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My ESA Changed My Life

Having a pet that is able to recognize shifts in emotions and help ease the pain of depression is wonderful.

By Natalia DarbyPublished 5 years ago 4 min read
Meet Princess Buttercup, or as I like to call her Bean.

I've had pets my entire life. We always had stray cats that we fed and I created bonds with. I've been allowed to have a couple indoor/outdoor cats over the years. But it wasn't until I left for college and got my first pet of my very own that I even realized how much just having an animal for company can effect my quality of living.

I moved to Austin in August of 2014 and it was the first time in my life when I did not have a pet. At one point, my depression got bad and my mom brought up the idea of me getting an emotional support animal to help. That idea quickly got shot down when one roommate refused to be okay with me adding an animal to the apartment even though the other two were so down for it. So I spent my first ever pet-less year and it wasn't great. At all.

Move forward to me getting treatment for my depression in fall of 2015 and I thought, "Well let's see if my doctor thinks an emotional support animal will even be a good idea for me." She was EXTREMELY supportive of the idea. In fact I now have a prescription to have my cat for documentation purposes. It just so happened that a friend of my mom's had kittens she was looking for homes for. I got to pick my cat without actually getting to meet them before hand.

I handled all the paperwork with my apartment and when I came home for Christmas that year I got to come home with my cat. The moment I met Princess Buttercup after only seeing pictures of her for a couple months, I was in love. She warmed up to me so fast. The entire time I was home she was by my side. We instantly bonded. I was in love.

Adjusting her to life in my apartment was difficult. She had no idea what was going on. Of course she didn't want a lot to do with me while she got used to her knew living space. She was also still a baby and just wanted to do her own thing. Just having her presence immediately helped reduce my stress levels. I was taking better care of myself because it wasn't about me anymore. I had to take care of myself in order to properly take care of her.

Then my first depression spell it. I didn't know what to expect. I understood that ESAs really were just for the company and there was no way to guarantee that an animal would even pick up on my emotional state. But it ended up being the first time Buttercup cuddled for extended periods of time with me. She just laid in bed next to me, purring. If I started crying she would shift the way she was laying to get my attention so that I would distract myself with petting her. She would remind me to take breaks from my school work when I was getting too stressed by stealing my pencil or pen so that I would pay attention to her.

A recent cuddle session with Buttercup.

The past couple months have been rough. Nothing that I can't handle but I've definitely had more breakdowns than I'm proud of. But Princess Buttercup has been by my side the entire time. When I'm doing homework every couple hours she very politely gets up in bed with me and just lays next to me, getting pet between questions. If I have my laptop in my lap (usually) she starts to step on it, realizes what she's doing then patiently waits for me to move it so that she can occupy that space.

This is the first time in the 3 years I've had her where she sleeps in the bed with me almost the entire night. The moment I settle down for bed she is laying on her pillows next to mine. She moves between her pillows, on top of me and next to me throughout the night. If I wake up in the middle of the night for whatever reason and she isn't in the bed with me, I just extend my hand off the bed and she's there in seconds.

She spends so much time checking in on me and making sure that I am going to be okay. My quality of life has improved so much since adopting her. The unconditional love I feel for my cat helps me to constantly want to be in a state where I can easily take care of her. On my worst days I still get out of bed and do my chores that center around her. I frequently say that she is spoiled rotten, but really she has me just as spoiled. The unconditional love we share is so beautiful. My life is never going to be perfect. My mental health issues will always be there. But having Princess Buttercup with me, it makes things bearable. No day is too bad because I have her to help me feel better.

I actively want to improve my life and financial situation so that I can give her a better life. It's weird to call a cat my motivation to better myself but she really is. I strive to be the best owner and cat mom that I can be for her. She is my everything. My life has seen so much improvement in 3 years. She's here for me on my best and worst days and always loves me the same no matter what. It's the best thing for me right now. I am so glad I got my doctor to agree that having a cat would be beneficial to my treatment because I can't imagine my life without Buttercup at this point.


About the Creator

Natalia Darby

Just a queer journalism student who loves cats, horror movies, and music.

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