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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The night before I went to get Mohawk I had a fierce panic attack. I hadn't had one of these since my high school finals. I woke up in the middle of the night, crying and went to the bathroom. I asked myself if I could handle the responsibility to take care of a living thing and the response was yes. I have never owned another pet.

The first week I couldn't sleep at nights I was constantly up and checking on her. Then time went by I started to feel more relaxed. But it's been three weeks now that my anxiety is back and worse than ever.

Ever afternoon at about 6pm I get desperate. I worry about coming home from university and how Mohawk will be. Some issues had rose the first weeks of having her (the cage was inadequate) and I had to spend more money than I had calculated...this threw me off but I would never EVER risk her well-being for some cash. So I went out spending my money, drawing cash from my 'travel' savings and getting her a better setup... Now I feel like I'm spending too much money on her (I seriously constantly buy her stuff) and I can't stop myself! I think the more stuff she will have the happier she will be, but that's really not the case because I end up not using half the stuff I buy! And then I worry about losing all my money!

She seems happy and healthy but still I am just neurotic about it. If there's a tiny bit left in the food dish in the morning I go FRANTIC thinking she's sick. I always pick her up and check on her feet and tummy. I constantly check on her. If she doesn't use her wheel for a night I go INSANE with worry the next day. Checking on her is the first thing I do when I wake up, then get home and right before I go to bed.

I spend my days going to uni and reading stuff on this site on my phone. I think about her 24/7. When I go out she's all I can think about. I don't have a life anymore, seriously.

I didn't have any expectations. I ended up with an exceptionally well-tempered hedgehog. But now after all this time I hate her. I really, deeply hate her. I have no interest in playing with her anymore. I don't even want to bond with her anymore. I hate her so much...

...until I come home from university and look at her cute face again and have her sniff my hand and cuddle on my lap...then I feel really happy that she is ok and relaxed. But I don't want to play with her or take care of her. Regardless I still do, I take the time to clean her cage and take her out for a bit. But I am no longer happy about it.

I constantly think about giving up and selling her. Then she crawls by my side on my bed and I feel INCREDIBLY guilty for thinking so. There is seriously nothing wrong with Mohawk's temperament and she's a nice hedgehog. I sometimes, in my dark hours, think she's pointless to have around and all that because she doesn't wag her tail and stuff but I get over these thoughts pretty fast. I am not disappointed in her, I am mostly disappointed in myself, thinking I'm doing everything wrong and I'm a selfish, horrible care-taker. Every afternoon, at about the same time, I just have so many bad thoughts, I worry about her and then I feel like I am neglecting myself in her favor...

I have to get my life back but I don't want to loose Mohawk, I just can't get used to the responsibility...


Any tips/thoughts/experiences would be welcomed. I really needed to get all of this out of my chest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
On top of that no one in my family except my brother likes her. They don't see the point in having her and are not supportive of me. My parents tolerate her presence but they aren't really attached to her. They think she's stupid. My grandmother constantly says she looks like a rat and there's no point in having her around because they can't bond with humans and would probably forget me if I went away for a week or so.

I try not to listen to them but I'll admit that that last comment hurt a bit.
 

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Not to be rude but you should seek help for your anxiety, it doesn't look healthy and you don't look like you are enjoying the things around you.

If you seriously think you don't want to take care of her it's better for both of you if you find her a new home where she will be cared for and loved. It's not fair with an animal if you decide to act on those feelings.
 

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i totally feel you! I have pretty bad anxiety myself. though having Penelope really helps me get through the terrible times. I constantly spend money on her when I don't need to as well. There are nights where I just dont cuddle with her which does sound bad but I just don't feel too well about it. But She still loves me and I still take care of her no matter what. My tips would be to breathe. Try to think positive vibes, Talk to someone about it. I know how you feel about people in your family hating it. My family doesn't see the point in the whole hedgehog thing. But It's a personal opinion. I wish I knew more how to help. If you ever need to chat though just to another person who has the same problems you can always message me on here and I can give you my email. You're not alone I promise!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks guys for the support :) Especially zombielover, I'm glad you get it.

+Artemis-Ichiro I never said I would stop taking care of her. I have thought about re-homing her. Every time I do my anxiety gets even worse. I can't stand the thought of her ending up with someone who doesn't understand her needs, someone who only looks after her for a month and then their enthusiasm goes away and they dump her. I also don't want to put her through this. I know it will be way too stressful because she trusts me and my brother and she is very used/attached to my scent. I also love her. Any negative emotions come from my anxiety and not because I don't want her around.


+shinydistraction, my university sadly doesn't. I have looked into maybe visiting another university if my student card is valid there. Thanks for taking the time to respond. :)
 

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The thing is when people have anxiety or any type of mental illness sometimes is easy to neglect a pet and sometimes you need to take care of yourself before you can commit to caring for another life and if itget out of control its not fair to the pet.

