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29 July 2011

Chooks as Therapy

A couple of days ago, I was chatting with a friend about my chooks and she asked me if I am glad that I have got them. I thought about that for just a moment, and then I said. "Yes, I am." I was surprised to feel my throat tighten up, and the slight sting of tears in the corner of my eyes as I added: "This might sound odd but, I have to say that having chickens has changed my life completely."

As cliched and crazy as that may sound, it is actually very true.

Before the petticoat bunch came into my life, I had very little to do, apart from mope around the house, wondering what to do with myself. I'd been forced out of the workforce in 2004 due to a disability, and whilst I liked to think that I was adjusted to that, and coping well, the truth is, I wasn't doing so great.

A few months ago, my doctor prescribed anti-depressants to address some fairly major problems I was having with anxiety. I was agoraphobic, afraid to go out, afraid to drive my car any distance, and just plain...afraid of life. So I was sitting here in my house never going anywhere, not doing a whole lot to occupy myself and probably suffering with depression, along with the anxiety.

Then my chooks came along.

Most people would have some awareness of 'pets as therapy' programs which are run in hospitals and nursing homes, where people bring in animals to visit with the ill, the infirm and shutins. Animals, yes, even humble chickens, just have a knack of raising spirits, prompting smiles and renewing interest in life. I am almost certain my daughter (she's a nurse) had that kind of thing in mind when she decided that chickens would make a great mother's day gift for me.

She was right! From the moment I got the chooks, I had something to think about outside of myself and my limitations. I started thinking about nesting boxes, comfortable perches, what to feed them on, and if something needed to be done, I found a way to do it. Usually with help from my longsuffering partner, but sometimes I'd just go and do it myself. I do things a lot slower than most people would, because I have to stop and rest frequently, but I get it done eventually.

I've noticed that I smile more often, and I laugh a lot, watching the hens in the garden, and in their coops brings many a smile or chuckle as they sort out their gallus gallus domesticus politics--better known as the pecking order. I smile just thinking about them, and if you get me started, I can talk about them for hours. *rolls eyes*

I guess what I am trying to say with this post is--if you're blue, get a chicken, get two, or three or more! I'm living proof. Chooks are great therapy!

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