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Readers Respond: Do your pets provide "therapy" for your bipolar disorder?

Responses: 23

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Updated August 07, 2011

From the article: The Cats Who Saved My Life
Whether you have one pet or several, whether it's a cat, a dog, a bird, a fish tank, a gerbil or something else, pets can have a huge effect on your life when you have a mental illness. This is your opportunity to tell about your own experience with animals who provide "pet therapy" for you. NOTE: Questions or responses to others will not be published. This is your space to tell your own experience. Share Your Story

One Day soon I hope!

When I was a teen I was diagnosed as Depressed with a Borderline Personality Disorder. My therapist at the time told me I should get a dog, which I did. I adopted a wonderful dog from the shelter and he did wonders for me. Really brought me out of my shell, gave me a reason to get up in the morning and also got me out the house. Unfortunately he passed on. Now 15 years later, I have just been reassessed and it's been found that I am in fact bipolar with PTSD. I feel frustrated that all those years I was on the wrong medication. How different would my life had been? There are many days when I just can't get myself out of bed and face the world. I am not currently in a position to be able to take on a dog again, but I'm working towards it and I look forward to the comfort, companionship, love and encouragement that a dog brings. It honestly is the best therapy and I can't recommend it enough.
—onedaygirl

Bipolar with a New Service Dog

I'm almost done with the CGC portion and started a shaping class for the task portion. We've been doing the public access since the beginning. He comes with me everywhere. I'm bipolar 1 with ultra rapid cycling, the ups and downs are so hard to deal with. My dog helps the most because he is always there. He is a very small dog so he can cuddle on my lap or hold onto him when I really need a hug. He also helps me get out of bed in the morning. Some people would say why do you need him for that. When I am in a depression I am so sad it's hard to get our of bed. Anyone who has had depression knows this feeling. There is a certain noise for the morning alarm, and he bothers me until I'm up and can take my medicine. If I do not take one of my medication I will go back to sleep. The phone I use for the morning also has alarms for the rest of the day with a different sound for the medication. And he alerts me when the alarm goes on. He is a small dog with the biggest heart and loves me.
—Guest Register

Whitey my Superman dog

I am diagnosed as having a bipolar disorder 7 years ago. It gives me a lot of difficulties in my life. It breaks the habit of being a normal person. I find it very hard to sleep until I was advised to see a psychiatrist. I am at state of delusion at that time and a massive state of sleeplessness. I began daydreaming and thought myself as the richest person on Earth. Until such time that the medication goes well I am getting a nice sleep and a nice diet. Until such time that my father gave a native dog. I name him Whity because of its very white hair. It gives me leisure and fun especially when I'm feeding him and take him to a bath. It made my time balanced and time appropriation. It finds me a way to enjoy my self beyond the discrimination I've got from other people. My dogs now today are my very bestfriends they understand me and loves me for what I am. My pets helps me to elevate my self awareness. It is a great day having my dog as a pet and my dog as my bestfriends forever.
—yamlee

Pets and Therapy

14 months ago, 13 months into my hell. I got Flyboy, my father wanted me to get this toy poodle who needed to be adopted. He thought he would get me through the lonely days after my last child left home. Little did daddy know (who left me last December28th.)..... Fly is my saving grace. That little guy saved my life. Not because of any heroic act that credit goes to my Son, Kevin and the other kids. But for a year I lived in a all out war zone both internally and environmentally. I had not been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder yet. I shared everything and I do mean everything with this poor animal. Besides making him listen he allowed me to cut his hair, mousse it, you name it...... I also believed that he could sense it all. He always keeps eye contact and so amazing if I am not looking at him he will grab my face with his paw and hold it so I too am making eye contact with him.
—yarlek

my "LADY ANNE"helps me be the normal

It was my dog that stopped me from attempting to die about 5 months ago, she loves me no matter who I am that day or what I think I see. She needs me and I need to be needed. She is my greatest friend ever. I LOVE HER.
—Guest danniell

My personal pet shelter

I've been diagnosed with bipolar disorder since I was 12 years old. (I'm 24 now) I was never able to have pets due to my unstable housing situation. I recently got married almost 2 years and me and my husband were blessed with a house. I received 2 kitties as gifts from people who didn't want them as well as 2 dogs my family no longer wanted as well. We also took a tarantula and a dwarf bunny into our custody from someone who was neglecting them. Having these animals are the best therapy I've ever received. There's never a dull moment in our house due to all their different personalities. My family likes to joke and tell others that I'm married with 6 furry kids. My pets put so much meaning into my life and I love how much they need me as much I need them. Our pets are the greatest gifts to us that no one else wanted.. They are and forever will be our first children. (We don't have furless children just yet.)
—Guest Corina "Corinnie Cakes" D.

