I’d hesitate to call this anti-depressant free, because there is a cost, but for the mental health benefits it brings, the price is negligible.
To paraphrase Shakespeare, I’d have laughed to death anyone who’d suggested it in the past as a cure for clinical depression, but now I’d endorse those views.
It keeps you fit too this cure.
You can’t pull a duvet over your head and refuse to face the world; you can’t live in a hole and refuse to look out – this drug won’t allow that.
It works for men and women of all ages too and this miracle drug is known to increase longevity as you’re physically active and more at peace mentally.
You can’t get it on prescription – a doctor or pharmacist won’t let you have it.
But this beats Zopiclone, Fluoxetine and Propanolol (three drugs I was prescribed) hands down.
It has some side effects: mainly hair loss and smells, which means you have to clean up daily – which I do when I can be arsed – which is actually most days nowadays.
It gives a lot back though in terms of trust, obedience and love.
The best anti-depressant in the world: a dog.
There I said it.
I’ve been accused of becoming mildly obsessed with Cassie Walton, a smooth coated border collie we adopted in September from a rescue centre. She smells yes, she leaves hair everywhere, she’s made me revert to early fatherhood carrying scented nappy sacks in pockets for her dog eggs, but there’s something joyous about Cassie.
When I take her on her daily Groundhog Day trudge through bridlepaths and woods, she never turns and says “For fuck’s sake, not this route again.”
She loves it: the smells, the ritual of the journey, the wending ways through the woodland, the scent of squirrels and her hopeless pursuit of them, the bounding through leaves and hedgerows, the excitement of meeting other dogs.
And to be honest, I enjoy it too.
It is repetitive in that a same path is trodden most days – but I see nature change, feel the happiness of sun or wind or rain on my face, meeting others and witnessing the joy she experiences for 90 minutes a day after a recent history of abuse.
Because I’m time-rich, self-employed, freelance and recovering from a broken mind from trauma and depression, she mends me. She repairs me daily and, when I think, shit, look at that rain, her stretching and chatting demanding a walk gets me off my arse for 90 minutes of brisk walking.
Dogs are the best Prozac ever, in my opinion, and I have never felt any affinity towards animals ever.
I do now though.