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Therapy Bun: Rabbits and PTSD

Contributed by Kiley McNeill

About 7-8% of Americans will be diagnosed with PTSD, 5.2 million people will be diagnosed with PTSD in any given year, and 10% of all women are diagnosed with PTSD compared to the 5% of men. I happen to be one of those statistics.

I have had issues with anxiety my whole life, but after a series of traumatic events took place my life began to fall apart. My daily routines went from focusing on getting to class, studying, doing my homework, and hanging out with my friends to wondering if I will be safe when I leave my apartment, will I be safe walking to my car after class, and wondering who I can and can’t trust. If anyone yelled or acted aggressively, even if they weren’t being serious, I would have a panic attach.

I couldn’t watch shows on TV like Bones, The Killing, The Following, or even the news because the violence triggered my PTSD. My insomnia grew worse as I woke up multiple times a night covered in sweat and tangled in my sheets from nightmares. I couldn’t handle the fear, anxiety, panic, depression, and I needed help. I needed someone to understand me and tell me that everything was going to be okay, that I was safe, and that I was loved.

After quite a bit of research I decided to get a dog to help me with my PTSD. I soon came to realize that I simply couldn’t afford one, and I didn’t have the time to take a dog out to “do his business” and I didn’t have enough room in my 900 square foot apartment that I shared with four other people. To cheer me up my parents decided to buy me a rabbit from Pet Supermarket. There was only one left that (for some reason) no one wanted. As soon as I held her I knew that she was mine, and that I loved her. Shortly after bringing her home I named her Bolin.

When my parents bought Bolin for me I assumed that a rabbit was like a large gerbil and required a minimum amount of effort. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Bolin showed me that she was smart enough to unlock her cage (I actually tried locking it shut, and to this day I have no idea how she unlocked her cage door), she recognized my voice, understood hand signals, and even began to understand my emotions. To me Bolin was smarter than any dog.

Bolin picked up on my moods really quickly and soon began to respond to my PTSD all on her own. When I felt a panic attack coming on Bolin would jump onto me, climb all over me, lick my face, and go nuts. It was like she couldn’t stand seeing me upset. For some reason her little spaz attack brought my panic level down, and she became the only thing capable of preventing, and bringing me out of, a panic attack.

Often I felt depressed and Bolin began to respond to that too. Bolin would crawl under the covers of my bed and snuggle with me, only popping her head out of the sheets to lick my face. I felt as if she were saying to me that everything will be okay, and that she loved me unconditionally.

Months later I had experienced another traumatic event which sent me to spiraling into depression, fear, and panic all over again. I could barely leave my apartment, let alone my room, without feeling paranoid. Because of this I attended class less and less and my grades went down to the point that I failed two of my classes. In my mind I was a complete failure, I was broken, and hope was nonexistent. I wanted it to end so badly that I was willing to do anything to make it all stop.

Then I came out of my room, and Bolin ran up to me. She could tell I was hurting and was shaking the bars of her pen to get out. I stuck my fingers through the bars and she gave me what seemed like a million bunny kisses. She loved me. She needed me. And I felt the same way for her. In that moment I knew I had to keep going and force myself to get back on my feet because she needed me to. I could see in her eyes that she hurt when I hurt and I couldn’t do that to her anymore. So I let her out, I let her climb all over me yet again, and I held her. I promised her and myself that I would keep going, and to this day I know that if it weren’t for Bolins’ love I wouldn’t be writing this article. That little bunny saved me.

Shortly after I went to the counseling center at the university I go to, and today I regularly attend therapy. Bolin keeps me motivated to continue to put in the effort to get better, and now my life has a much brighter outlook thanks to my little bun bun Bolin.



Note:  The above article was submitted by a guest author.  All articles written by guest authors do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of

  1. Monica Monica

    I also suffer from panic attacks, depression, and PTSD after experiencing traumatic events in my life two years ago. Your story really touched my heart. I love rabbits and always have. I had a house rabbit many years ago and I know just how special and smart they are, very social, loving animals that rarely receive the credit they deserve. Thank you for sharing your story as it has helped me greatly knowing there is hope beyond the pain and suffering. I no longer have a house bun, after my special Bernie passed, no other bun could ever replace her warm love and oh those wonderful bunny kisses. I do have a cat now and she helps me greatly too. May God bless you!

  2. I believe wholly that bunnies have amazing love. When I was is a terrible car wreck in November and house bound due to it, my little dwarf, Bean, was about the only reason I left my bed most days.

    They love hard and loyal,

  3. Melissa Melissa

    Thank you for sharing that wonderful story! God bless you and your little “angel”, Bolin 🙂

  4. Kelly Kelly

    Loved this. Bunnies help so much.

  5. Megan Megan

    My Magnus ended up being my PTSD buddy as well. I got him after a series of traumatic events. He’s truly changed my life.

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