I was diagnosed with Manic Depression/Bipolar Disorder when I was 15 and after a string of doctors, random hospitalizations, bad medication mixes and heartbreaking suicide attempts I made the choice at 19 to learn how to handle it without medication. I know that it frightened my family badly and still occasionally does, but I wasn't prepared to back down.
When I got my first apartment, I did my best with alarms and reminders, but there were a lot of times that it was just too hard to keep moving forward. Then a neighbor brought me Chicken Little (the yellow tabby) and Dangermouse (the gray tuxedo.) They were tiny and helpless and still in the process of being weaned and their mother was dead, so I took them in and they changed my whole life.
They aren't registered or trained companion animals, but they take care of me as much as I take care of them. When I'm losing it to depression, they cuddle up to me and make sure I know that I have all their love and when I'm manic and can't sleep, they slow me down through sheer cat laziness. They make sure that I sleep with complaints and purring, remind me that we need to eat (or I should at least feed them) when I can't even remember that food exists. Most importantly, they keep me moving forward, not only because I have to work enough to give them food and shelter, but because everything is less overwhelming, less painful and less dragging when I know that they are at home waiting for me and that all they really want from me is my love (and a full food bowl.)
I've been laughed at for saying it this way, but they saved my life ten years ago and they save it every day now. I couldn't ask for better caregivers.
Fort Worth, TX