BeHereNow

Caring for animals

9 posts in this topic

Just got back from visiting with an old friend and learned something that might or might not be helpful to some people here.

In the past my friend suffered from extreme depression, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, substance abuse (including adderall, which I'm pretty sure he still uses) and he also used to have suicidal thoughts (even on the adderall.) About a year ago, I almost called the cops because he kept talking about wanting to die. He was extremely moody, filled with rage and sadness, and had isolated himself from the whole world, including friends and family.

I am now proud to say that my friend is doing much, much better. He still uses some substances, which hopefully he will decide to quit eventually. Hopefully he takes antidepressants (I didn't ask), but he seems calm and stable overall which is a VERY good thing. It's like his old personality is slowly coming back.

What's changed? He didn't do an inpatient program, he didn't change locations, he didn't get a new job or anything. One thing that HAS changed is that he is now fostering dogs from the local homeless shelter, and he really loves it. He puts an incredible amount of time, energy, love, and effort into caring for these dogs and making sure they are healthy and safe. He now also has a pet turtle (away from the dogs!), and he told me a story about how he recently rescued a bird that had been hit by a car.

It's a touchy subject, but I couldn't help but wonder if caring for animals is helping him somewhat with his depression. Obviously it can't be the only factor, but it seems to be helping. He's still using substances and he's not 100% himself yet, but he is much calmer, more stable, and although he still doesn't smile much, he doesn't seem to be in the depths of agonizing misery the way he used to be.

This also makes me wonder if my cat might be helping my adderall recovery too. My cat always consoles me on PAWS days, and caring for her helps, especially since she was rescued from the streets.

Anyway, I looked it up on the internet and found there is a correlation. Pretty interesting article:

http://psychcentral....eve-depression/

I'm sure it's not for everyone (and I know a lot of people here have kids, which I can't even imagine that kind of responsibility!) but it seems that for some people, who are ready for it, this might help. At least, I'm sure it's been theraputic for me, and although I might be wrong, I'm pretty sure it helps my friend too.

Thoughts?

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Occasional,

I think you are on to something big here! I miss my cat SOOOOOOOOOOOO much. She kept peeing in my apt after I'd tried everything to keep her. Anyhow, YES I totally agree. Do you have animals?

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I also totally agree. I have spent a lot of time with the dog of my neighbor I used to live by, and it brought so much happiness to me. It's a King Charles cavalier (kind of irrelevant), but it's a great breed. I will be getting one as soon as I can have a pet at my place. Excellent point you brought up here. I know we have pet lovers on this site. I believe Cassie fosters dogs, and I know quit once has a dog he does everything with. Would be interested in their input too! Going through early recovery I would just sleep with the dog by my side, and it brought a sense of peace.

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The positive affect on health from having pets is well-documented. Just petting an animal lowers your blood pressure and or heart rate by at least ten clicks. MFA said that petting an animal realease the feel good hormone oxytocin in people and in the pet being petted. The responsibility is a good thing because it helps you to focus on other things besides your own recovery issues. It gives one a sense of purpose and importance to be responsible for the life of another being. When my mom died of old age she was survived by her pet cat and pet tortoise of 45 years. Pets add quality to your life. I am kinda funny about animals being in their place - like I do not let my dog onto the funiture or lick me on the mouth and I am a one pet person. My dog shares almost all of my non-working life with me. My dog was still kind of a puppy when I quit adderall so it took extra patience not to get angry with her for just doing puppy things, but the support and companionship I got from my dog during early recovery was essential for my sanity, happiness and well-being.

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Reviving this topic- I recently moved on my own very far away from my family and friends. I can only go home around the holidays. I've grown up so much, but it's also been very lonely, so I adopted a shelter dog. It's a lot of work, but having him also really opened my eyes to some of my issues. I was always too busy to walk him or take him out while on Adderall. Gross. It's been hard lately with the laziness I feel while recovering, but I am slowly starting to take better care of him. I love coming home to his little face after hard, long workdays. It's been good for me to be responsible for something other than myself!

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