Cat Momming: Week One

I can officially say that I truly understand the comparison between “furbabies” and human babies now, (as my furbaby sits on my couch and stares at me). While I still don’t think a cat or dog needs the same level of care a baby does or brings with it the same amount of anxiety and stress, I am a cat mom now and I’m happy to say I’ve survived the first week of motherhood. And even more exciting, the rest of my family has too.

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As briefly mentioned last Thursday in the mini post, I brought Danu (dah-noo) home last Monday afternoon and initially it was a bit of a rough adjustment. I was expecting that based on both my reading/research as well as what the shelter manager (and her previous foster mom) told me. I haven’t officially adopted her yet, this was just the start of my trial run and I was (understandably) very nervous. The last thing I wanted was to do the wrong thing or move too quickly or make her hate me.

Thankfully, all of that reading and research and yes, buying two cat advice books, seems to have paid off because less than 72 hours after I’d brought her home she’d allowed me to touch her as well as begun eating and eliminating on a regular schedule, (and thankfully she’s stopped yowling all night long – that’s the really great part). And seven days after I’ve brought her home, it’s starting to feel like she’s always been around. She certainly acts like she has. My couch and computer chair no longer belong to me, my rug is looking more like a scratching post than a rug, (we’re working on using the actual scratching post but no luck so far) and I get very annoyed looks when the Dog’s barking upsets nap time.

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It’s weird because I didn’t actually expect things to go this well. I hoped, oh boy, I hoped. But it’s hard to hope when it feels like everyone in the family is pessimistic and worried that the dog will lose his damn mind over the presence of another animal in the house. Which, he still hasn’t even noticed there’s a cat around. We aren’t sure why other than he’s just gotten used to the smell and because he’s never seen her, he doesn’t actually associate the smell with a real, live cat. Who knows. Whatever the reason he’s not acting like the world is falling apart I’m not going to be the one complaining because this week has been a lot more peaceful than any of us expected I think.

I’ve got some concerns to discuss with the vet/shelter manager about her eating, (after she eats she coughs and hacks and gags and then seems fine but ?? Who really knows and you can’t be too careful with a FIV+ cat) but other than that I think it’s safe to say that’s sunk her claws pretty deep into my heart and it would take a lot for me to decide not to adopt her at this point.

Also, Danu absolutely has the “tortitude” that her coloring is known for, if you were wondering.

Best,

Julie

Mini Post: Cat Initiation 

Look out for a long story version on Monday, but here’s the short of it! I picked up the newest member of my family, Danu, on Monday from the shelter and for the first 60 hours or so didn’t really see much of her. I knew she was eating and eliminating because well, food disappeared and poop appeared but I’m excited to announce that last night Danu decided I was worth investigation and left the safety of behind the tv to come say hi!


Here she is in all her glory. Very much a tortie I think, not so much the dark calico the shelter said. She enjoys pets and isn’t sure about treats or the click noise that comes with them. She is also slowly getting comfortable enough to explore the rest of her new environment and claim it for her own, (she knows who’s in charge here). 

The dog is still completely unaware she exists. 

A Working While Depressed Surival Guide

  1. Make yourself get out of bed and if you can’t do that, (it’s okay if you can’t) find someone who can and ask them to make you. This is something I thankfully don’t have to deal with too often, but I’ve facetimed one of my best friends to “yell” at her to get out of bed and go to work so they didn’t get fired. I’m persistent and it worked. So don’t be afraid to find a persistent friend to do that for you if you need it.
  2. Say no. I know you need the money, I do too. But that money isn’t worth anything if you aren’t here or if taking on a shift on your day off makes you suicidal. Your job will still be there tomorrow, even if you say, “No, I’m busy,” today. Playing a video game, sleeping, or doing whatever else you want is a valid way to spend your day off.
  3. Terrible customers are great storytelling opportunities. Amaze social media, (or your immediate family) with the depravity of humanity. And then when you’ve made them all laugh or gasp, grab some tissues and cry about it to get rid of all that emotional gunk.
  4. Remind yourself you aren’t worthless. Even when it feels like your job is useless and you don’t have any value, remember you’re there for a reason. You wouldn’t have your job if you weren’t providing a good or service that people need.
  5. If you can’t handle a second job immediately after getting your first, (or ever), don’t force it, (unless you absolutely have no other options). You can’t do any job well if you’re too depressed and miserable to function. If you need it, ask for help. Does it make you feel weak and embarrassed? Probably, if you’re anything like me. But it’ll be worth it in the long run.
  6. Give a reasonable level of availability. If you say you can work 24/7, chances are they’re going to give you a wildly inconsistent schedule week by week. If you need 9 hours of sleep at night to function the next day, don’t say you’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You deserve to rest.
  7. Know your limits. If you haven’t gotten a weekend off in two months, request one. You may not even know how much you need it until you have it. You do.
  8. Find out everything you can about your employer’s stance on mental health, (& any other “issue” you may have) and adjust accordingly.
  9. Have an achievable goal that’s related to you needing to keep working. This way, even if your job makes your skin crawl, you still have a reason to go. I am exceptionally privileged because a lot of my bills are paid for by my parents while I live at home. But I have a car payment, grad school savings, college debt, and soon a cat, to worry about. On the days when I want to walk out because the world is so heavy, I can’t because I have needs and goals that make it (mostly) worthwhile.
  10. Do what you need to do to stay alive. For me, this meant petitioning my parents to get a comfort/emotional support animal. For you, it might mean remembering to take your meds or cutting back on harmful/unhealthy coping mechanisms, (still working on that one…) Whatever it is, do it. For yourself, because you deserve to have a full life.