Im not saying you are neglecting her but just seeing things from another side. I hope you can get the help you need.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I agree. I recently read this very useful post on here about pet care and motivation. It applied well to my case. I knew I was anxious and prone to nervous breakdowns before I got her. But I proceeded because I want to take the situation in my hands and get over it. AND grant Mohawk a long and healthy life as well.

I'm glad I posted this thread :) Being open to other people is already making me feel better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So I updated my other thread too but I wanted to thank you guys here as well. I am feeling much better today. I actually feel kind of guilty for blaming my anxiety and all on Mohawk.

Yesterday I was holding her for cuddle time and she had perched against my arm and I slightly bent over her and I swear she purred for me. I felt this soft vibration and a very subtle 'click click click' just like in a video of a hedgie purring (someone had posted it in this forum I think). I can't be entirely sure if it really was a purr or why she was purring but I like to think she was enjoying our little moment. That really helped with all my stress.
 

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So I updated my other thread too but I wanted to thank you guys here as well. I am feeling much better today. I actually feel kind of guilty for blaming my anxiety and all on Mohawk.

Yesterday I was holding her for cuddle time and she had perched against my arm and I slightly bent over her and I swear she purred for me. I felt this soft vibration and a very subtle 'click click click' just like in a video of a hedgie purring (someone had posted it in this forum I think). I can't be entirely sure if it really was a purr or why she was purring but I like to think she was enjoying our little moment. That really helped with all my stress.
I'm so happy to hear about this :) I'm glad you're feeling much better!
 

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It sounds like this is really not about Mohawk at all. If anything it seems like Mohawk is the one thing you still seem excited about even though you may be going overboard with the spending. And on that note...I am guilty of over spending too, It happens. If you can still meet her care standards while looking for someone to talk to about the personal stuff there should be no need to rehome. If you can't than I guess that's something to think about but maybe don't make any split second decisions. We all go through hard times and many people have anxiety and depression. We don't all immediately throw in the towel and rehome our animals. Look for support professionally , lean on people you trust to help and things will become more clear for you. Then you can make an informed choice about what's best for Mohawk not just an emotional cloudy one. Good Luck.
 

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I second the calls for professional help. I'm not a professional, but I suffered from GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) for a very long time and it sounds a lot like what you're doing through right now. Don't ignore the need for help just because you have a good day or week. The feelings you have are not normal. You don't have to go through this alone. I would double-check with the school and see what resources are available - try your local student council, the disabilities office, human resources, etc.. If not, visiting a doctor is a good starting point. They'll have tests you can take and may be able to point you in the right direction.

Edit: This is a good starting point http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/index.shtml. Please feel free to ask me any questions too, I'll do my best to answer.
 

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I've been reading along on this thread and debating what to say. I'm not sure I can really help much as I'm in a very similar situation and need to work on finding someone to talk to. I keep procrastinating on it! But anyway, I thought I'd post as another "you're not alone" kind of thing, though I'm not sure how much it helps.

I've had GAD for at least a year & a half, badly enough to actually affect day-to-day life. I think I've had issues with it for years and it just didn't get bad until more recently. Usually it doesn't cause me as many problems with animals...until something goes wrong. Bindi had a couple bouts of URI when I first brought her home & that made me into a bit of a wreck. I know I considered giving her back to the rescue friend I adopted her from several times. I'm glad we made it through it though! I'm anxious about starting her on a raw diet, in case something goes wrong, but nutrition is a huge interest of mine & I'm researching things to death, so that's helping reassure that I'm preparing as best I can.

The other time I've had anxiety blow up with the animals so far is with my snake, a ball python. I was a bit of a wreck in general for the first month or so that we had her - her homecoming wasn't great, though she was a trooper, and she's my first reptile, much less snake. So I was constantly convinced that I was doing something wrong, that I couldn't care for her properly, that I was going to forget about her because she's not a handle-daily type of animal, etc. Then she had stuck shed in her first shed and that left me sitting in the bathroom with her, sobbing, at one point. But we got the stuck shed off, and everything was fine!

So now the good parts...I do really find that animals help my anxiety more than they worsen it. It gets pretty rocky when something goes wrong (which hopefully treatment will help with managing), but when they're good, they help. Bindi's a sweetheart and makes me smile simply because she's so content to snuggle up to me and because she'll do cute things like tuck her head under my chin & let me stroke her quills. The cat has been helping a lot with cuddles, and with being the only creature in the house that actively seeks my attention. :lol: And surprisingly enough, Charis has even helped with a bad day once - I got her out, she decided she was content to stretch out next to my leg & just chill (usually she explores all over the place or likes to curl up behind a pillow where I can't bug her much). We sat there together for a while and she let me stroke her, which helped calm anxiety.

