1. Dogs, firstly, shout out to Syd-dywidwid, Archie-parchie, Osca-pants, Jess-yjessjess & Ralph-palphy, the main five dogs in my life. Okay, so as you can probably tell, I am a ‘dog person’. There are many ways these little, or more like large, four legged friends have the ability to brighten my mood.
When I feel low Syd is sure to be there, rolling around, huffing and puffing, and all around being completely adorable. Bare in mind, he is only available for cuddles when needed, which amazingly he knows just when they are. When I feel alone, Archie is the first to ensure me I am not, he is a sensitive soul and needs me just as much as I need him. Archie also, makes me feel kind of safe, when physically alone as well as mentally, he gives me a sense of security.
I love these dogs just as much as each other but Osca is is truly adorable, he is nine years old and still acts and looks just like a puppy. Osca and I have probably had the most adventures and although small, there is no mountain he cannot climb. Jess is a wild spirit and shows me what it is to be care free, to run wild and be free.Ralph, is our latest family member, and he reminds me of just that, family, feeling like a proud auntie each time I see him. Ralph is the definition of a gentle giant, he will knock you down but only to kiss you.
Even dogs I do not know have had such a positive impact on my mental health. Whilst in hospital, a therapy dog visited the ward, he was a golden retriever, also called Syd. Seeing Syd, seemed to give myself and others a kind of happiness, he lifted the ward and made the place feel brighter.
As well as dogs bettering my own mental health, I have seen Archie, lift my family members too, especially my grandmother, seeing her feel happier, makes me feel happier. I see this happiness whilst out walking, in myself and in the faces of others, those with their own dogs or without. Dogs are conversation starters, the warm smile or laughter at the way they play with each other.
2. Lambs, of course number two had to be the lambs, with a very personal reason behind it. For as long as I can remember, each Spring my family and I have gone to my grandfathers farm to visit the lambs. One of the reasons behind my love for animals and vegan lifestyle. Anyway, whilst I was ill, in one of my worst relapses with Anorexia, my family had planned the trip, thinking we could take it easy and it would, like always, help me feel a little brighter. February, two thousand and fourteen, I was too ill to leave my bed, I insisted my family went and enjoyed seeing them for me. I spent that day, in bed, crying in pain, crying at how Anorexia had taken this moment from me. This is such a prominent moment in my life, one that each time I see the first lamb of the year, I remember. I remember how I felt that day, and I look at how far I have come since. I feel proud, grateful and hopeful, hopeful for the brighter days that continue to come.
3. Robins, similar to Archie in feeling less alone, each time I see a robin, I get a sense of presence. Whether I am feeling alone or not, on a frosty, winters morning, nothing beats seeing a robin sitting on my garden fence. If only for a few moments, their peaceful presence, is enough to make a difference. Being too quick to fly away, I have given up in trying to take a photograph, making my time watching the robin all the more present.
4. Cats, as a child I had a fear of cats, this has kind of lingered throughout my life, even now I am still quite fearful. It is a work in progress, but seeing the cute, ginger kitten across the road, growing into a cat, has allowed me to change the way I see these, to me, unusual animals. I love watching this cat from my window, seeing the way he plays with the wind and the leaves, he walks around the street so confident and fearless, even with Archie leering by the gate. From seeing his growth and personality, I have even attempted to stroke him, he ran away but still. I guess, this small cat has subconsciously question and challenge the fear I have.
This list could go on, I have not even mentioned cows, pigs, horses and hedgehogs, or my favourite orangutang, oh no wait, pandas (choosing a favourite animal is impossible) and of course, I am talking photographs and videos as well.
This post has been inspired by two of my greatest passions bettering our mental health and my love for animals, combining the two only seems right, right?
As always, I welcome your thoughts and stories too, has an animal bettered your mental health, if so how?
Thank you for reading,
More posts on mental health, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, Pets as Therapy.