How Getting a Puppy Helped Me With Bipolar Disorder
Stability walked into my life on four legs — in the form of a sweet, lovable and energetic puppy named Daisy. Before we got Daisy, I was experiencing increased levels of anxiety and just more mood fluctuations than I cared to have. I was also still having trouble sleeping. We had talked on and off about getting a puppy, but our son was afraid of dogs for the longest time and I was afraid our cats would hate me for bringing a bouncy dog into their lives. About two months ago, our son finally started talking about dogs and expressing an interest. One day he said, “I’m going to name my puppy Daisy. Let’s go find her!” That was all I needed to hear: Yes, let’s go find her!
During the weeks leading up to the adoption, I was feeling kind of miserable and didn’t know why. My husband jokingly said, “We’re getting a puppy — that will make you feel better!” I knew I’d be excited, but I never imagined that I would truly feel “better.”
On August 10, 2019, we got up at 6 a.m. to be one of the first in line to meet these two puppies I saw online. When we arrived, I was determined that one of these puppies was mine! I didn’t make it to the first place in line, but I was second. When it was our turn to meet all the dogs, it was love at first sight when our son saw the soon-to-be-named Daisy. During the hour ride home, she fell asleep on my lap and became my new furry best friend.
Having a puppy is somewhat like having a newborn for the first couple weeks. I was suddenly up at 2 a.m. to take her out, and then again at 5 a.m. I played with her all day and started walking her as soon as she would walk on the leash. By the end of the day, I was absolutely exhausted. I went to bed and I actually slept through the whole night…until it was potty time for Daisy. I figured that sleeping pattern would fade after a few days, but almost two months later, I am still sleeping through the night! Overall, I feel better than I have in quite a while and I attribute this to Daisy.
Here are a few reasons why I think my life is better with a dog:
1. Routine. Any professional will tell a person with bipolar disorder that routines are critical, but I was never that strict about my routine. It was very loose. Since I’ve had Daisy, I get up pretty much at the same time every day and I go to bed at the same time every night. This has helped me reset my sleep schedule and has allowed me to actually feel rested. I rarely sleep during the day anymore — who can with a puppy?
2. Exercise. That’s another big one. It’s something I know I’m supposed to do, but I never managed to stick with it. I really hate going to the gym. I try to force myself and I know it’s something I still need to do. Since having Daisy, I walk outside for a minimum of a mile a day, but usually more like 2 to 2.5 miles a day. I went from doing nothing to moving for an hour a day up and down hilly roads — and I actually enjoy it! In addition to lifting my spirits, I took off a few pounds, too.
3. Nature. Those two walks a day get me outside and I get to experience sunlight and nature for an hour a day. I didn’t do that much before other than when I took my son Daniel out to play. There’s something much more peaceful about taking a quiet walk and listening to the birds while feeling the breeze. It’s calming.
4. Puppy love. Your pup will always love you! No matter what is happening or who else is mad, your dog will love you unconditionally. I had something similar with my cats, but a dog’s love is way more intense. My cats jump in my lap and purr, but Daisy will literally do a dance and whine and cry to be sure I know just how much she loves me.
At the end of the day, I think pets make a positive impact on everyone’s life. You don’t need to have a mental illness to feel the benefits of a four-legged friend. I’m incredibly grateful that I have my sweet dog in my life.