If you don’t like animals you might as well sit this one out.
We’re lucky in the UK to have free healthcare thanks to the NHS. It’s a wonderful concept and for a large part a great service, with doctors, nurses and other healthcare practitioners who are passionate about their job and there to make a difference each day.
However, within the mental health services especially, you’ll undoubtedly encounter roadblocks. There will be referrals, difficult receptionists, waiting lists that you’ll sit on for months. It can be disheartening. It can take every bit of your remaining strength to make the first few steps towards seeking professional help only to be stuck in a limbo where you cannot guess the end. You just have to sit tight and continue going through it until you get that appointment letter or phone call. It’s hard. I’ve been through it several times and I’ve lost a little faith in the system every time.
So I cheated. I found an alternative therapy whilst I spent 15 months on a waiting list for CAT (Cognitive Analytical Therapy).
Just over two years ago, I had a particularly bad depressive episode. As a consequence, I broke up with my long-term partner, took unpaid time off work and travelled 300 miles to stay on couches of my family for a month. I didn’t do a lot that was good for me, but I did what was needed to survive. And I found a website.
BorrowMyDoggy matches dog ‘owners’ with dogless dog-lovers. For owners, it’s essentially a ‘free’ dog-sitting or dog-walking service – just a yearly fee of £44.99. With that, you have a catalogue of verified locals who are available to look after your fur baby. For ‘borrowers’, it’s £9.99 a year to borrow someone else’s dog.
It’s honestly the best decision I’ve ever made for my mental health. When you’re depressed or anxious, one of the first bits of advice you’ll read or hear is “just get out the house, go do something”, but that can feel like the most impossible thing when you’re going through a hard time. Having a commitment to a doggy chum and their owner has forced me out, and also made it so much easier for me to be out. My anxiety is worse around people, even just going for a solitary walk in the woods I feel overly anxious and self-conscious about meeting a stranger. Now with the pup, I have a reason to go out and love following her waggy tail through the woodland. Sometimes I’m out in nature for three whole hours with her, which is beneficial in so many ways. It’s good exercise, the fresh air nourishes my lungs, I’m’ doing something proactive, I’m helping out her owner and spending time with her makes me so happy. Plus I’m way less awkward in social situations with her, people just want to pat her fluffy wee head, I don’t need much small talk.
The best decision I’ve ever made. I would 100% recommend joining if:
You love dogs but can’t afford the time and money to have one yourself
You struggle to get outside
You get anxious in public
One of the amazing things – asides from making a new friend in her owner – because I am doing a ‘favour’, I am also welcome to take the pup out outside of the regular days she’s asked me to. If I’m having a bad day, I just have to send a text and if she’s home she is more than happy for me to take the pup out for a few hours. This is amazing when I’m struggling.
You can sign up for free and see if there’s doggy’s available in your area – you don’t have to pay until you want to contact another member. I just waited until someone contacted me before paying. Two years on and it’s the greatest £20 I’ve ever spend and one of the best decisions I’ve made for my mental – and physical – health.
Go do it!
#NotSponsered by the way!