ver the years, animals have been under estimated by their capacities to help mental illnesses. Rather, we turned our heads towards the alternative that medication can cure anything. Society
has portrayed this mechanism as being flawless and at everyone's disponibility .In fact, this mechanism is not relative to many patients. We are all different and we all seek diverse
treatment. Without motivation and other influential factors as social and emotional interactions, medication is not of much help to 3/4 of the population. We rely on these methods and once we are
faced with failure, we give up on ourselves and our issues. If medication does not work, then what does? Many other alternative may be suggested and animal therapy is one of them. Animal therapy
creates a magical interaction between an individual and an animal. The connection helps improve many aspects of which may be of concern in mental issues such as social, emotional and physical
interaction. Between this individual and their pet, there is an enormous bond of trust and fidelity and leads to more confidence to face the world and their own potential struggles. Mental illness
is a serious issue that needs to be treated with care and attention rather than dismissing it. This is my story and how animal therapy helped me towards the right direction.
My mental illness was like no other. Previously, I suffered of depression but with some help, I was able to overcome it quite easy. This time, it was not the same. I had started to hear voices in my head, they were telling me how to think, what to do and most of all, that I was definitely not worth anyone's help. I had no reason to be alive, no reason to have hope and that I would never be loved. I started to believe such things. Every day was a constant struggle and without effective treatment, it became worst. I had begun to see these individuals and they were following me everywhere I went. I had to go the bathroom, they were sitting right next to me. I wanted to watch television, they were blocking my view. I wanted to go to bed, there was no such thing. My anxiety rose and it became intolerable and I had to be admitted to the hospital for several weeks before I began a treatment that would help me tolerate these frightening individuals. The hospital is certainly a horrifying place. You acknowledge situations you never thought possible, you see diverse problems and witness scenarios that will never disappear from your conscience.
None of the less, I made friends and couldn't be more grateful that my parents and close friends were there to lend a hand in this moment of difficulty. I tried several medication , some of which had nasty side effects and of which some did not do anything. I did not think that a medication could cure me until I was introduced to Risperdol. This medication had immediate effect and the following day I felt like I could fly, that I could accomplish anything. That day , I even went out to Pizza Hut with my mother for a complete hour. I was determined that I could do it, that I could survive this. A few days later, I was released upon one condition. I had to obtain animal therapy.
Animal therapy was a great way for me to get a hold of my emotions and to help myself when I was alone. I would indeed never be alone again and that was an unimaginable thought for me, it was extraordinary. "Which animal was I going to get?" I thought to myself. A bird? A ferret? It never cross my mind, that that night I would be bringing a brand new cat home. His name is Finnigan.
We brought him home and he made his way through our living room, our kitchen like he had been living here for years. He was running around, investigating with his pink nose his new environment and enjoying every minute of attention I gave to him. He wasn't scared of us at all, in fact he wanted to be petted and play with strings and mice. Nothing more complicated than that. That day I made a lot of realisations, I had given a brand new life to this animal and I could follow his lead. He could guide me through my moments of pain and of deep struggle and that I could start over. That day among all the others made me smile and gave me hope that I could indeed overcome my mental illness.
That night, he slept at my feet in my double bed and I had no trouble falling asleep. The next morning, I woke up to a rough texture on my eyebrow. I opened one eye and then another , to see a big joyful cat staring at me and shouting a small '' meow ''. That was the beginning of our amazing relationship.
What was special about Finnigan is that he had a sixth sense. Let me explain. I had great difficulty to be left alone in those moments , the voices in my head were much stronger. Finnigan knew that, he knew that if I was alone, that he needed to be near. Finnigan knew exactly when I was not feeling well and when I was. He was my own personal psychologist.
One night, I was struggling immensely and I was thinking that this was the end. I did not have the strength to get help from my mother on the other side of the room, besides to me there was no other alternative. An overdose was the solution. I leaned over and once I was about to pick up those pills, Finnigan jumped on the desk and spilled the pills in the toilet. He then jumped on my lap and stayed there for an hour before I went back to bed. That night, Finnigan saved my life.
He has been in my family for approximately one year and a half now and I could not have done it without him.Every night, he cuddles at my feet and gives me one final lick before I head to bed. Even if my mental illness is no longer visible, Finnigan is always there when I am sick, upset or in tears. I realized that I could be whoever I wanted to be and that I was not limited because of my mental illness. I begun an irreplaceable friendship and could not be more grateful for all the life experiences I have obtained from it. He gave me things to accomplish when I needed a motive, he gave me company when I felt alone and most of all, kept me safe in sound against frightening events. He is my best friend and he always will be
To all parents out there, believe in animal therapy. In most cases, these animals may seem insignificant but indeed, some of them may save your child's life. This cat of mine saved my life, he is my best friend and till this day knows what to do when I am not feeling well. He gave me back my own identity and with my family's help, I fully recovered from that episode. Mental illnesses, autism and physical trauma benefit greatly from another companion either is for emotional support, to create interactions or to have a sense of responsibility. They become part of your family and one of your best friends. The bond we share with them is inestimable and helps us to rebuild our lives with someone that understands us and will always be by our sides. Whether if it is a dog, a cat, a rabbit, animal therapy combined with other treatments leads to a better chance of recovery and a chance to lead the life you wanted to live.
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