“Appropriate Behaviour” — Basic Capitalism in My Formative Years

I don’t know exactly what caused me to have an anxiety disorder. During my therapy sessions I elected to manage my mental health as opposed to find out where the darn mess came from.

On some days I speculate, and one of my theories is that it’s because I gained an understanding of how the world works during my formative years, only to be chastised for it. Then, after emerging into the adult world to see that it’s exactly how I thought it was, I get subconscious flashbacks to being told off for behaving like most adults.

Let me illustrate an example for you, using the power of my words and your imagination.

I’ve always been a shy kid. One who’s happy to live in his own world, but who still craves the attention of others like the rest of the damn species. After I started secondary school (age 11 for international reference) I didn’t really find confidence among my peers until I started selling chocolate bars on the school yard before and after classes.

A large supermarket chain, that rhymes with alfresco, built a store directly opposite my place of education. This meant that before school began I could go over to the store and buy ten multipacks of chocolate (candy) bars, in order to resell for a tasty profit.

It’s the classic get-rich-quick scheme for any twelve-year-old smart enough to use birthday money as investment capital.

Due to the multipacks of chocolate being so much cheaper than buying the bars individually (as low as 20p per bar), I could always sell them to my classmates for less than the price of an individually sold unit. Yeah, that’s right, I know the lingo.

Now, anyone who has ever bought a multipack of anything that’s individually wrapped will know that the external packaging has “Not Suitable For Resale” printed in big black letters on the wrapper. And had this been the reason for the shutting down of my hustle, I may have understood.

I began taking requests for specific items, and I would always oblige (providing that item was available in a multipack, if not you can sling your hook Mikey).

For months I enjoyed making a tidy 50% profit on most items, and subsequently saved that money for bigger ticket purchases in my own life — Video games, CDs, a mini fridge; The classics.

The cashiers at Tesco — I MEAN, thing that rhymes with… never mind. The statute of limitations must’ve expired here.

Well, the cashiers started to become a little suspicious, asking a question here and there. I would cover my tracks by saying that my pals gave me money before school and I do a solo run for all of our personal snacks that day.

“Well that’s an awful lot of chocolate bars.”

“I have a lot of friends.”

They’d always laugh at that one, which in hindsight I assume was because of my sickly/nerdy demeanour. Either way, it got me out of the situation and I was free to go about my morning business.

Eventually I started branching out into drinks, particularly as the warm weather started to hit. This meant I had to invest some of my profits into a new backpack, but it was worth it for the increased sales overall.

This little scheme helped me to interact with people outside of my friend group, as well as quickly perform basic maths. It also allowed me to develop my entrepreneurial spirit, which is a key talent to posses in a capitalist society.

I knew at heart that I was cheating the system, by purchasing items in bulk and reselling them as individuals, but even by age twelve I was aware of lying, cheating, corrupt politicians and businessmen. As far as I knew, I was just playing the game of life.

One morning, whilst carrying my two backpacks and one tote-bag worth of goodies, I was pulled aside by my form tutor for a chat. I felt like an unworthy kid at the chocolate factory, called out by Willy Wonka as I protested innocence, only for candy to spill from every available pocket.

homerbadman

See, I’d always been really careful to make sales between classes, so that teachers wouldn’t be disturbed by my transactions. Sure, I’d cut verbal deals in the middle of Maths if the sale were big enough. But no money or goods would ever change hands — The classroom is a place for learning.

So I was surprised to be pulled aside one morning and be told to stop selling chocolate bars. It was that damn cashier, I just knew it. She didn’t know my name, but she must’ve said something to the school about a sickly/nerdy looking kid, and all the teachers rushed to me for some reason…

I asked why I wasn’t allowed to do it anymore, and I wasn’t given a suitable answer. As I mentioned above, if the multipack legality issue had been brought into the conversation, then I would’ve held my hands up and surrendered my candied wares.

However, I was simply told that I couldn’t, because “it’s not appropriate”, and as a child I took this as gospel. The entire world seemed to be hustling to get by, but I guess if an authority figure tells me that it’s not the done thing, then I should probably stop.

I asked my form tutor how he’d found out about my schemes, and he said that another pupil had brought it to his attention. To this day I still have no idea who grassed me up, but something tells me it was the other kid who had been trying to start a rival business for weeks beforehand, to little success.

Low and behold, the second I close my metaphorical doors of business, he swoops in and collects all my old customers. This included a habitual snacker, who would regularly drop £5 a day on confectionary. He’d harpooned my whale. (This isn’t a fat joke, the kid actually had a fast metabolism, it’s a term used in gambling I swear.)

