Bipolar, depression, paranoia...these and other such terms have become commonplace in our homes today. We all have a friend, neighbor, acquaintance who survives with one of these ailments. However, with proper treatment it is possible to not just "survive"; but to "thrive".
There are many forms of treatment available for those suffering from mental illness. Yet, raising chickens is an unusually surprising form of supplemental therapy for those who have a mental or emotional disease.
For example, I was diagnosed with bipolar, anxiety, and post-traumatic-stress disorder about a decade ago. It took several years for me to find a stable treatment plan that worked for me, and although from a medical point of view I was considered "level", I felt there was definite room for improvement.
(Pajama time was too long...)
It was hard to get up. It was hard to go to bed. I often wanted to hide in the closet or just run away. Yes, I had obligations, responsibilities, a house to care for, children and a husband to feed, and yet I lacked the desire and stamina needed to fulfill the basic daily routine in an organized way.
Enter the chickens.
My mom had been after me, jokingly, so I thought, to get chickens for five years. (We live near an airport, a soda packing plant, and a large daycare). I thought she was crazy. Then I visited a friend in the center of town who had six chickens on a tiny plot of land where she lived with her family near the mall. She was crazy!
But, wait! - I thought - if she's crazy for getting chickens, I'm already diagnosed with being "crazy" (pardon the expression); there's no reason I can't have backyard chickens, too!
Hubby kindly altered the shed into our new chicken home and built a run on the side. Our free ranging chickens came to us from various sources. Four pullets a few weeks old, one senior sister "Henrietta" and her twelve "fertilized" eggs. Instead of wasting time zoned-out in front of the television, our family spends more time outside together on different projects to pick up the yard and care for the animals, which brings us closer together and helps us to cope.
(My son with one of Henrietta's chicks, Custard.)
Chicken life made me go outside every morning and every night. Forcing me to awaken for a routine has helped me and my family immensely. When I'm manic there is nothing like scooping chicken poop to help bring me back down to earth! And who doesn't love to cuddle a snuggly chicken when they're feeling depressed? Instead of being fearful of what lurks outside, I look forward to spending time out back with my "chooks".
(My daughter snuggling with Cricket.)
Now, let's be realistic - I still need other treatment for my illnesses, yet "Chicken Therapy" has improved my quality of life in a way I would never have imagined! (And I have a good imagination, complete with hallucinations and everything!)
(Having chickens has even helped me lose weight!)
In conclusion, my advice is this: do you have friends, family, acquaintances who deal with mental or emotional distress on a regular basis? Share this article with them. Maybe they will find "Chicken Therapy", or something similar, to be a helpful supplemental treatment for them and their family. In my opinion, though it is work, taking care of chickens is a delight and is better than "cracking up" any day!
(Agnes strolling gracefully through the garden like a princess would bring anyone some peace of mind!)
Chicken Therapy - Raising Chickens to Supplement Treatment of Mental Illness
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