Pet health (or: can't without them, can't with them)

siniang

Not Active
Sooo,

lately I've been struggling more with this again - the last few weeks have been particularly rough. I know many here have pets, so maybe something helpful will come out of this.

I'v repeatedly said I need animals around me. I need them to breath - sounds melodramatic, but is true. They are a major emotional support and as such kind of part of my treatment.

I've always had pets for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I grew up with rodents ...guinea pigs, gerbils, a bunny.... I've seen many piggies come and go. Many had health issues. Many died really young. A bunch got really old, including the bunny. My first cat, who found us when I was 15, was killed suddenly, by a car. It was hard, but I managed to move on. My dog of 10 years died suddenly after routine surgery in my early 20s. I've had anxiety towards pets' health before, but since then it's really gone downhill. It didn't help that, again, a pet died out of the blue without any previous symptoms last year.

I understand the concept of death. I know it's part of life. I know our animals unfortunately don't live as long as we do. When I was younger, I was better able to cope with it.

But these days, when one pet as much as sneezes, I start getting panicky. It's almost as having pets makes my symptoms worse because I pretty much worry about them nonstop, 24/7. Constant hypervigilance.

The sheer thought of loosing them due to old age or suddenly due to health is quite literally making me sick. They mean so much to me.
 
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osiris

MyPTSD Pro
Sending gentle thoughts your way @siniang

A few years ago my boy cat was killed. I have never been so heartbroken and literally didn’t eat for two weeks.
My girl cat had to be euthanised at the end of last year. For twenty years they were with me, well travelled and massive support until the end.

I am fairly sure the last few months have been as bad as they have been because of the loss. I keep looking longingly at kittens, despite the total impracticality of bringing one into my life right now.

I wish I had advice for you, but maybe knowing you aren’t alone in your worries might help. There’s a quote from the film Shadowlands “The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.” Helps me.
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
Oh, this is a subject I am dealing with every day. I have two cats, one who will be 11 on June 1st and one who just turned 17. My cats are the loves of my life. I could not live without them. Animals have been the most important part of my life since I was very young. The 11-year-old was diagnosed with lymphoma 9 months ago. The older one has something going on with her frontal and nasal sinuses; the vet thinks it might be a mass. She's been sick for a few months now.

I was a mess the first 5 or 6 months of the lymphoma. She was pooping on the carpet (and diarrhea), peeing wherever she could, and constantly throwing up. She had good days, but also had long stretches where she wasn't doing well at all. I thought about her dying all the time. And it made my symptoms about death generally so much worse.

I got to a point where I finally remembered that the only way I could get through this was to be mindful of every precious moment we had. It was still hard sometimes, but not nearly as bad as it had been.

Now with my other cat, I'm caregiving for two. I know they're going to die and I stress about it a lot, but not because of the fact they will die but because of *how* they might die.

Over the last several months I have come to understand that I have incredible death anxiety (just generally) and it is worse with my girls because I am so close to them and they are what keep me here.

It's almost as having pets makes my symptoms worse because I pretty much worry about them nonstop, 24/7.

Yep. I get that.

The sheer thought of loosing them due to old age or suddenly due to health is quite literally making me sick. They mean so much to me.

So for me, I've had to address my general anxiety about death (I, too, have a very clear understanding of death and know all of this is temporary for us all, but that doesn't really seem to help) - it literally keeps me from doing most of the stuff I start and occupies my thinking every day - and then, more specifically, the death of those closest to me. I thought it was primarily because we were just such a tight family, but I have discovered there are a lot of other issues that have to deal with death generally.

I'm sorry you are struggling with this, too.
 

siniang

Not Active
Thank you for your replies!

I think there are two things that contribute to this in particular for me specifically.

One is that I have a deep cognitive distortion that I can't let down my guard ever or something will happen. As in, as soon as I relax just for a moment, the universe "punishes" me for it. No rest for the wicked. With unfortunately quite some track record, so it's not completely all just thought up by my personal anxiety. (this doesn't only involve my pets but generally major life stressors)

The second is that the two deaths in particular mentioned above both happened during a time when I was already struggling. My dog died while I was caught in an abusive professional situation. Last year, my elderly cat got really sick all of a sudden and for an entire week I was convinced I was gonna loose her. At that point, I had just started therapy. How ironic. I was suffering so much during that week. When she was finally turning a corner, our 12 year old boy died. Just like that. Always healthy. Perfectly fine that night before. Dead the next morning from a blood cloth.

