How to…

…recover from a nervous breakdown (3!)

Healing Effort No. 3: Kitten Therapy

I should start by introducing my furry therapists; this is little Gustav:

Cat Therapy
Little Gustav

And Noori is his mum but I couldn’t get a picture of her on her own because she’s a little shy so I can only ever catch her when she’s sleeping with her baby:

cat therapy
My Little Floppsy Bunnies
cat therapy
If you want to learn how to relax, learn from some cats

Reason why cats are good for you no. 1 (it’s an unlikely one): You have to clean up their poo. Cleaning up a cat’s bodily functions is a highly distracting task and therefore it brings my thoughts outside of myself. I find depression and anxiety to be relatively selfish illnesses, I’ve been only able focus my thoughts inwards and have been internalising everything – nothing much has existed outside of the internal twisting of my own unbalanced mind – but now I have something that needs cleaning up after, feeding and loving, it has drawn me out of myself. I’m also notoriously terrible at looking after myself, Chris goes away a lot and whilst he’s gone I live off porridge and frozen pizzas or I just don’t eat (he’s the cook of the family) but I’ve found that in looking after these little cats I’m looking after myself better too. When they eat I eat, when I prepare their food I prepare mine. In a way we’re looking after each other.

Reason why cats are good for you no. 2: They are hilarious. Nothing is as funny as watching a kitten get so freaked out by its own tail that it falls off the bed it’s lying on! That sort of thing can’t help but make you happy! Plus they do things silly things like fall asleep on their faces, or on computers instead of nice soft beds:

cat therapy

They are vastly entertaining and oh so easy to love. They have at times been the only thing able to force a smile onto my lips.

Reason why cats are good for you no. 3: They inspire gentleness. I am very hard on myself. My mama always says no one is as hard on me as I am. Lot’s of lovely people have offered the advise of being more gentle with myself in order to facilitate the healing process but it’s hard to break the habit of a lifetime. However, Gustav and Noori require gentle, loving care and I’m finding that the care and affection I bestow on my new wards, has taught me to be a little more gentle with myself too. These lovely things deserve care and cuddles and tickles, so surely I do too (not the tickles – I hate tickles). Plus every good Welsh person knows that the only true healing power in this whole silly world is a really good cwtch – so it’s doing wonders having two furry things around the house that are pretty much always up for one! Plus there is nothing so calming and relaxing as stroking a sleeping cat – unless you’re allergic.

Reason why cats are good for you no. 4: I’m no longer alone! With my fiancé off gallivanting around Asia (okay, working) and with me taking a little time off to try to get back on my feet, I could be very lonely, but all of my days and nights (we practise communal bedtime…that sounds weird) are spent in the company of these two beautiful creatures. Today I just couldn’t catch my breath so I took a propranolol and ran myself a nice relaxing bath. Gustav did some investigation of the water activities and decided he didn’t wanted to actively participate, so he settled himself in the door way and looked at me with his huge eyes, presently Noori came to join him and they both kept me company while I soaked myself calm again. Granted I could do without some of Gusgus’ knitting help but I can’t deny that it is a) vastly entertaining and b) ridiculously cute.

cat therapy
I was knitting a hat on circular needles and he popped up through the middle!

So you could sum up my advise thus far on coping with mental illness in three words; medication, therapy and CATS!

cat therapy
Writing desk cuddles

Next week: the benefits of exercise and fresh air – even when reaching for your front door handle makes you change your mind and reach for the beta blockers instead.

Click here and here to see the previous two blogs in this series.

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