“Sadie is my perfect mental health assistance dog”

Sally* became ill  with depression and anxiety after her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. When she rehomed her aunt’s labradoodle Sadie she started to get her life back again. This is their story….

“I had a breakdown in May 2010. My dad had been diagnosed with cancer the previous Autumn, I was living in a merged family that consisted of myself, my husband, and four children, 3 from our first marriages, all of which had been through losing a parent, and 1 toddler, which is our only child together. As well as our hectic chaotic daily lives, we were planning for our first foreign holiday as a family. My dad had paid for our entire immediate family, 16 people in total, to go to Spain, with him and my mum. We were all hoping it wouldnt be his last holiday ……… One day it all hit me. I couldnt stop crying, I couldnt get out of bed, I didnt want to be alive anymore ……. and I was pretty sure that everyone would be better off without me and would go on just fine without any problems, as I was useless anyway. I couldnt function. I couldnt care for the children and called in friends to take the youngest as I couldnt even dress her, struggled to stay conscious.

I called the doctors, pleading for help. Crying in desparation on the phone. They told me I had to come in to the surgery so I drove, in this state. How I didnt crash I dont know. Thank goodness the surgery is only 2 minutes away!! I had a panic attack in the doctors room and was put on a betablocker to help calm me.

The holiday was hell for me. 2 weeks I struggled, in a deep depression, with 2 children in my room inc. the toddler who wouldnt sleep, and hubby in the next room with the 2 boys. I didnt want to be there. I just wanted to curl up in bed and not exist. I felt endless guilt and knew my dad was watching me, from his wheelchair, as he suffered in pain. He wanted us to be happy, to have the holiday of a lifetime so I smiled when I saw him.

I just wanted it to be over.

“One day it all hit me. I couldnt stop crying, I couldnt get out of bed, I didnt want to be alive anymore …….I couldn’t function.”

He passed away 18 days after we got back. I was then on the slippery slope of anti depressants but had to wait 4 – 6 weeks for them to start to have an effect, and tried a few different ones trying to find one that helped with the panic attacks.

From that time, until January 2011, is a blur. I got to a stage where i could do the basic functions but I wasnt living. Wasnt socialising and was actively avoiding seeing people. That is still an issue for me.

In January 2010, my auntie rehomed Sadie to me. Sadie is a 4 year old labradoodle. My auntie was moving into an over 50s flat and could only take one of her two dogs. Sadie out of the two, was the obvious choice out of who would settle in a new home easier. From the minute I brought her home, not a second of doubt has crossed my mind. I instantly had my best friend. I didnt have to think about it. I took her out for hours running around playing ball. She enjoyed it and the fresh air instantly picked me up.

“Compared to before I had Sadie, life is 100% better and easier to cope with”

It has been the same to this day. We now walk with a friend a lot who has 2 doodles herself. I can regularly be found talking to random people out with their dogs. We go to fun dog shows through the summer, take a picnic and chairs, make the day of it. We all love it, and I am proud to say that Sadie is my dog. She looks at me when I am sad, and seems to know that I am struggling. She comes up and lays her head on my lap as if to say its ok mum, I am here. She loves me unconditionally and I love her more than anything.

” I am able to be happy now. Something that 18 months ago, I would never have dreamt.”

She has given me my life back. Yes, I still have a way to go, but compared to before I had Sadie, life is 100% better and easier to cope with. And I am able to be happy now. Something that 18 months ago, I would never have dreamt. I miss my dad more than words can say. Sadie knows when I am upset, and is my constant companion, non judging and no questions.”

” Sadie is my perfect mental health assistance dog. x  ”

* Names and personal details have been changed for confidentiality