Thunder shirts for dogs and beyond

I remember when Temple Grandin, autistic author invented the humane cradling system to calm animals being led to slaughter. She had found during her own episodes of panic and collapse, that being restrained in a firm but comfortable hold helped her calm herself.
I was just reading in “Dog Fancy” about the use of such things for dogs and also cats, as well. To treat anxiety during trips in the car or thunderstorms.
In my own life, relevant to my own body, I still recall those awful months that followed my cessation of all medications given me for anxiety, depression, panic and so on. Usually the “experts” felt giving four or five high doses simultaneously, as if to fine-tune the brain and its billions of cells was like going under the hood of an automobile. My body and nervous sytem was in a constant state of upheaval as the kinds and doseages were changed and recombined with each other. I was slowly and carefully weaned off each one, seizures, heart rhythm upset, no sleep for days at a time…my body twitched and muscles rippled up and down my legs and arms of their own accord. My face felt constantly smushed and pulled as if large cement blocks were squashing the bones of my mouth. I did not find help in the medical world. The physicians who’d given me the meds. did not know or did not wish to deal with the consequences. So, ultimately it was up to me to find a way to heal my own body and calm it when agitated. Now I bring up the thunder shirt. At that time in my history, jersey sheets had become an “in” fad. I bought some because the only fabric that I could tolerate against my skin was jersey tee-shirts.
The more twitches, spasms, erroneous sensations, tingling numbnesses traveling up and down my spinal cord, the more anxious I became. It makes perfect sense. I taught myself to roll my body up tightly, as if swaddling, in a stretchy jersey sheet. I ‘d pin my arms inside it and also my legs. Only my toes peeked out. I ‘d lay an herbal eye bag across my eyes, which applied gentle constant pressure to over 40 trigger points in the eye and nose bridge area. I would wait. Slowly my heart would calm down. I would eventually almost but never quite again, lose the awareness of every heart beat. Several hours of lying like this and also at times with my legs elevated, I could calm my body more easily than with any capsule or tablet.
So, let’s hear it for thunder shirts. I’ve lived it. I know it can help with anxiety’s discomfort.
Even now, years after that chapter of my life closed and fades, on a bad night I will get out the stretchy sheet and seek refuge in its tight embrace in the spare bed until it squeezes me to sleep.


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