My puppy has replaced my mental health nurse. I didn’t buy a puppy to ‘cure’ my loneliness or my ‘mental illness’ but I knew I had so much love to give someone that a puppy seemed the perfect next step as a single parent working from home.
The truth is I have been feeling extremely lonely. An introvert lost in my own chaotic brain. Other than my children who I adore having half the week, I mainly work, exercise and live at home.
I didn’t crave to live with another adult, I wanted to care for something or someone.
After my children helped me to decide whether financially and emotionally we should be practical, following my head, and get a car or my heart and get a puppy.
I now know why charities offer dogs as ‘befrienders’ to help reduce anxiety and social isolation.
Normally when my mental health nurse comes around I meet her with a strained smile at my door. I am quite insular and don’t like letting people in to my life and mind when I am not feeling great, I normally work harder, smile more and move more when I am struggling.
But after getting my puppy, we didn’t have a lot to talk about other than the puppy because I have been so happy. Granted our mood can be temporary but I no longer had to ‘wait’ for support.
Subtlety stroking the dog, walking the dog and caring for the dog has taken me outside of my own head and connected me.
I have to leave the house these days, I have to have a routine with the puppy and I have someone to love 24/7.
It has also helped me to adopt a slower pace of life as people stop me to coo over my dog. I am normally rushing around anxiously trying to do a number of things my busy mind is telling me to do. But now I must stop, chat and breathe.
All my demons have not vanished but the discipline of caring for a canine companion has changed my life.
Yes I still have bouts of loneliness and ‘single person’s syndrome.’
But these days they’re short lived because before my mind becomes swamped, I have to tend to a puppy.
That said the Pandemic saw a rise in people purchasing puppies and I really wouldn’t advise diving straight into it if you are struggling because it’s a big commitment. There are plenty of charities which offer befriending services as well as sites where you can walk someone else’s puppy.
With mental health awareness week just around the corner 9-15th May and the theme being loneliness, I wanted to share some of my story.