Victoria’s Story: Animals are my entire world

VICTORIA

Victoria 1

ANIMALS ARE MY ENTIRE WORLD

MY MOTIVATIONS CHANGED

Victoria 2

As a vet student, it probably goes without saying that animals are my entire world, but perhaps not for the reasons you’d think! 

I’ve wanted to be a vet for as long as I can remember, and certainly back then my reasons were most likely to do with liking the idea of spending my time nosing on other people’s farms and seeing to their cows and sheep. However, somewhere along my journey, my motivations changed.

CONSTANT SOURCE OF COMFORT

Now, following a long string of work experience and a little more life experience, I understand how important animals are to so many people and am constantly amazed by the unique role they play in the happiness of humans. So, if someone were to ask me now why I want to be a vet, I wouldn’t be making something up or stuttering on ‘erm…I don’t know’ anymore.

Animals are a constant source of comfort and strength, whether that be as a loving fur friend, or in the context of livestock, provide a lifestyle that may be hard work and unsociable, but is one that so many people are defined by, and I never find it hard to motivate myself to help people keep the animals that mean so much to them.

FEELING AT HOME

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As a child, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time on my grandparents’ small holding, where my Grandad taught me almost everything I know about looking after sheep, which remain my favourite animals to work with. I learned to feed lambs, feed sheep, get them into the shed, carry lambs so the mothers would follow and so on, but the most striking thing I learned was that I never felt more at home than when I was surrounded by animals.

KEEP PLODDING ON 

As my love and understanding of animals grew, so did my motivations to train as a veterinary surgeon, so you can imagine how happy I was to end up here at the University of Liverpool on their Veterinary Science course. I am truly thankful every day that I got the opportunity to train, but that doesn’t mean that vet school has been a smooth road! Of course there’s the obvious, such as exam stress (I HATE exams!!), deadline stress, and the stress you get just trying to keep on top of lectures, but there’s also tiredness, being away from home (especially when you’re ill- it’s awful being away from familiarities and feeling on your own!), and pressures like finance that most of us have never had to deal with before.

Sometimes, the stress gets too much and you wonder why you bother; but then Easter comes around and you get to go home and do work experience placements, usually on a lambing farm in first and second year. For me, just a couple of hours on a farm is more than enough to remind me why I wanted to do this in the first place and helps me keep plodding on, even when the workload seems way too heavy for me.

A WHOLE NEW SENSE OF PURPOSE 

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One farm in particular has become a huge part of my world, and that’s an arable, dairy and sheep farm up in the North East of England. As I said, vet school is great but is definitely not always plain sailing, and I have faced many challenges since coming to Liverpool: adapting to being in a city, feeling inadequate, and sometimes feeling just out of place and useless in surroundings that just don’t seem quite as much like ‘home’.

I was struggling most in my second year at uni, which is when this farm took me in. Suddenly, I felt like I had found something I was good at (milking cows and lambing sheep) and this kick started my motivation and gave me a whole new sense of purpose. Even when I’m doing okay, this place brightens up my day in a way that nothing else seems to. I have learned so much from spending time on this farm and love the place and the people very dearly.

ANIMALS ARE MY WORLD

In short, animals are my world and I truly believe it’s the same for a very large proportion of people in the world. Being a vet and a farmer has become a massive part of my personality and makes me who I am: I may be looked down on for having dirty hands, I may be called hypocritical for ‘loving animals but still working on farms where they are bred for food’, I may be told I’m not clever enough and I can’t do it, but at the end of the day, I was made to be a vet and my love of animals will not let me fail.

VICTORIA

Blog: https://barkingmadvet.video.blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Barking-Mad-592686627844164/

Animals for academic anxiety

ANIMALS FOR ACADEMIC ANXIETY

MY STORY

From the beginning of primary school, or I have been told as far back as nursery, I had difficulties settling in. Every task I completed had to be a replica of the image I created in my head. So, imagine the dread and anxiety little Heidi experienced when she was faced with tests at the young age of 7.

Over the years, I have developed a phobia of exams. Stemmed from low self-esteem and a fear of failure, failure being anything below 100%. Studying became obsessive and compulsive, if I did not complete 12 hours a day then I was a nervous wreck. Ironically, for the past three years, even attempting exams sent my brain into complete meltdown and crisis mode. Believing that a life of 99% results is a life not worth living.

The reality of rigorously controlling something is that it takes a three hundred and sixty degrees turn before beginning to control you. Society deems a 24 hour scheduled life as perfection, I know first-hand how rigid thinking and the need for productivity is in fact a hindrance. Let us praise the “go with the flow” attitude in academia, and those learning through exam mock failures. This is how we must face difficulties in life, rather than working so intensely to avoid the what-ifs.

