Your mood can have a huge effect on your health and vice-versa. This is why depression is such a huge deal and should really have more focus in our health care.
Luckily, I have a kitten in my life, and I must say it’s had a huge impact on my depression. No, I’m not even kidding.
Just look at her.
And while she is still on the destructive side of life, she’s also incredibly loving. I haven’t blogged much here about my journey through PCOS and infertility. I am seeing a specialist about it and a lot has happened, but I’m not quite ready to write it all out here yet. I’d rather wait till everything is said and done because it’s really just a long series of cliffhangers. What I will say is that I was getting pretty depressed. I really want to have kids, and the more treatments that have failed, the more life seemed empty. Each day turned in to a day I could be experiencing with my kids, and everything seemed hopelessly pointless without my non-existent children. And that is pretty much the most pathetic, #firstworldproblems reason for being depressed, isn’t it?
And of course there were other things. I was hurting a lot and even landed in the emergency room less than a year after my last surgery meant to reduce pain levels. On top of that I transitioned from full time work to freelance work. That in and of itself is a step I had been planning to make eventually to transition in to life at home as a mom, but being forced to make it has been difficult. We weren’t really prepared for the jump financially, and while I enjoy having more time at home to write, it’s easy to get depressed when one is home alone all day. It’s also somewhat distressing to loose your routine. I’m the kind of person that really needs that sort of structure in my life.
But I’ve already written about my low point and the miraculous appearance of a kitten in my backyard. I love that little ball of fun and chaos. You really can’t help but cheer up a bit when you’re cuddling a kitten.
All the waiting and uncertainty has been so much more peaceful with a kitten around. And it’s not just her, I should give credit where it’s due. My older cat, Mimi, and of course my dog Dudley have done their share of cheering mama up. I really really want to just pour out words here about how indispensable pets are, because Scrubs had it right – sometimes we need kittens, STAT!
“What saved me was my dog jumped into my lap. I thought, “No one will take care of him.” It wasn’t a friendly dog—only to me. I adored this dog. He was theoretically a Yorkie, his mother cheated. His name was Spike. He was the way you want your dog to be, devoted only to you. I was sitting in this big empty house in Bel Air, with a phone with five extensions which we no longer needed. I had the gun in my lap, and the dog sat on the gun. I lecture on suicide because things turn around. I tell people this is a horrible, awful dark moment, but it will change and you must know it’s going to change and you push forward.”
If you don’t have a pet and you’re dealing with chronic illness or depression or both – I strongly suggest finding one. Even a fish can be a lively companion – my mom’s goldfish, Brittany, has not only lived longer than I really believed fish could, but she’s genuinely happy when someone walks up to her bowl. She dances around and blows bubbles for you.
No matter how big or small, everyone needs a pet. Go to your local shelter, they have the best dogs and cats but mine even has birds and mice and snakes.
Even if your pet isn’t what you always dreamed of, they can still be a huge force of love in your life. When you adopt a pet, you make a commitment to them. You say welcome to the family, I’m going to take care of you no matter what. You can eat my shoes or poop everywhere but I’m not going to abandon you because you aren’t perfect. We’re in this together, ya know?
Case in point: Carl. Carl was a little dachshund my mom was “fostering” but it quickly became apparent that we were never going to find a home for him because he was horrible. He would poop in the house if you didn’t walk him around the block – just going outside wasn’t enough. He smelled bad all the time and any pillow or blanket he sat on would retain his stink through numerous washings. Even with frequent trips to the vet for anal gland milking – bet you coulda gone your whole life without learning that THAT’S a thing – he still always smelled horrible. And while he would tolerate my parent’s other dogs, he was the meanest thing you ever saw if we ran in to other dogs at the park or on the street. He did like to give kisses, but usually only inside your mouth when you yawned unsuspectingly. Carl was a family joke. He was the world’s worst dog.
Then, recently, Carl died. And we didn’t know what to do with all our unexpected feelings. We were genuinely sad and actually missed him. He was such a character. All the things we hated about him were, in a weird way, things we loved about him. Just before he died, he had gotten very sick. We brought him to the park for one last outing and even though he didn’t have the strength to walk, he rallied enough energy to growl at the other dogs, as if to say “I will kill you with my last breath!” And….it was kind of endearing.
So I don’t really have any sort of epic story of Carl sitting on a gun in my lap and saving me from suicide, but… I can’t count how many times he made me laugh. And I can’t explain to you how sad I was to loose him.
Long story short – go get a pet. It’ll change you in ways you’d never expect. It’ll add so much to your life. I seriously don’t know how anyone can live without animals.
Especially if you’re sick or depressed – YOU NEED KITTENS, STAT. They’re cuter and cheaper than drugs and therapy.
As I’ve been writing, my kitten has given me a kneady massage on my legs, climbed into my lap to watch the letters line up as I type, and made cute little trill noises like a cross between a purr and a meow. So I’m gonna go rub my face all over her now because she’s too cute to resist.
If you don’t believe me, go to your local shelter with no intent to adopt and just go and pet a cat or a dog. Throw a ball for the dogs, dangle strings in front of the cats, whatever you want – and I guarantee your day will be better than if you hadn’t.