So...I guess if I had a point to this, it'd be "hang in there". Anxiety tends to have ups & downs, at least in my experience, and especially with something as emotional as a pet that depends on you. Pets don't cause anxiety as a mental illness, but they can be a stressor that occasionally makes it flare up. I think the most important thing is to ride out the wave, and do what you need to to take care of both you and your pet. Keep in mind what's most important for your animal - food, water, appropriate environment (such as heating/lighting, safe cage, etc.). Handling is very important for hedgehogs, but in a mental health situation, comparable to walks for a dog - if you miss one night, or even two, due to being in a poor mental state, it's not going to cause an immediate negative effect on their health. Ideally, you'll still at least take them out for a minute to check them over for health concerns. But you just have to be careful that you don't let it slip into a week or more of not handling them. Same with cleaning their cage - if you have to delay it a day, they're not likely to have an issue with it. But if you leave it for a week...well, it's probably getting to be a problem then.

About buying things & not using them, etc...I have at least three different beds sitting in a drawer that Bindi wouldn't look twice at. Another is now in the snake tank. Another is sitting by the snake tank waiting to be modified for the snake. And two are still in Bindi's cage and regularly ignored. :roll: If the loss of money kicks your anxiety up a lot, you could see about reselling them to get some of the money back.

I wonder if there are things that might help calm your anxiety if you start to get worked up about particular things. Like, if you start worrying that you don't know what you're doing, write up a list of questions, such as recommended temp range, what kind of food, why fleece is so well liked, what cage set ups are recommended, etc. and then you can go through them & answer them and reassure yourself that you know the information? I don't know if it would help you or not, just a suggestion! I had to do a lot of reassuring to myself that I knew what I was doing with Bindi because even after being on this forum for 7 years, anxiety kept making me doubt myself.

Okay, I'll stop rambling now. :lol: I hope some of this was helpful, and I do hope that you'll be able to find someone to talk to. I know it can be difficult, and I also know it can be very intimidating to consider doing (which is what I'm dealing with). But I know a lot of people that have found it very helpful. You can also look up information online for ways to manage and calm anxiety - I've seen many guides & suggestions for how to recognize a panic attack and ground yourself while it passes.

Oh...and last thing - I know it's difficult when the people around you don't understand your love for an animal, but that's what we're here for! :) Always feel free to come talk about Mohawk here and you'll find like-minded people that appreciate these little critters.
 

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A lot of us have been in your shoes.
Maybe this will help.
Acknowledge your anxiety. As it's building and not full blown.
Think of ways to combat it. Kelsey's list of I know this could be great. Find a focus on what you'd like to learn so when you have the time to research you have a party to go on.
Take a break, ignore certain sections on here, memorials and possibly health if you feel anxious. Sometimes reading things on here can get depressing and heighten anxiety.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
So last night after cuddling Mohawk I took a hot bath and gave myself some time to reasonably access the situation.

So long as I keep stressing over every single thing, Mohawk will be miserably spending her time in her cage, faced with an aloof and irresponsible owner. Also, under the present circumstances I cannot provide a CHE lamp for her (It wasn't part of the original setup but now became apparent she would need one sooner or later).

On top of that, I may love her -and I really feel for her- but I obviously have not reached the level of unconditional love one must possess to love a hedgehog. I still have expectations of her, I do not perceive her as something that is there for me to love and provide with the best possible life, but as an object that 'owes' me for taking care of her.

It is very unfair for Mohawk to be stuck with someone as irresponsible, selfish and neurotic as myself. I acknowledge my faults. And to correct them I will rehome her to someone who can actually take care of her. Because I need to take care of myself first.


I'm not posting this to cry or anything -believe me I did cry a lot when I finally stepped up to the truth- but as an example for anyone who ever comes in my position.

If you ever find yourself in a position where you can no longer provide the BEST POSSIBLE life to your pet you should let them go because somebody else will. I respect Mohawk's right to be loved and taken care of. And while I love her I obviously can't, don't have the will and the energy to take care of her in the present circumstance.



Thanks again for all your responses, encouragement etc etc I hope I made the right choice for her and myself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'm sorry for double-posting but knowing people here actually care about hedgehogs I wanted to add that I re-homed Mohawk today.

She's now in the hands of a lovely lady who has had previous experiences with hedgehogs. Her last hedgehog died of cancer and she was very hesitant to adopt again but when I sent her a picture of Mohawk sleeping in my lap she instantly reconsidered. She got all of her cage setup and everything and we met today. I had Mohawk in the carrier she came with and she was really calm, instantly perched in the lady's hand just as she would in mine. I gave her all of her favorite toys and the snuggle pouch I had made for her myself.

Mohawk's new mom keeps in touch with me and will keep sending me pictures and letting me know how she's doing. She already texted me today and let me know she's very relaxed and sent me a picture of her sleeping in her mom's lap, all cuddled up with her new blanket.

I'm really glad things ended this way. Thanks again for all your advice, if it weren't for you guys Mohawk would probably still be suffering in her cage and I would be in the next room crying my heart out. But now I can actually take care of myself and be sure she gets the care and love she DESERVES.

We will all live happily ever after, I hope. :)
 

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I'm glad you figured out what would be best for both of you and found such a good home for Mohawk. :)
 
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