So excited to share another guest blog post with you guys, this time from a woman named Lauren who I met on Instagram. She also has bipolar disorder and she was willing to share some of her personal story. To learn more about her, check out her website and Instagram page. Read on ahead to learn more about her amazing dog helps her cope with her mental illness.
I have bipolar disorder, but I also have a dog. And while those two things seem about as similar as crab cakes and a hamster cage (one I’m highly allergic to and the other a clear box filled with adorable fluff), they are actually quite relative.
First, a little background: A year and a half before my diagnosis, I adopted Mila (Mee-lah). I was in Santiago, Chile, had the energy and thought speed of a jackrabbit on coke, and a day away from catching my flight home to Maryland. On my last day of volunteering at a dog shelter, I turned to a fellow worker and said in a terrible accent, “Quierro llevar a ese perra.” (I want to take that dog.) The other volunteer must’ve been just as manic as my last-minute decision, because she immediately organized the paperwork, shots, local reporter (seriously), and a dog crate to help me take home one of the sickest looking strays in Chile.
Fast-forward to post-diagnosis: Mila is now one of the healthiest looking canines in Maryland (and I no longer have the traits of a drugged bunny). Mila fills every home with joy with her waving-flag tail and ungainly sense of her immense size. In everyone’s eyes, she was my best ridiculous decision.
Presently: I’m properly diagnosed, on the right medications, sticking to a healthy regimen, and better than ever. However, as some of you may already know, there is no single cure to bipolar disorder. I will always have it and I will always have to manage it. Sometimes it pops back with bouts of unexplained sadness and sometimes it appears in the idea of hiking the Appalachian with a goat.
So let’s get back to explaining my medication.
Here are 5 ways my dog eases my illness:
- Whenever depression hits and entombs me in bed, Mila’s squeaky whine to go outside forces me up. Our light strolls in the fresh air rejuvenate me, and, at least for a while, I feel more like me.
- Whenever a panic attack has me choking on the bedroom floor, I call for Mila. She ambles in, one ear flopped back from a nap, and plops her heavy ragdoll body beside me, helping me calm my breathing.
- Whenever I’m at a large dog-friendly event, like a holiday gathering of my 30+ family members and 3 other dogs, and my anxiety starts to twitch in my muscles and mind, I seek out Mila—who’s usually at my side (or near any food). I excuse myself from the ruckus to take her for a potty break. “Didn’t you just take her out?” a skeptical sibling might ask. “She wouldn’t go,” I lie. “Gonna try again.” Brilliant.
- Whenever mania begins to spark my blood like a shot of Tequila, and I think of running away that very day to Hawaii or Spain, I look at Mila, sprawled on the couch, and am grounded. I can’t be too spontaneous when a furry goof depends on my continuous care. Instead, I opt for a country drive with her to one hiking spot or another.
- And lastly, at other times when I see a grandiose scheme as “I could actually do this one,” and someone questions my motives, I remind them that Mila was also a manic decision, and look how great that turned out to be. (Insert adorable dog emoji.)