I think because of that they had an even deeper impact on me and left quite some imprint. And my anxiety feeds off those memories big time.

As in: it doesn't help that this isn't just some theoretical potential of what could happen. It already has happened.

And both were out of the blue. Which just "teaches" me that those things do happen unexpectedly. And it's so much worse emotionally when it's sudden.

Also.... I've kind of gotten lucky in the past decade and a half. My old cat is 18. My dog, while dying suddenly, was 10, which is 'ok'ish' for a golden retriever. Our boy cat was 12.... which I consider "young", despite the average age for cats is something around...8? Even my bunny got really old, so did my last guinea pig. I have many friends who've lost pets at really young ages. I've lost pets at really young ages, as I've mentioned, but not recently. So, statistically...it's "my turn" again to loose a pet young'ish...

Hellooooooo anxiety.... :banghead:

I have incredible death anxiety (just generally)
So for me, I've had to address my general anxiety about death (I, too, have a very clear understanding of death and know all of this is temporary for us all, but that doesn't really seem to help) - it literally keeps me from doing most of the stuff I start and occupies my thinking every day - and then, more specifically, the death of those closest to me.

This is something I can relate to a lot and probably need to address in therapy (once we're actually starting to have in-person sessions again). Because I'm the same. Or rather...I have a really twisted relationship with death. Death in general doesn't phase me a lot (as I mentioned...normal part of life...can't change it anyways....yadayada) - unless it's the fear of a very very limited number of beings really close to me (husband, my pets, parents - that's pretty much it) dying. I think I'm so afraid of loosing my pets because I don't have as close of a bonding with hardly anyone - which in itself seems odd. Everyone loves their pets. Everyone is sad when they die. But in my case, it almost feels co-dependent.... hmm... I think I still need to investigate where this is coming from. And why I don't form nearly as close a relationship with anyone else (except hubby).

But it's quite literally driving me insane.
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
One is that I have a deep cognitive distortion that I can't let down my guard ever or something will happen. As in, as soon as I relax just for a moment, the universe "punishes" me for it. No rest for the wicked. With unfortunately quite some track record, so it's not completely all just thought up by my personal anxiety. (this doesn't only involve my pets but generally major life stressors)

Yeah, I understand that. I also have this thing where, if I do a certain thing, I will cause the death of whoever I'm thinking about. This is a really hard thing to manage.

The second is that the two deaths in particular mentioned above both happened during a time when I was already struggling.

Oh, grief can have a huge effect on how you feel about other things. I lost 12 family and friends in 2008; the depression and other issues I was having were intensified and lasted a long time.

I think I'm so afraid of loosing my pets because I don't have as close of a bonding with hardly anyone - which in itself seems odd. Everyone loves their pets. Everyone is sad when they die. But in my case, it almost feels co-dependent

I don't know that it's any more co-dependent than a relationship with a spouse or children would be. I have nobody that I'm close to - except my mom, who is 85 - and my cats are my family. When they are gone, I will have no one. And yeah, that's terrifying. What keeps me from losing my mind is knowing that I can and will take in another cat (or dog) and share that same love with them.
 
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I used to have a pet cockatiel in my home. His name was "Luke."

He died suddenly back in 2003. And all these years later, I still miss the little guy.

But I'm grateful that he was a part of my life between 1990-2003. And he's still apart of my life because I still have the memories of him. I always will.

Siniang, I don't blame you for being afraid of losing another pet in your life. But try to enjoy the good times you have with your current pets.
 

Starfire

Confident
The sheer thought of loosing them due to old age or suddenly due to health is quite literally making me sick. They mean so much to me.

I was told years ago by a dog trainer of mine that my dog (animals) have a certain amount of love to give me/us. When they have given it all, they leave. Always before we want them to.

I force fed my last dog for two weeks. Then for the first time in his 14 years, he nipped my finger. I then remembered that teacher's words.

Was determined not to go thru that again. Sold my house, moved into an apartment. No more dogs. Lasted 3 years. Recently got a dog. Unlike all the others. This little guy is training to be my service dog. He will go everywhere with me. We will take care of each other until the love runs out.
 
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