Pets do make a difference.

Therapy and medications definitely help manage my bipolar and depression, but art is my main outlet. Feeling depressed? Draw/paint something. Mood swings? Just vent it out on a piece of paper. Art had never failed me, but a few years back I was hit with an art block so severe it lasted for about a year. And within that year I went through major depressions, countless anxiety attacks, and even a suicide attempt. A friend suggested I adopted a pet based on his own personal experience, and since I do love animals I decided to give it a shot. It's the best decision I've made so far. Shortly after adopting my cat, I began to slowly draw again and my mood improved. Today my cat has been as effective as art in helping me manage my condition. My therapist, family, and friends have even commented on how much happier and more stable I am. Now, when art is not enough or when an art block attacks, all I do is take out my cat's toy and laugh my head off as I watch her play.
—Guest April

aroo makes me laugh

I have a beagle baylee the beagle when I'm having a down day baylee usually stays close by gives kisses and then she will bark and it comes out arooo arooo it always makes me laugh which gets my mood up and the day turns out better than when it started beagles rule
—Guest susan blankman

jASMINE

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder August 8, 1994. I had dog named Babe she was cocker spaniel and Labador! Now I have a minature pinscher and a tabby cat watching those two is never a dull moment. TT humps Jasmine. Why the name TT? My grandauters named he Turbo we found out she was female named her Trixie but the girls kept calling her Trixie Turbo we shortened her name to TT she is adorable!
—Guest vICKI

Bird and Cat

I would be lost without my Gold Capped conure (my personal alarm clock) and my Bombay tom (my living heating pad). My days would simply not be the same. I thank my husband every day for both of them.
—Guest Falinia

My ray of Sunshine Therapy Cat

My girl Sunshine who I rescued 11 years ago, well really it was a dual rescue as she rescued me also, I have bipolar 1 and since I have shared my journey with Sunshine I have never had the stability/love growth in my life and re: to my bi polar, she keeps me balanced and at a even pace and reminds me re: medication needs/safety and relax time and me time, I have physical challenges and Sunshine keeps me going onwards and in the present of the here and now/focused she truly is my ray of sunshine in my life.
—Guest Chris Mufford

Now I know why!

I have always had pets in my life but my preference is dogs. When my 1st marriage ended it opened up a whole new world for my family. Dogs, dogs & more dogs. My 2nd husband had bred Golden Retrievers & when we bought our daughter her pug puppy he thought having pug puppies running around the house would be wonderful! It was! Now they live all over Ontario as well as Quebec. The selling part was difficult because of course bipolar symptons would kick in: being nervous to meet new people etc. but instead I made new friends. While raising puppies I decided to become a Pet Nanny - self employed - and now I know that the success of that business is due to the unconditional love I receive from those pets as well as our 6 dogs, 1 bunny & 1 chinchilla...oh & possibly the wonderful man that allowed these furry creatures back into my life.
—Guest Pet Nanny

My Cats Are My Best Medicine

My cats literally saved my life. They seem to know when I'm depressed and surround me with furry love. When I'm wondering why go on I remember how much they depend on me, and I man up for them. We've had cats since I was a baby, and I don't know what I'd ever do without them. Cats are the best therapy I know!
—Guest Vet Cat Lover

Pet Therapy & as members of my family

My dog Max has been my life. The unconditional love of this big black lab mix has saved me from taking my own life as I was sitting there alone with pills in my hand his black gentle nose brought me back to reality. When my only child, my son died unexpectedly on my birthday, I could see him breaking away from the officers and chasing after the ambulance as they hauled me away to yet another involuntary commitment. WE share a common bond, although I didn't know it at the time I rescued him from a life of dying as a bait dog in a dog fighting ring and he has rescued me from the depths of my disease. Medication and therapy are necessary but Max is a life savior. If I don't sleep for three days he calms me. If I can't get out of bed he gives me energy. He doesn't wear frills or ride around in a purse. He prefers the end of the bed or the floor rather than a customized dog bed. He is my protector, companion, and defender. He knows my medication schedule and reminds me by "dancing."
—Guest Lucinda

Love my dogs!!

Although I was diagnosed as "bipolar" a few years ago, my psychiatrist has yet to get it under control. Due to losing my income, my husband has had to work extra hours for us to keep up financially. That leaves me with a lot of "alone time." I have two boston terrier/chihuahua mix sisters that keep me SO MUCH company. I don't know what I would do without them. I highly recommend anyone that is bipolar to have some kind of pet. They give unconditional love like nothing else.
—karenjba63

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