But this was fine, because I had done the right thing, I was now “appropriate”. Except that my confidence gradually dropped, as I’d lost my outlet to interacting with people outside of my friend group. And I became fearful of any business ventures going forward.

To tell the truth I even became suspicious of the concept of Maths as a whole, as I’d replay scenes of being told off for practicing basic maths outside of the classroom. You know, I bet this is also the point where I started to subconsciously criticise capitalism — We’re unpacking a lot here.

Then I entered the adult world, and found that everyone is cutting one corner or another in order to get by. Even if it’s just a petite, “white” corner-cutting.

I guess my point is that I have no idea why I get such bad anxiety in most regular occurrences, but it’s fun to blame this formative experience because it doesn’t effect anyone who I love and respect.

I suppose the positive to come from this time in my life is that I easily see corruption and corner-cutting in world leaders or respected members of the community. Because I’ve played their game, I know how it is on the rough streets of white collar crime. Don’t mess with us, or we might just sell you something for twice what it’s actually worth, whilst breaking several national wholesale laws in the process.


Today is Tuesday, January 8th and I wanted a .gif of all of the candy spilling from Marge’s coat but I couldn’t find one.

Tip My Jar?

If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

$1.00

World Mental Health Day +2

Wednesday was World Mental Health Day and mid-week I chose not to write something about it over my morning coffee. I sent out a little tweet and scrolled through Twitter for a bit, but other than that I just wanted to have a normal, productive day.

By the way, that’s my Twitter. You should follow me, and I’ll follow you. Then we can all be connected in a early 21st century consciousness sort of way. Brilliant!

Part of my constant recovery from anxiety and depression has been to stay busy. There are definitely other factors involved, but the general rule of thumb for me is the more productive I’ve been that day, the lower the likelihood of anxiety sneaking its way into my mind.

I’m incredibly neurotic, which is such a cliché for a writer. So burn me, burn me now. When my anxiety boils over I end up with three of four trains of thought going on at once. It’s all linked to a chemical imbalance in the fight or flight mechanism, which it turns out is used for more than just extremely dangerous situations. It’s actually used in most decisions, no matter how passive they may be.

It’s why anxiety is on the rise in young people. It’s not because they’re “snowflakes” or “liberal cucks” who “can’t handle the real world”, it’s because the world has more and more decisions to be made from such an early age. Should I like that status? Should I add them as a friend? Should I even make a social media account?

I’m not saying that pre-social media folk didn’t have to make decisions, but the results of anyone’s actions are now quantifiable in the number of friends or likes you have. The consequences of a young persons actions are reflected back on them in such a precise way. So if you force enough decisions on the early mind, then that fight or flight response is going to become fairly erratic and imbalanced.

I can’t imagine taking my underdeveloped brain from ten years ago and putting it into today’s environment. In fact — I can imagine it, I just don’t want to.

As I mentioned, I’ve found that staying busy has been the most useful element of my recovery. Although I should say that it’s on top of a diagnosis, CBT, meditation and breathing exercises. I don’t think I’d be where I am today without at least some of each of the above.

Staying busy doesn’t make my anxiety go away, but it allows it less room to breathe when it creeps up on me. If I’m writing, which takes up at least two of the trains of thought in my head, then I’m rooted in something tangible whenever I start to panic. If that makes sense?

It’s like if you have to be hit by a car — You have no choice in the matter, it’s going to happen. Would you rather let it happen without any protection, or would you rather wear a helmet and body-armour?

By writing, I lessen the impact of the blow. You might have something else that keeps your mind occupied, and that’s amazing — Keep it up. A lot of neuroticism is about your response to certain stimulus, but I’ve found that by keeping your mind at least partially stimulated on something at all times — Well, it makes for less painful car accidents.

garfminusgarf1

I didn’t want to write the above words on World Mental Health Day itself. Partly because I’ve noticed a trend that I’m starting to worry about.

Let me first say that awareness is brilliant. Everyone needs to have an understanding of mental health problems, at least to a level where we can have conversations about them. Talking, quite literally, saves lives.

The posts I’ve made on this blog which have had the most views/likes have been ones where I’ve discussed my mental health. Which both does and doesn’t sit right with me. This lead me down a rabbit-hole of mental health specific blogs, who made-up the majority of likes and engagements. If I tag this post right, then I’m sure these words will be no different.

