Thursday, May 3, 2012

Depression-taking hostages

Holly on the fridge
They say depression can leak out to family members, much like the way it's noticed that female college roomates often synchronize periods.

It makes total sense, if you are around someone who is sad and depressed you try to cheer them up. You do everything you can in your bag of tricks. When nothing works, and your loved one/friend/family member is the same or worse, it wears you down.

Next thing you know you are falling into sadness/depression as well.

It's like a cold. Sneeze on me, and I get the sniffles too.

During the last bought I went through, I noticed something strange. My beloved cat, Holly, stopped eating. I would make myself get out of bed every morning, feed her, change her water bowl, clean her litter box. We would spend days together lying in bed, she being cuddled up against my tummy or my leg and I can hear her purr.

She never stopped purring. But on day two of not eating, I knew something was wrong. Holly is like the infamous Garfield- I have never known her not to pass up a meal. Especially if I can coax her to eat a can of Fancy Feast tuna or other fish flavor.

She wouldn't eat. She continued to drink, but wouldn't eat. And I in my malaise, didn't notice it as much as I should have til about day five. I went to pick her up and she felt lighter. I continued to coax her to eat, a bite here, a bit there. In my sadness, I thought she was OK.

Then came the meows and howls at 3 am. It was the worst case of caterwauling I've ever heard, short of a female cat in heat. I would pick her up, cuddle her, hold her, sing to her. The noise stopped but I noticed she was spending more and more time in bed with me, asleep, and less time doing the cat things that made up her daily routine.

To make a long story short, I finally took her to the vet. After some lengthy tests, it was determined that Holly has a hyperthyroid, and will have to be pilled for the rest of her life.

I felt like I had just been kicked in my stomach, and had the air knocked out of me. Did I cause her to get sick?

I know I didn't but I feel like I am responsible. If only I hadn't suffered from melancholy, I wouldn't have a sick kitty.

For those who have had the fortune to have an animal in their lives, these miracles on paws really creep into your heart. They become a member of your family. You love them more than some of your family members. They are your best friend. When they are feeling under the weather, you ache because you can't talk to them and ask them what is going on.

I've seen countless studies how owning a dog or a cat removes stress, creates happiness. Watching a tail thump is pure happiness. Having someone to come home to, especially if you live by yourself, is a wonderful thing. You don't feel lonely. And so on.

I know that pets sometimes take on their owners personalities. By this last depression, I created a depressed cat. I didn't mean to. I had to work extra hard to get out of that dark place, if not for myself, for the cat. I owed her that much when I adopted her and promised her a good life.

Wouldn't you do that for your best friend?


David Stein said...

Together, both you and Holly will fight through the darkness, just as Domino and I will keep fighting too. Nothing will ever stop you from helping Holly, just as Holly will never stop helping you. The biggest positive is the fact that you were able to break through the depression and take Holly to the vet. Both you and Holly worked together, and although Holly will be on pills the rest of her life, you were able to help her, even though you were struggling. Together the two of you can accomplish anything and I know Holly get through this because she has an amazing mother!!!

I know what you mean by pets taking on their owner's personalities- domino has ocd tendencies, he does the exact same thing everyday at the exact same time. There are other things he does, but it's evident that he has taken on some of my personality.

Domino and I send our love :)

Marie said...

So sorry to hear that about your cat.

I'm currently in a deep depression and for the last few days my cat never leaves my side. She follows me everywhere and when I go to lie down she jumps on the bed with me. She also stares deeply into my eyes as if to say 'what's wrong?' I just hope I'm not making her depressed too.

Animals are very sensitive to our emotions but please don't blame yourself for your cat's condition. I'm sure you'll take good care of her.

I've only had my cat since last July but we are so close. We bonded immediately. Having a pet in your life is one of the greatest gifts.

Astral Samurai said...

I was starting to wonder why Holly wasn't posting on her blog!

I wasn't even aware cats could get thyroid disorders.

I miss my boys may they rest in peace.

Heres to you and Holly getting better!

-Astral Samurai

Astral Samurai said...

I was starting to wonder why Holly wasn't posting on her blog!

I wasn't even aware cats could get thyroid disorders.

I miss my boys may they rest in peace.

Heres to you and Holly getting better!

-Astral Samurai

Noch Noch said...

that's so weird. i got a puppy last year coz they said it could help with my depression, and having to walk my puppy meant i had to get out of hte house and had a sense of mission somehow. she's great but sometimes she lounges around and won't move when i'm a couch potato too. perhaps its' the vibe I give off too

susan said...

@Dave and Domino-

It does seem like such a small thing I took the cat to the vet. But it was overwhelming, to change out of my sweats, put on clean clothes, fix hair, get the cat in the carrier, it was a Herculean task. But I had to do it. She's my best friend.

@ Hi Marie! My cat is elderly, her thyroid is wonky and they are trying to fix it with pills and diet. She's an elderly kitty. That is most of the problems. I agree with you having a pet in your life is a great gift. I think they form some kind of wonderful bond with us, and know as better than we know ourselves.

I am very blessed to have had two cats in my life, one now at the rainbow bridge and one very spoiled kitty now.

susan said...

@Astral- I didn't realize your boys went to the Rainbow Bridge- I'm so very sorry. Holly hasn't been blogging much because she's been taking care of me while I've been under the weather.

Will there be another cat in your future"?"

@Noch Noch, A puppy! Yay! I love puppies! Maybe the puppy is picking up on your couch potato drive, but maybe the puppy is just acting like that so you can spoil it rotten and love it. I'm so glad you have an animal. ;) They also work as muses, if you ever get writer's block.....

Astral Samurai said...

Well I am not sure really.
It is too soon right now anyway.
I don't think I am ready for the responsibility of having a new friend if I cannot always be there. :/

Only time will tell!

-Astral Samurai

P.S. Sorry about the double-post!

Angela said...

I hope Holly is feeling much better. I don't believe you made her sick; I believe that's the depression talking. Sending you both love and healing.

Anonymous said...

I had exactly the same experience with my cat Penny, who ended up hyperthyroid. Strangely I also ended up hyperthyroid and I found it hard not to beat myself up. I don't know how we both ended up with the same condition but I am just grateful for her love for me. She had also taken on some of my anxiety around others but was completely relaxed around me. I don't undersand it, but I know she helped me in so many ways. Unfortunately she has recently died (of another issue) but I know she love me so much and that's what matters. If she became those medical conditions for me, she did it because she loved me.

Josh Barron said...

Depression can be a really bothersome state especially for those like me who suffers from bipolar disorder. At first, I really put my relationships at a bad place. But when I learned what to really do based on the bipolar disorder test results I got, I'm really feeling a lot better. Though I still get depressed, I know a few things to still keep my head up.

jack foley said...

So true, whatever you hang around - you will become. If you cant help a family member, seek outside help but above all make a concerted effoert to get around positive people when you are helping a family member with depression

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