Animals have always been a special part of my life. As long as I can remember, I was bringing home strays and injured animals. When I was five, I brought home a stray kitten. This was my first rescued animal. It wasn't until I became an actor, and then injured my spine, that I discovered that these animals were actually very therapeutic and helped me to cope with my chronic pain. I wanted to share with others what worked for me.
People may not realize the tremendous part that therapy/companion/comfort animals have in easing the suffering of those with PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI), particularly within the military. A large part of the despair associated with these conditions is a deep sense of uselessness and being a burden to family and friends. This brings on feelings of guilt, which intensify the sense of worthlessness, igniting a downward spiral. I know this from personal experience after I sustained a severe spinal injury in 1992. I myself sank into that abysmal pit of feeling utterly worthless, useless and burdensome. Caring for an animal, especially one that you rescue, can help return you to a sense of being needed and useful. In my case, it was nearly miraculous.