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Animal Rights and Psychology: Depression
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Animal Rights and Psychology: Depression

This is the first of, what I hope to be, a series of posts about animal rights as it relates to psychology. I have always been interested in psychology and I intend to go back to school this fall to study it. Of course, the fact that I find it interesting in no way qualifies me to write about it. So these posts will be purely from my own perspective and about my own experiences.

I have never been what you would call a happy person. My life has always fallen well below my expectations. However, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I feel like it might be worth it anyway. I believe I owe this newly found motivation to the animal rights movement.

I struggled for many years with feelings of worthlessness and depression. There was a long period in my life when I really did not want to live anymore. I felt that there was no reason for me to keep going because, no matter what I did, I still didn’t feel that my life had any value. It is only recently that I have found the value in my own life. I am now living every day with the goal of furthering animal rights in whatever way I can. Even if those ways are pretty small and insignificant most of the time.

I have always loved animals and felt a need to protect them. When I was a child I used to rescue bugs from other kids who were trying to squash them. I stopped eating meat when I was thirteen and became vegan at eighteen. As much as I cared about animals and as much as I wanted to help them in any way I could, I still never felt comfortable talking about my beliefs and, for the most part, would keep my veganism to myself unless it became necessary to talk about it. My friends at the time knew that I was vegan, but they didn’t really know why and they certainly didn’t know how strongly I felt about it.To be honest, I’m not sure I even allowed myself to realize how strongly I felt about it.

My life finally changed when I accepted the fact that animal rights is the most important thing to me. I’m not sure exactly when this occurred, but I think it was shortly after my first trip to Farm Sanctuary. Getting a chance to interact with all of those amazing animals who had been so wronged by humanity made it impossible for me to ignore the importance of the animal rights movement. Suddenly, instead of desperately searching for purpose in my life, I had a purpose. I just needed to find a way to fulfill it.

I still don’t know exactly what I’m going to do with my life. I haven’t yet figured out what would be the most effective thing that I could do. Until I figure that out, I am just going to do anything and everything I can. If nothing else, each and every one of us has the ability to affect those around us. There are at least four people in my life who have stopped eating meat because I finally got up the courage to tell them how important it is. That is something. It’s not a lot, but it’s something and, as crucial as this cause is, every tiny bit of impact we can have is important. There are still so few of us, and we are all needed if this movement is going to succeed.

So has animal rights transformed me into a happy, well-adjusted person? No. Has it given me a reason to live? Yes. And, for me, that’s enough.

 

*The picture is of Theresa, a good friend from Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen NY. 

Image credit: Tobias Akerboom (at hutmeelz)

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  1. Virtually Homemade
    Virtually Homemade
    Thanks for sharing your experiences and feelings. It sounds like you are on a good path and making a positive impact on others. Voted. Check out my recipe for blueberry mint lemonade and vote if you like.
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    1. Whitney Metz
      Whitney Metz
      Thank you very much! Your recipe sounds great! Voted.
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  2. Veganara
    Veganara
    Vote no 3. Great blog, thank you for your honesty. It.'s amazing, so much of what you say echoes how I feel! I am a depressive too, and haven't had a very happy life, from childhood upwards. Sometimes I wonder if it is all worth the huge struggle of being alive, but one thing that keeps me going is the thought that maybe I can make some difference for the animals, who need it so much. If I ever feel my life is hard, just think how much more they must suffer than I do! Keep up the good work.
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    1. Whitney Metz
      Whitney Metz
      Thank you so much! That mean a lot to me. That is exactly how I feel about it. I think there are very few, if any, humans who can actually understand the pain that farmed animals feel.
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      1. Whitney Metz
        Whitney Metz
        means*
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  3. DC
    Be careful in your journey of these things. 1. Low protein diet has been associated with depression. Have a nutritionist help you with your meal plans. 2. Many people who study psychology do so to understand their own or their family problems (I have a master's in psych. I really do. LOL) 3. Victims of suffering often identify with animals who they perceive as victims. Radicals use this to motivate you to work for them. They do so by telling you that most animals are enslaved and harmed by most people. As a former cruelty investigator, I promise you, this is a lie. Most people are good to non humans and consider them family. 4. The animal rights agenda includes eliminating domesticated animals from earth. This means no cats, no horses and no dogs; not even seeing eye or police dogs. They plan to neuter them until there are no more. It is their belief that domesticated animals were created by humans and that it was wrong of us to do so, especially with the intent to use them to better our own lives. Archeology disproves this fear by finding that dogs and horses and cats evolved to fill a niche living close to humans and our friendships were formed. In any event, be careful with your heart and soul.
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    1. Whitney Metz
      Whitney Metz
      Thank you for your concern, but I think you may have missed the point of this post. 1- I am not on a "low protein diet" I am a vegan much like, I assume, nearly everyone who posts on this site. I eat very healthily, and take excellent care of my body. 2- To some extent, I did become interested in Psychology in order to better understand my own problems, but also to possibly help other people to deal with their problems. I don't see what relevance that has to animal rights though. My concern with non-human suffering is not one of my problems. In fact it is one of the things I like most about myself, and I have no desire to change it. 3- I do identify with animals whether I see them as victims or not, because we are all living, feeling beings and deserve the same respect and consideration. I have no fear of being brainwashed by "radicals" because I am perfectly capable of thinking for myself and making my own decisions about what is right and wrong. If I should ever do anything radical, I assure you it will be of my own volition. Also, I am quite well-informed about the way animals are treated in our society. I have witnessed it for myself on multiple occasions. 4- The fact that you refer to the "animal right agenda" leads me to believe that you don't really understand animal rights activists at all. Our only agenda is to reduce suffering.
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      1. Veganara
        Veganara
        That's an excellent response Whitney! That is exactly the impression I got about DC too, that he/she doesn't really understand vegans or animal rights activists at all. We are not trying to "brainwash" the world, DC - we are the ones trying to show people the truth, to try to stop the terrible suffering and exploitation that goes on. Sad to say, most animals are NOT treated well by humans at all (unless they are domestic pets in a good home) - if only! Farmed animals, animals bred for fur, leather and wool, animals in laboratories, animals in circuses, to name but some - all of these are mere "commodities" and so they routinely endure the most horrific of circumstances and treatment. Have you ever seen the film Earthlings DC? I presume you haven't. Please watch it as soon as possible. That may open your eyes to a few things. We vegans are obviously not perfect, any more than any human is, but we only want the best for animals, other humans and the world. We are not following this cause to profit from it in any way - unlike those who exploit animals. Since THEY profit from them they are the ones with an agenda to brainwash people, wouldn' t you say? You say you have a degree in psychology, so you must be able to see that.
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  4. sarahbou13
    Wow thank you for this post! It really resonated with me. As a vegan and a psychology student myself, I struggle with the need of finding a way of including animal rights in my futur work! Your post really helped me tonight, it made me realize that i'm not alone in this battle, thank you!!
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    1. Whitney Metz
      Whitney Metz
      Thank you so much :) I'm really glad you enjoyed the post, and that it was helpful for you. You are definitely not alone! I haven't written here for a long time, but I have another blog (though not purely vegan related), if you're interested. http://blog.thevolatilevegan.com/
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