 

all of this should be taken with a grain of salt and a half – at the end of the day, you know you best and you know what you need to do to live your best life, whatever that means. Regardless of that, I wish and hope for the best for all of you.

-Julie

Not Spoons, Not Forks, But Percentages

(7/23/17 — the irony of writing about mental illness is that sometimes you’re too mentally ill to write. And sometimes that means it takes you a solid three months to finish one post).

As I sit down to begin writing this (4/20/17), I’m resting on a solid 12%. A little over two hours ago, I woke up with 45% but in this time I’ve stopped by Starbucks for tea, walked across campus and back again, taken a Latin final, and rescheduled a meeting with my boss. For finals week, this is an average morning. But I do not have an average amount of energy for it, I have less.

When describing the effects of chronic illness to people who don’t experience them, the Spoons theory is the popular go-to. But that was created specifically to describe chronic physical illnesses and so I don’t feel comfortable using it to describe myself, as I’m someone with a relatively healthy body – brain, excluded.

So today, as I walked back from my final, struggling to put one foot in front of the other as my head grew heavier and heavier with the weight of my thoughts and internal exhaustion, I wondered if there was a metaphor just for me, (and people like me). This led me to the Forks Model, which is similar to the spoons theory, but tailored more toward mental illness. While it works and I see a lot of value in it, it still isn’t quite right to describe my experiences.

And then I realized that the way I’ve been thinking about them to myself for years works perfectly. And if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, am I right?


(continued 7/23/17)

If I’m being entirely honest, (which I aim for – especially in my writing) I pretty much never planned to actually finish this. It was a good blog post idea, but then I got tired and when I get tired it’s easier for all the hopeless “you’ll never finish that” thoughts to get in the way. But a few days ago I had a series of conversations with my parents that reiterated why this is so important to talk about.

I have felt like I was drowning ever since I moved back home, got two (2) part time jobs (though I’ve scaled back to one since) and I couldn’t explain that. I just didn’t have the energy or the words. I didn’t know what to do, and I certainly didn’t know to pull myself out of it. But last weekend I got the opportunity to house-sit a few animals, (1 cat, 2 dogs, 10 chickens, and miscellaneous tropical fish). And that reminded me, more aggressively, of how I still want a comfort/therapy animal.

Specifically a cat.

I have always wanted a cat, (I love dogs and cats, yes it’s possible). But considering how anti-cat my family (and my dog) are, I didn’t see that happening. But after last weekend I realized how I was letting something defeat me without even trying to fight for it. So I tried to fight for it. And let me tell you, I spent a good two days crying and exhausted (there went my days off) just trying to get through to my mom and dad that this wasn’t just a whim or a want, this is a need to help improve and balance out my mental state. It’s not a cure-all, but it can definitely be an improvement.

And with that came explaining the percentage system, (very roughly and not in much depth). Even on the days where I start with 100% and don’t do much until I go to work, I can end up at -20% by the time I get home. As much as I love a job that keeps me busy and connects me with people, it is one of the most exhausting things for me to do on top of the already-exhausting job of keeping my mental state in check.

A therapy animal is like a portable charger. It doesn’t necessarily have the juice to get me back to 100%, but it can get me back up there so that I’m functioning and able to take care of not only myself but the animal as well as the people around me.

This post did not turn in to what I expected it to, but I hope that it was helpful regardless of that.

Best wishes, Julie

*taps mic* anyone out there?

Hello all! This is going to be a super quick, bite-sized post. Hi, I’m not dead, I’ve just been very busy readjusting to life at home, as well as working, and (hopefully) soon having a new addition to the family!

No, I’m not pregnant.

That being said, there may be some changes around here/in the direction of the blog, so thanks for sticking around (if you have) to see that happen.

Best – Julie

A Poem (yes I still write them)

To the Straight™ People I Know

When your friend says something offensive
Then offers the insincere half-assed apology
That is the song of your people –
Do not accept it for me
as if your Straight™ feelings could be hurt.

