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Pet Therapy - By Marisa from

Earlier this year, I asked Marisa Troy to write a post about how pets have helped her through her darkest hours as she dealt with Ulcerative Colitis. I have found that my cat, Mr. Darcy, was very beneficial when I was hurting as well. I remember several instances when I was weak, frustrated and in pain. Mr. Darcy would jump up on the couch with me, lay on top of me and start kneading my abdomen. So comforting. So without further ado, here's Marisa's post. Thank you Marisa!
There is a lot of data about the benefits of having a pet. Instead of boring you with mumbo-jumbo that you can read on the internet, I am going to get straight to the point.
Along with my parents, having dogs my whole life is the reason I am still here. Living with a chronic illness like ulcerative colitis (a form of inflammatory bowel disease,) can be debilitating in so many ways.
Physically; it can cause you to not be able to walk on your own due to so much blood loss and inability to keep yourself nutritionally up to par. Hospitalizations are very common in people with IBD which usually includes many tests, poking and prodding, and a general sense of feeling like a guinea pig/pin cushion. Getting to doctors appointments can be exhausting in and of itself (even if someone else goes with you.) It becomes difficult to keep up with showering which can make you feel just gross, for lack of better wording.

Emotional issues stemming from dealing with such a painful and life altering disease can wreck havoc on a person’s life. The isolation that comes with this disease is insurmountable. Many either feel the need to hide their situation from friends/family because they are scared and embarrassed while others truly cannot physically keep plans with friends/family. This can cause a rift in relationships. School work and/or work can suffer leaving a person feeling more dependent on others. Guilt sets in. There are a lot of times when there is so much going on in your body and no one, including doctors, can put the pieces together in order to get your symptoms managed at the very least. This can cause frustration, feelings of hopelessness and maybe even suicidal thoughts. I do admit that there have been many times when I just wanted it all to stop. I did not want to die but I did not know how much longer I could continue fighting.
Basically, life with a chronic, invisible illness is beyond difficult and oftentimes, traumatic. Plus, the general public does not really have a clue what it is like to live with a debilitating illness like Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis which makes day to day life that much more challenging. Most of us do look fine.
While family and friends can be there to support you, take you to appointments and be a shoulder to cry on, there comes a point when a person feels badly about relying on others for so much. And of course, there are many individuals who, unfortunately, do not even have support from their loved ones.
This is where the unconditional love of an animal can come into play. Pets do not judge. They do not care what you look like. Having them close by has been shown to help lower blood pressure and decrease anxiety. Even though they are not magic, having an animal by your side can make so much of the mental health issues easier to deal with. Even though a pet is hardly a substitute for human interaction or being able to be out and about in the world, it can be a lifesaver for those who are stuck in the hospital or in their homes.
I have formed a bond I never knew could exist with my dogs. I have two rescue labrador retrievers now and I finally understand the meaning of “I don’t love one {child} more than the other; I love them differently.”
Holli is my first rescue dog. We formed a bond quicker than I had with the other three dogs I had. This girl woke me up from PTSD related nightmares and knew exactly how to comfort me afterwards - laying on my chest. As soon as I start to cry, Holli jumps up and runs to me, licks me, then proceeds to lay her body as close as possible to mine. When I would come home from the hospital or have blood drawn, she would not stop licking the bruised parts of my arm until I was soaked.
It is animals like her that make me believe we do end up with the people/animals/things we were meant to surround ourselves with. There will always be a special place in my heart for her and I am beyond grateful that she is in my life. I do not kid when I say that had it not been for her presence in my life, I would not be alive today.

Marisa can be reached at her website on
You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

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