Depression is a lying sack of shit asshole.
I think most people know that I love my cat, Kitkat, quite a lot. But I don’t think most people know why.
I took a break from college last September due to something that was eventually diagnosed as a severe case of Major Depressive Disorder (Single Episode). For some reason, after a perfectly happy summer, I started to experience a deep, unfathomable sadness and sense of self-loathing. I was back on campus for the fall semester of my third year of university, and I couldn’t focus. I slept more than I usually did, and I started crying from exhaustion, and sometimes, for no reason. But mostly, it was because of these cyclic thoughts that kept telling me how worthless of a person I was, and seriously, what was the point? Crazy to think about it now but I reacted to this by simply believing that I was feeling burnt out.
I was able to take a year off from school, a leave of absence as they call it. About a month passed with me sleeping in with all the shades drawn. I didn’t see light for several days at a time, and had a hard time doing anything without sobbing for hours (literally hours). One time Matt, my boyfriend, found me in the shower fully clothed and I just remember thinking that I had to get clean. Whatever the compulsion, I’m still not sure what exactly I was thinking.
Eventually, I realized that I had a problem. I was scaring myself and I was scaring Matt. I started seeing a therapist and was put on a steady dose of anti-depressants. Around this time, I also decided to foster a cat that was about to be euthanized (Animal Care and Control centers in NYC run out of room due to the amount of animals they take in every day, and so they have to euthanize animals to make room for the incoming animals). Kitkat was on the list of cats to be euthanized. Matt and I put in a request to foster a cat, and because I knew black cats had a smaller chance of being saved, I picked Kitkat.
I was still mostly apartment-ridden at this point, and Matt was working during the day, which meant that I had to go to the East Harlem AC&C to pick up Kitkat. It gave me a reason to leave the apartment, when most days I stayed shut in. Kitkat came into my life when I was feeling completely worthless, and the realization that even someone worthless like me could take care of an animal meant that maybe I actually wasn’t worthless. Getting food and toys for Kitkat gave me even more reason to leave and re-enter society, at least see sun for 30 minutes a day. Gradually, Kitkat stopped being a shy shelter cat, and has proven himself a funny and cuddly companion. Supporting evidence: his vet said he was “funny and charming” :). Becoming Kitkat’s human has been just as helpful in my convalescence as support from loved ones, yoga, medication, and cognitive therapy.
This post was prompted by the news of Robin Williams’ suicide. RIP.