You are not offended for me.
You do not understand my pain.
You do not feel the cut that digs into my soul
and drags my feet from under me,
breath stolen as I am reminded
for the 20th time today
That I am the Other, the Unwanted,
the Victim of my own birth
who you choose to ignore
Or praise or love or belittle
or Allow to Exist.

You do not accept the apology meant for me
with tears and forgiveness.
You.
Do Nothing.
At All.

I alone am the judge, the jury,
the executioner,
of my hurt, my trauma,
my offense.
And you do not speak for me

Yes, it’s another V-Log

This one is from yesterday when I was walking back across campus after class because that was really the only time I had to do anything. It was an interesting experience – very freeing because you really can’t be self-conscious in order to do this. At any rate, here I am, in all my cross-campus-glory! […]

The Brownie Fiasco

In recent history, I have discovered that I do not, in fact, hate brownies – go figure. This is a rare case where I think I might have been off not liking them, (unlike a few months ago when I realized I like green peppers and they really aren’t spicy – aka what my mom has been telling me for as long as I can remember).

Anyway – brownies. Now that I like them, I can’t get enough of them. Which leads to my current issue:

the oven in my hall’s kitchen are incapable of baking brownies. You can ask my best friend if you don’t believe me, but we followed those Betty Crocker box brownie instructions to the LETTER. What came out of that oven were not brownies and it wasn’t edible either. Initially I thought this was a fluke – I’m a good baker, but maybe this was a bad box? Or maybe I hadn’t added enough water? Who knew. At any rate, I tried again a week later, only to get the same result. And this time I had double checked every step so I know I didn’t do anything wrong.

I am left with one explanation and one explanation only: the ovens are out to get me.

Somehow, I will do my best to get by without the brownies until I go home and have access to an oven that doesn’t hate me. In the meantime, I’m lucky to have a best friend who bought me a brownie from Insomnia to eat after the second disaster.

This story doesn’t really have any significance in the grand scheme of things, but I figured I would try and share something funny or fluffy, instead of all the heavy, dark things going on in the world. Those are important too – but there has to be a balance of things.

That being said, good luck to everyone participating in the women’s strike – you are true warriors and I wish you the best. The world would not be the same without you.

Julie

Mental Health/General Update: 2.18.17

Friends;

I am tired. You don’t understand how exhausting it is to be this close to graduation… but not graduated.

“Never-ending” to-do lists of years past have become a joke to me at this point and I really hope that over this break I’ll be able to reorient myself and figure out what all I actually need to get done.

Best wishes to you all, and I hope this semester isn’t kicking all of you down.

-Julie

Currently Reading: February 2017

To be honest, I’m not sure why I haven’t done this before because whether it’s for class or for fun, I’m almost constantly reading something. And if you’ve ever had the opportunity to talk to me about what I’m reading, or books in general, you know that I love to talk about both. In depth. And then give recommendations based on what you like or what I think you might enjoy.

The hazard of being a lit major.

At any rate, I am currently reading three (yes three) novels for class + personal use

1.Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

In their world frivolous liaisons are commonplace, but Anna and Vronsky’s consuming passion makes them a target for scorn and leads to Anna’s increasing isolation. The heartbreaking trajectory of their relationship contrasts sharply with the colorful swirl of friends and family members who surround them, especially the newlyweds Kitty and Levin, who forge a touching bond as they struggle to make a life together. Anna Karenina is a masterpiece not only because of the unforgettable woman at its core and the stark drama of her fate, but also because it explores and illuminates the deepest questions about how to live a fulfilled life.

2.The Sympathizer – Viet Thanh Nguyen

The winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as five other awards, The Sympathizer is the breakthrough novel of the year. With the pace and suspense of a thriller and prose that has been compared to Graham Greene and Saul Bellow, The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal. The narrator, a communist double agent, is a “man of two minds,” a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam. The Sympathizer is a blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping espionage novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship.

3.Everything is Illuminated – Jonathon Safran Foer

Jonathan is a Jewish college student searching Europe for the one person he believes can explain his roots. Alex, a lover of all things American and unsurpassed butcher of the English language, is his lovable Ukrainian guide. On their quixotic quest, the two young men look for Augustine, a woman who might have saved Jonathan’s grandfather from the Nazis. As past and present merge, hysterically funny moments collide with episodes of great tragedy–and an unforgettable story of one family’s extraordinary history unfolds.

[descriptions taken from Goodreads]

Anna Karenina and The Sympathizer are both for my Lit senior seminar class, but Everything is Illuminated is for me, based on a recommendation from someone I know.

Something my mom has always said to me when she knows I’m reading multiple books at the same time is she always questions how I keep them straight. Well, it helps that all three of these books (if you couldn’t tell) are wildly different. But I’m really enjoying all of them and would 100% recommend them to others, based on whether or not they like similar stuff/that kind of writing style.

So, I guess I’ll update you on my progress in a few weeks to a month!

Until my next post,

Julie