Pets as Therapy

Well I’m debating getting a pet – current thoughts are a hamster or a pair of guinea pigs.

Many years ago when I was relatively new to psychiatric services my then psychiatrist suggested I get a pet as this might help me.

Shortly thereafter I got two guinea pigs, Babs and Hetty, then it got out of hand and I ended up with 13 guinea pigs for while which was more than I could manage.

How useful this was for grounding I’m unsure – on one level I had to look after them so it kept me grounded a bit; on the other hand I used to have conversations with them that to me were as real to me as conversations with people.

I found guinea pigs are better listeners though!

There were certainly helpful at keeping me emotionally more grounded when they were closely around me, and gave me a sense that I could be depended upon and so I wan’t just a person that needed other people, I could give support too.

Whether this was truly animal-assisted therapy I do not know; but from what I can gather dogs, cats, equines and dolphins are more commonly used.  In some way it helped me, which I suppose what mattered most.

Being Literal

I spend a lot of time analysing what people say to me; for a variety of reasons – but a major one is “What do they actually mean?”

People have a habit of not saying what they mean; and I don’t mean telling lies (that is a whole other problem for me).  People use proverbs and hyperbole, and I find that very confusing.

When in less distressed states or less “noisy” states I can often work out that the person didn’t mean what they said, but rarely can I determine what they actually meant to say  Although common statements that I’ve met before and have been explained can usually be inferred – a thesaurus of phrases in a way exists in my head.

I do often have the ability to rationalise that I don’t want to do what they said; although if I’m in a more suggestible state there is the potential for me to go through with what’s suggested if it’s a plausible option; for instance “why don’t you just kick the bucket” then I will kick the bucket.

If the statement is totally implausible I will normally know straight away that it is so; for instance if someone says “I’m on cloud 9” I will immediately know they aren’t on a cloud, but probably can’t work out exactly what they mean beyond experience telling me they are probably elated about something.

If someone states as an argument “blood is thicker than water” I may just take this as a commentary on the comparative viscosity of  two liquids.

In essence, when talking to me it is best to say what you mean in the first place – this isn’t to say I don’t use hyperbole myself without realising it – but often I use hyperbole that only make sense to myself!