First let me be clear- an emotional support animal is not the same as a Service animal.
I can’t bring my cat anywhere I want (as much as I want to) 😏 She’s literally there to greet me when I get home, because it’s kind of nice to have someone greet you when you get home right?
And then some days it’s a lot more than her just greeting me when I get home.
I guess I can start from the beginning.
I have Anxiety and Depression. I was diagnosed earlier this year (2018) which was far too long to wait.
I had started getting symptoms when I was about 14-15. Obviously I didn’t realize they were symptoms at the time. I was a pretty upbeat, happy girl- albeit very shy. But that never stopped me from feeling happy pretty much all the time. On top of that, I had met my now husband, and we were very happy getting to know each other.
I still don’t know how he managed to stay sane through my transition.
He also always knew me as an upbeat, happy girl. So when it started to change, I think he was starting to get a little concerned- and rightly so.
It was a very scary time in my life, because all I could tell people when I wasn’t feeling happy was “I don’t know why.” It was even worse if I was out with my family, and they would tell me to get out of my funk, because I’m putting everyone else in a bad mood. I couldn’t help it.
Whereas before, I felt like I always had a reason why I was in a bad mood, or feeling down. So now here I am, not understanding my own emotions.
It wasn’t until I was about 18 when I started realizing it wasn’t just a teenage phase. Something was not right, and this time I was going to figure out what it was.
Stuff started going on in my life around this time that made it worse.
My boyfriend-now husband- had just left to serve his mission., for one.
And don’t get me wrong, life was pretty good for the most part. Obviously I was sad that he was gone, but I had decided to get my life together while he was gone. I was going to figure myself out.
I got a car, I moved out, got a new job. Everything was pretty great. And yet, I still felt like something was missing. I could probably blame it on just missing my sweetheart, or not getting enough sleep, maybe I was just “hangry”. And for a while, I did. I started saying, “I’m just tired.” And then it started turning into, “I’m just lonely.”
I was lucky to have sisters who realized what was wrong before I even did. I have 6 sisters, and each of them have some form of anxiety, or depression. They helped me realize I wasn’t going crazy, and pointed out the signs that I didn’t really care to notice.
But still, I didn’t do anything about it. I told myself I would probably just feel better if I tried. Or maybe I would be happier once my boyfriend got home.
Of course it wasn’t that simple, but I refused to help myself. My boyfriend also stepped in and told me to get some help if I could. And I knew he was right, but I couldn’t talk myself into going to a doctor, let alone by myself! Helloooo- introverted…
So I told myself I would just do it when he got home. I wish I had done it sooner, but I’m glad I still did it eventually.
It’s a tough topic to talk about, because not everyone is going to take it seriously.
We were blessed with a cool apartment, for newlyweds. We were able to bring them a paper stating that an emotional support animal would benefit me, and they were totally cool and understanding. (I’m sure they kind of had to be because it’s a doctors note, but…)
And along came Biscuit!
It was such good timing that we got her. A friend had posted about her on Facebook, saying she was found abandoned on the side of a dirt road next to a prison… Her uncle had found her while he was working in that area.
I showed the picture to my husband, and we both just knew we had to meet her.
She was two months old, and such a sweetheart. Scared at first, but she sat in our laps while we got to know her, and she was super calm.
It took her a bit to warm up to us once we brought her home- which is normal. But only after about 2 days, she stopped hiding under the bed and just wanted to be wherever we were.
And then she started learning her support duties.
We didn’t teach her of course. Because when I was having an especially tough day, I would just cuddle her and pet her.
But she learned her job well.
At first it was silly things. Like, if me and my husband were playing a video game, I would freak out and she’d come over to make sure I was okay.
And then it turned into bigger things.
I would wake up from a nightmare, going into a panic. Breathing heavy and all that fun stuff, and she’d make her way up to my face and start being all cutsie- rubbing her face on mine. Which totally helped by the way.
I really don’t bring up the fact that she’s my emotional support animal. Because she’s still my fur baby, she just has other abilities that help me emotionally.
People wouldn’t normally understand why I would need something like that. Especially if I don’t take her everywhere with me, then I really don’t need her, right?
Don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad for doing something that helps you!
It was beneficial for me to have her, because that’s what I felt like I needed. I also needed anti-depressants. And that’s okay too. That was the part I dreaded most.
Things work differently for everyone. For some, an animal isn’t as beneficial. But for me, I felt like I really needed that kind of companionship. Which sounds terrible, because I have a husband. And don’t get me wrong, he makes me feel better. But with me working mornings and him working nights, I love that I can still come home and be welcomed and have that companionship there.
Don’t be afraid to help yourself. Trust me, in the long run, it sucks more not to help yourself than to just deal with the moment of embarrassment of going and talking to someone. Find what works for you. Go to sleep at a reasonable time-if you can. Go on a hike. Go get a pet! And I know when you’re depressed the last thing you want to do is get up and exercise or go on a hike, but sometimes you just have to make yourself do it. It doesn’t sound pleasing at first, but once you’re out there, it’s hard to want to go back home.
If that’s what you’re into anyway. Again, everyone has differences. Find what works. Don’t be afraid- as hard as that sounds sometimes.
I know this was supposed to be about my cat and it turned into so much more than that 😁 But hey, that’s okay!
“What consumes your mind, consumes your life.”