Animals, Mental Health

How My Dog Has Helped Me With My Dark Days | Mental Health

One of the main reasons why I desperately wanted a dog was for my mental health. I’ve been struggling with my depression and bad days ever since I could remember. I didn’t want my demons to swallow me whole. I wanted something that would force me to get out of bed and start my day. Something that would be my companion throughout the day and fight my loneliness. As it was my loneliness that always seemed to welcome those negative thoughts. That something turned out to be my dog, Dankie. I knew getting a dog would force me to go out and get some fresh air on those days where I never wanted to leave the bed. I knew seeing my dog doing something silly would make me laugh on the days where I only wanted to cry. Dankie has delivered and them some more.

I’ve talked about it before but those first two weeks were absolutely terrible. I regretted getting a dog every second of it. It was overwhelming. Suddenly I had this living thing to look after and I couldn’t just stay in bed all day like I wanted to. I had to care for this little puppy, teach him tricks and stand outside for a hour as I wait for him to go to the bathroom. I wanted to wait before posting this blog for prime moments to share. The first really big moment was just yesterday (23rd of October). I was in a bad state mentally. Very dark and gloomy. It was a bad day. Sometimes on a bad day I will force myself to go out for a walk and then come back home with a positive outlook. Other times on a bad day I just allow myself to sit back and feel what I feel. I spend the entire day on the couch watching Orange is the new Black and Dankie barely left my side. If he wasn’t on the couch physically touching my body, he was within an arms reach. He didn’t want to go outside and well leave me alone. He was right there by my side. He wasn’t restless or anything either. He was very calm and simply just cuddled with his mommy. Writing this now, I’m getting quite emotional. I needed that you know. I needed the company and love and Dankie just delivered. It was a natural process for him. He sensed my dark thoughts and supported his mommy in his own way. He would comfort me with kisses when I cried and he was just so amazing. It made me love the little fart even more.

Sometimes when I find myself in a circle of dark days that I can’t escape, I will force myself to go outside for a good hour if not more and just allow my brain to think of something else. Before getting my little fart, this wasn’t as easy to do. I would walk around the city but I wouldn’t come back home feeling like a brand new woman. I need to surround myself with nature and completely disconnect. There is this massive field by the river close to our house and twice a week I will take Dankie to this spot. There is just something so heartwarming about seeing the dog so absolutely happy while he hops through the long grass. Dankie is the biggest goofball and it’s a guarantee if you set him free in that area that he will do something silly and you will find yourself laughing. Since getting Dankie he has been the main source I turn to when I desperately want to flip that switch. I just take him for a nice long walk, sit down on a rock by the river and watch him play. For that hour or so I’m not thinking about those dark and heavy thoughts. They linger in the back of my brain don’t get me wrong but they’re not the only thing I’m thinking about. My main focus is instead the air around me. The smell and the happy bark that Dankie lets out when I call for him. That’s another thing that’s so amazing about having a dog. It’s always happy to see you. I mean how can you not smile when this little creature looks at you like you are his entire world.

Something that I want to touch on before I continue is about those dark days. I still sometimes have no idea what I’m supposed to do heck sometimes it even takes me a while to realize that I’m the dark loop again but what I started to do is allow it. I allow myself to feel these thoughts and emotions but I don’t act on it. I simply let it happen and write about it once I find the words. I just let myself feel what I need to feel and then ideally the next day or a few hours later shake it off. I don’t have all the answers. I just recently accepted my depression and the fact that I need help but hey I’m getting there. I’m taking one step every day and learning along the way. Dankie has been a massive help.

I think I’m going to wrap up the blog after sharing this next moment because it all comes down to one thing. My dog makes me laugh when I want to cry. He stays by my side when I need him too and he gets me out of the house when I need fresh air. He also forces me to get out bed. I mean I basically had the short version of the entire blog in the introduction. Some of you are probably like wow third time is the charm right? Did you get my joke? I basically said the same thing three times…Alright moving on. So somewhere last week I was waiting for Onno to get home and I was watching a show on Netflix to kill time. The entire day Dankie has been this massive ball of energy but he was finally getting sleepy. Although we don’t want to approve of this behavior, he cuddled with his mommy on the couch. The little fart knows that his only allowed on the couch when he gives me a cuddle. Anyway, he was completely spent and stretched out on the couch like he owns the place. Dankie let go of the biggest and most foul smelling fart ever and I saw the entire thing. That’s right. My eyes were on his anus (excuse my French but come on that’s the word for his butthole. I almost feel butthole is worse on the ‘bad word’ scale) and I saw it vibrate when he farted. The timing of the entire thing and how the dog woke up from the fart sound, glanced back before snorting and going back to sleep was timeless. I blinked for a few seconds still so shocked about what I just witnessed before I scared the dog awake with my loud and uncontrollable fit of laughter. I full on, I shit you not, lost the ability to breathe as I laughed. It was one of those crying from laughter while hugging your stomach because your abs hurt to laugh. It was brilliant and I will never forget that moment. Even now as I’m writing this I’m chuckling with this small smile on my face. I’m so happy to have Dankie apart of our little family. I’m so grateful for my furry best friend and all the joy he brings to our family. I love him so much.

If you’re struggling with mental health I really recommend you consider getting a pet. Especially if you’re alone for the biggest part of the day. it’s dangerous to be alone when you’re in a such a dark space mentally. It doesn’t even need to be a dog. I mean my cat is pretty damn great too but now that he can explore the outside world he doesn’t really stay by my side enough. You can get a bird, a hamster, a rabbit, a snake anything your heart desires. Just something that can interact with you throughout the day. Something that would require attention in the morning that would force you out of bed. Give it some thought. I realize not anyone has the living opportunities for a pet but there is other options minus an animal companion.  I’m currently exploring different activities to help with those dark days. There really isn’t a wrong activity (well murder is pretty bad) to choose from. Just explore. Try new things. Don’t give up.

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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PS Dankie has an Instagram account where I try to remember to post pictures and videos. You can find the link here —  https://www.instagram.com/dankieeey/ — But otherwise here are some of my favorite pictures that I took recently.