Life with Mele: Pets and Mental Health

If you ask me if I am a mom, my answer will be yes. I am the proud mom of a beautiful little rescue pup named Mele. Mele is a 4 year old mixed dog. We are thinking she is Australian Cattle Dog mixed with Shiba Inu but still don’t know for sure. I adopted Mele when I moved back to Arizona after graduating from college. I knew that having a dog was going to be essential for me in living in my own apartment. So I only looked at complexes that were dog friendly and had a small list of restricted breeds. Only 3 days after I got the keys to my apartment, I went to a local animal rescue and searched for my baby. When I first met Mele, she had a cone on her as she just had her surgery. She was so sweet and loving. I had to choose between a very hyper young dog or adopting this beauty who is older and may take longer to adopt. Thankfully, everything went well and Mele came home with me, although she is not a fan of cars. And I can without a doubt say that she is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I knew that living by myself was going to be a struggle because of my anxiety and depression. I spend an extended amount of time without human interaction. If I didn’t have Mele, I probably would have gone absolutely insane at this point. Although Mele is not registered as an emotional support animal, she does provide me a lot of comfort for my mental health. There have been studies that show that having a pet has a lot of benefits in mental health support. Here are the major things I have found help me with my mental health.

  1. Having Mele means I’m not alone all the time. I spend most of my weekends by myself at home. It can be very isolating. I don’t do this on purpose (read more in another post about my friends hating me). Having Mele allows me to have another living being with me at all times. When I get lonely, I can look down and see my pup just lying down next to me. She’s there if I start to go insane and I can interact with her. Although she doesn’t talk to me, she definitely hears a lot from me. Sometimes, I like just talking out loud and Mele is there to listen. She often doesn’t like all of it but she’s still there.
  2. She forces me to go outside. I take Mele out three times a day so she can go potty and get a little bit of exercise (though she definitely needs more of it). Before I had Mele, I would go days without leaving my room as I never needed to. When feeling extremely depressed, I would hide myself in a protective cave where I can’t be hurt except by myself. Now, I don’t have that option. I have to put on real clothes and go outside even just for a little walk. Sometimes, it gives me severe anxiety but I can’t just hide in fear. I have to take her out because it is best for her. She makes me go outside to breathe fresh air, get some vitamin D, and move around. It allows me to relax and take a second to take my mind off of anything I may have been panicking about.
  3. I have someone to put over myself. Mele is my child and I certainly treat her like one. She is my baby and I would die before I let anything happen to her. I know she has had a troubled past and like me, is a very anxious dog. I want to give her the best life possible so I spoil her. But I have to take care of her. It doesn’t matter how I’m feeling because another life is depending on me. It doesn’t matter if I’m frozen in anxiety in the morning and I can’t bring myself out of bed. I have to because Mele needs to go outside. I can’t just think of myself about food and eating because I have to feed Mele. I can’t just ignore life and sleep all day because Mele needs attention and love. It is all worth it. I will gladly surrender my time that I could be spending on worrying or feeling depressed to taking care of Mele.
  4. Someone loves me unconditionally. People who have pets probably know that have a best friend who is always around is so great. But for someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, it has been the best gift I could have ever asked for. I am in constant fear that I am not loved or appreciated. I am alone most of my time when I am at home and it definitely has an effect on my depression. I feel down and out most of the time but looking at that smiling face who loves me even though she doesn’t show it makes everything bright again. I know its pretty stereotypical but she’s my child. Any time I’m feeling down, I have someone to cuddle with. She also can comfort me if I am feeling very anxious by just being nearby. She is always there when I need her. Dogs have this amazing love for their humans and it is just a fantastic energy for me to be around.

Mele is hands down my best friend. She has been there with me through so many different challenges of living on my own with anxiety and depression. If you are considering getting a pet for a mental health problem, I would highly recommend it as long as you are able to properly care for the animal. Also, rescue an animal instead of shopping for one. There are so many incredible dogs and cats that need homes. It has been the most rewarding experience I’ve had as an adult.

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