When you have a mental disorder, you need all the support you can get from loved ones, and even those who don't love you, but do care for you in some way. A network of this kind is essential. It is not necessary for all of them to know about your disorder, just as long as they are there for you in life. And then of course there are the animals you may have, and they occupy a very special niche in this network of support.
For most of my life I have always had animals around, usually dogs and cats. They are members of the family and are treated with love and affection. But what is it about them that can reduce stress and anxiety, often key components in a disorder? To tell you the truth I don't know the answer, but I sure have some ideas.
Animals are grounded, they are close to the earth. They want very basic things in life and are not known for their powers of analysis, but they sure are good at observing us humans. And these domestic animals (or pets) manage to adapt to our lifestyle (dogs more so than cats) to an incredible degree. They are part of the group, or family or pack. They seem to say that we are all in this together. A dog may not understand the anxiety you are suffering, but he or she will definitely show sympathy.
These animals expect you to keep to your schedule, which is also their schedule, without letdown. This is the way they envision life, that everything is running smoothly. And you might ask yourself the question, "What is wrong with that?" Honestly, is there anything wrong with making your life as smooth as possible? Of course there isn't. They are right. Chaos is a detriment.
A beloved animal is there for the long haul. It is a force of nature that is therapeutic and mysterious at the same time.