness trained and can go out in public, we plan to have her prescribed to make it easier for me to leave the house and handle loud environments.
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Re: Mental Illness and Pet Keeping

Post by CallaLily on Sun Dec 03, 2017 10:54 am

Just wanted to send Group Hug I can relate.

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Re: Mental Illness and Pet Keeping

Post by scaredymouse on Mon Dec 04, 2017 2:33 pm

I think a lot of us can relate. One of the things that never fails to keep me going is the fact that all these little critters depend on me. And they bring so much joy into my life. I can always count on them for that.

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Re: Mental Illness and Pet Keeping

Post by Blessed on Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:05 am

I'm sorry you guys are going through/feeling that. I hope you all feel better.
I sincerely hope ... that those feelings will leave you all forever; and that you will be at rest, filled with peace, and joy will live on instead.
My prayers are with you. Red Heart
Love,
Blessed


Last edited by Blessed on Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:24 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Mental Illness and Pet Keeping

Post by chiroptera on Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:54 am

@Darkly_Innocent wrote:
@chiroptera wrote:But I was watching my mice, I had one or all of them on my shoulders running around, being cute... and I remembered that they need me to survive. They depend on me. The tiny, precious little bundles of joy that make me so happy just by being there... they need me.

And even if they didn't need me, the fact that they exist is just very reassuring... the smallest of reminders that there is good left in the world. Even when it feels like the world is stacked against you, your own brain is stacked against you... looking into the tiny eyes of the small critter that against-all-odds cuddles right up in the crook of the neck of what should be their predator, considers that predator friend-and-family... it's a little bit harder to want to leave a world with that in it.

That was so beautifully put and I can totally relate to it as I also suffer from depression and severe social anxiety. Every day is a struggle but having my pets help me so much for the exact reasons you said above. I've never been able to put it into words, but you did, so thank you. Hug  

Thank you! I'm glad you liked me waxing poetic. I'm trying to be a writer so it's pretty cool when I actually strike a note with someone. Wink

@River wrote:I relate a lot. I suffer from C-PTSD, which gives symptoms of major depression, anxiety, and OCD. I used to struggle with internalized homophobia too, as a gay man myself.

Pets are hard sometimes but they help me have a purpose. If I don't want to get up, I have to. They need me here -- which is motivation enough to find it in me to take care of myself.

Have you considered getting a pet to be prescribed as an emotional support animal? Any pet can fill the role. Once my bird is harness trained and can go out in public, we plan to have her prescribed to make it easier for me to leave the house and handle loud environments.

[gay high five from across the room]

I'm actually hoping to get a service dog to help me with some of my autism symptoms (mainly sensory overload and panic attacks), though it really is a process; I need to figure out my living arrangements and such, and figure out how to afford and train a dog... so it'll probably be a bit.

I wouldn't want to take the girls out with me too often, I feel like it would stress them out too much. Though I may talk to a therapist about making them my ESA's anyway, in case I move somewhere that otherwise would try to make me get rid of them.


and thank you, everyone, for your well-wishes and words of encouragement! Love

@Rodents_rock! @CallaLily @jay.mayhem @scaredymouse @Blesed

although it's a shame that a lot of you all feel similarly (because it really, really sucks, and I know it) it's also comforting to know that no one of us is alone, and that we can relate. I'm here if anyone needs it, and also feel free to vent on this thread if you'd like! It doesn't have to be directly related to my original post, if you just want to vent into the void or something feel free to plop it here.

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