Only after hypnotherapy and animal therapy can I even say the word EXAM, so now I can shout EXAMS at the top of my voice without fear of irrational curses that will doom me to failure.

I am not lagging behind my high school class, I am on Heidi’s academic journey. The Heidi journey has been full of adventures and life lessons along the way, it is only beginning.

Facing academic anxiety head-on is a huge leap forward on my journey. This journey will change my life, not because of grades that I will achieve or how many hours of work experience I will clock up.
I am escaping from that rat race.

“Once we face our fear, once we treat our anxiety itself as a thing, we can then choose otherwise. Instead of filling the unknown in our minds with expectations of the tragic, we can choose to fill the void with a different expectation – the expectation of adventure.”

ANIMALS ALLEVIATE ANXIETY 

Hypnotherapy is not an option for everyone, I am fortunate to be receptive to this form of therapy. However, animals have the ability to put us in a state of relaxation, they are hypnotherapists in their own right. Animals also help us to eradicate unnecessary anxiety and negative emotions, because remaining calm improve our focus and concentration on the task at hand.

So here are 3 ways that animals alleviate exam anxiety. 

1. SELF CARE

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Other how-to-overcome-exam-anxiety posts will tell you to have a quality sleep, to eat wholesome and nutritious brain food, to take regular breaks outside.

I understand just how difficult this can be, especially when your self-worth has hit rock bottom. This is where animals can help:
Care for your pet whilst caring for yourself.

You are your dog’s world. You feed them, you take them to the toilet, you make their tail wags. With any animal we have responsibilities away from the tasks that are gluing us to our books.

They encourage us to get outside and take a wander in the great outdoors. I shared the benefits of the outdoors here

2. THE BEST STUDY BUDDIES

Get yourself a furry study-buddy. (Hopefully your dog won’t eat your homework).

During a particularly difficult depressive episode, a litter of puppies literally saved my life. I was reassured that everything had happened for a reason, that Esme the pup was sent to be my companion.

After sneaking Esme upstairs in my dressing gown, she would sit in my knee whilst I studied in bed. Easing the overwhelming fears of studying and exams, when life was already pretty much unbearable, my little pup was the best buddy. 

They divert our attention from the never-ending spiral of worry. From feeling uneasy and anxious, our study buddies help us feel calm and concentrated. 

3. ALTERNATIVE ACHIEVEMENTS

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“Caring for animals gives you a sense of achievement that is not a graded % or measured in kilograms, but wagging tails and kisses.” – my ANIMALS ARE MY THERAPY post.

Check out my “Animals are my therapy” post to read how animals helped my self-esteem, in more detail. 

Animals continue to motivate me on my journey, to overcome the obstacles with pride, and to shout it from the rooftop so that other people can benefit too.

Heidi x

Put your wellies on

I often recognise that animals provide us with the key to unlock our front door on the days the all-consuming demoralising cloud of depression would leave us feeling trapped. Our four-legged companions can remove the barrier of fog in our minds, and lead us to the great outdoors.
Animals are my therapy.

Many of the benefits of animal therapy stem from the healing powers of being outside.

The outdoors are also my therapy.

So, what do I gain from the outdoors?

1. GRATITUDE

I cannot measure the profound feeling I experience when hiking in the Swiss mountains. Instead of attempting to quantify my success and productivity, I wholeheartedly appreciate the little things in life when enchanted by nature. The things that are free of charge from sunrise to sunrise. 

We are surrounded by it, and is not a fleeting time period of our life. It’s an escape, a refuge, a safe haven. Imagine nature as the secure foundation of our lives, strip back everything else, and you can continue to experience gratitude for being alive.

2. MINDFULNESS

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When the extra things in life can feel overwhelming, the basic foundations of nature ground us. You can simply “be”, surrounded by sights that make you grateful for the life you live. Stop and be captivated, there is no experience likewise. 

Mindfulness involves the other 4 senses too. Allow yourself to touch, taste, hear, smell, and see the natural environments without judgement.

Slow down. Switch off of your inner critic. Sense the wonders of life.

3. STRESS RELIEF

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Nature provides an easy escape from the academic rat race. The change of scenery from four walls and a pile of revision, to picturesque open spaces is an immense stress reliever.

The outdoors offer a chance to gain practical skills, to add another string to your bow whilst learning outdoors. Sequentially, this reduces the stake and mental intensity of textbook learning. 

4. EXPLORATION

Whilst others are being sheep, be the goat that takes the mountain sides.

Whether the outdoor offers you increased spontaneity is in the form of taking your muddy dog on a new route, or hiking in the sweltering heat abroad, always be a goat.

It is easy to be tempted to go off track, to explore new areas, to meet new people. 

Why is the outdoors therapy to you?