Mental health has been a very big topic in the media these days. So I thought I would take some time to tell the story on how I got my cat… I promise the two are connected.
I normally don’t talk about the struggles I’ve experienced when it comes to anxiety and my own mental health out of choice- it’s something that I have preferred to keep more intimate among my close friends and family and this has been great for me for my own growth. It seems like everyone does something a little different – and this has worked well for me.
I decided to write today in respect to our recent fallen soldiers; people who on the outside look to have everything going for them but on the inside they are struggling. Although I am fortunate to have never had those extreme thoughts I know without the awareness I had of myself and how I was feeling- and having the will power to figure out and fight to change it before it consumed more of me this could be a very different story.
This story is an easy one: How I got my cat Princess Peach. If you follow me on Instagram (@creatingwithnicole) you will notice a trend in my posts. Cats, cakes, and other random things here and there. The focal point of most days in my fuzzy orange princess.
Before she came into my life I had taken some great lifestyle leaps, at the age of 21 I had just purchased my first house, was getting settled into my full time job and responsibilities, and there was a boy in the mix there somewhere. It seemed like everything had come together very well but the pressures of utility bills, mortgages, and the demands of my workplace were not weighing lightly on my shoulders. Sudden outbreaks were becoming more frequent, and even though everything was great on the outside I felt like things were falling apart around me.
I consulted my family doctor who was able to prescribe me some help for some of the physical symptoms but at that time considering she’d known me since I was 2 with no previous symptoms of anxiety we left it at that. At this point I didn’t consider that to be what was wrong with me anyways- no one around me in my immediate friends and family had ever gone through something like this to recognize the symptoms (to my knowledge).
It was actually a concerned manager that brought the idea up to me, he saw me shuffling through the multiple prescriptions I had just received trying to get it sorted for our pharmacist, I admitted to him that I seemed to be struggling with coping with stress. He mentioned to me that I may benefit from speaking to the free counselling service that our company provided- was very compassionate about it and admitted there was a time that he had felt overwhelmed with life in general and just talking it out with a professional really helped. At first I was hesitant of the idea of talking to a stranger, but after some thought I figured it couldn’t hurt.
I called the number he gave me, nervous as all heck and crying the entire time during the initial interview while they assessed what would help me but I got through it and somehow the woman on the phone understood my blubbering. I just simply told her that I was having a hard time coping with… things. I didn’t really know how else to describe it.
It was decided I may benefit from a couple of sessions with a psychologist over the phone- local guy home based in .. Windsor NS I think? I remember when I got that first call, I was so nervous I almost didn’t pick up- but I reminded myself why I was doing this and the drive to find a solution to these foreign symptoms was stronger than the anxiety telling me to ignore the call and go back to bed.
The first session went as well as the assessment, so much crying… I really should have bought shares in Kleenex looking back. But after some studdered chat he just started asking me questions about things that didn’t set me off into a nervous wreck. He asked: “What’s something you want more than anything in the world?” I gave it some thought and answered “a cat” I had grown up with our family cat Cupcake almost my whole life- certainly every memory I could recall she was always there- got her when I was 2-3 and she lived to the amazing age of 20. So when I moved out, naturally I had to leave her behind because as her age (18-19 at the time) moving her with me wasn’t really an option. Since the majority of my life I’d had a furry buddy it was very noticeable that it was now missing from my life, I had debated getting myself a little kitty but my parents were deterring me, and the gentleman I was seeing was allergic to cats quite badly so it just didn’t seem like the right time.
When I responded to his question with “a cat” he responded with “really? Get a cat.” I was floored by his response, just so firm it just threw me right off. He continued to explain: “when I ask that questions people usually say something impossible or that doesn’t exist like a unicorn; a cat is a very reasonable desire. Go get yourself a cat!” Well this was the first person I had encountered that encouraged me and honestly that was all I really needed, I ended it with the gent I was seeing (it was obviously not that serious) and I started looking for my little buddy.
Naturally headed to the shelters first but unfortunately didn’t connect with any of the beautiful kitties there. Not long after starting my search a friend of a friend had a litter of kittens they were hoping to find good homes for. 4 kittens, 3 black and white, 1 orange and the orange one was female. Come to find out orange female cats are not very common… And come with interesting personalities. This was my girl.
I took her home and got her comfy. It wasn’t too long before she started warming up to me. I struggled with the name for about 3-4 days but it was right around the time the royal family had their first child so I was set on her being a princess. After playing with lots of different options Princess Peach just worked and it supported my nerdy side flawlessly.
Getting her was a small thing and it certainly did not cure me by any means. There was many more years of hard work to get to where I am today, but there is nothing better than having her to come home to every night- if I had a rough day and couldn’t do anything but lie down on the couch she’d be right there with me. We grew together and after 5 years she’s a huge part of my world and will be for a long time.
She was not the cure to the new found anxiety in my life but she certainly helped make everything worth it and was a huge encouragement to better myself so I could give her a better life (I work hard to give my cat a better life) that quote is words to live by.
So that’s how I got my cat, I spoke to the psychologist a couple of more times over the phone but I did not find it benefitted me enough to continue on. I was grateful for the sessions but decided to go another route, however I am incredibly grateful for those sessions because it really was the roots to my growth and getting my girl.
I’m not saying getting a cat will fix all your life’s problems but having her in my life really set me on a good path to make a healthy and happy lifestyle. Everyone copes with their struggles differently but I found great progress in having my furry fuzz butt by my side, she gave me a reason to grow.