Or maybe not after what I’m about to say, which genuinely comes from a place of love:

Maybe there’s a point at which mental health awareness tips over into glamourising, and even profiting from, very serious illnesses.

I’m not talking about the teenager who posts their personal struggles to an audience of twenty. They’re working through what they have going on by talking to the void, and we all know that’s better than keeping it locked away. They may not have an understanding of their illness, and they may not have been to visit a medical professional for proper diagnosis (an understanding always helps, even if you don’t want/can’t afford therapy), but they’re trying to connect for sincere reasons and that’s beautiful.

I’m talking about the blogs with thousands of followers, who post fairly vapid mental health tips in pastel-coloured text boxes. Some of the language they use is alarmingly simplistic and sometimes misinformed. They have ads all across their blog and cross-promote each other on a regular basis, to drive-up traffic.

Mental health issues are complex, and my concern is that some people who’re genuinely suffering are either being misinformed, or think that visiting these blogs is enough of a therapy for them. Which, short term, it may be. But I can’t form an understanding of how they would impact someone long term, especially when their main advice on, say, anxiety is as follows:

  • Drink a warm beverage
  • Talk to a loved one
  • Wrap yourself in a blanket
  • Tell yourself you’re awesome
  • Tell yourself you’re double-awesome

I’m not going to name any names, as maybe they don’t even know what they’re doing. Maybe they’re just caught-up in blogging about something that’s “trendy” at the moment. But they make anxiety sound like a f***ing Pinterest board, which is a sick and damaging joke.

Anyone who is in the grips of an anxiety attack, knows how difficult the above five bullet-points are to achieve. Especially that hot beverage part, so many choices involved.

If we really want governments to take the funding of mental health seriously, then some people need to stop treating it like its a hobby by choice. Poor mental health is messy, and the remedies, therapies and treatments aren’t as simple as a graphic. You wouldn’t attempt heart surgery with a comfy pillow and some pixie-sticks, so why treat mental health so flippantly?

Finally, I’m aware of the slight irony here — That I myself am currently blogging about mental health. You should talk, absolutely. Talk to the void if that means you’re talking to someone. Just don’t try and make mental illnesses a marketable feature for your Wednesday Wisdom. They’re not a fashionable trend to be worn on days you feel like connecting to a wider audience — They’re closer to a Lady GaGa meat-dress in the hot, Arizonan sun.

Stay busy, breathe and look after yourself.


Today is Friday, October 12th and if I left this little part out of the blog would anyone notice?

Here’s a charity donation link instead of a tip jar:

https://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donate.general

Writing Anxious Characters

I’m an extremely anxious person and I think that comes across in a lot of my writing. My protagonists are often anxious beings, because that’s the mindset I understand well enough to portray at the centre of a story.

I avoid using the words ‘anxious’ or ‘anxiety’ in my writing as much as possible, as I think they are all-encompassing and easy words to describe a much more complex physical and emotional reaction.

My stories are either in dream-like worlds, distorted realities or far-away dystopian futures, which hardly follow the much-repeated motto of “write what you know”. Despite what I can extrapolate from current governments, we’re not quite in a classically dystopian society just yet — so beyond dreaming, and living under Trump, I can’t say that I intimately know the settings I write about.

That’s why I tend to make my central characters anxious and neurotic people. If the situation isn’t familiar, then at least the subjects navigating it will be. As someone with a fairly serious anxiety disorder, I don’t make my characters quite as stricken as I am — as they actually need to be able to mobilise and get things done beyond reclusively working at home.

Their call to action is my call to action.

I think that anxiety in characters makes for a well-rounded, three-dimensional individual. The way I’m about to explain this — via a list of character flaws and strengths — will make it appear as though I use anxiety as a quick cheat-sheet for character development at the start of a novel. Which may well be the case. But I’d like to think that if anyone gets to do this, it would be a writer who could portray the feelings and sensations of the mental health issue accurately, through experience.

So here are the strengths and weaknesses of an anxious character:

Weaknesses

weaknessbender

Neurosis — This relates to over-thinking. My protagonists will often over-think a situation to the point that nothing practical is being done. The situation is well analysed, which helps provide exposition or potential solutions, but to what end? That’s why some of my secondary characters are the more get-up and go types.

Selfishness — Anxiety sufferers worst fear is being labelled as selfish. The truth is, from the outside perspective we often seem so. We’re inwardly thinking about other people all the time, but take very few practical steps because we assume that everyone is thinking about the world in this way. So, my protagonists often assume that those around them are thinking in the same way that they are, and therefore lead others down paths they wouldn’t normally go on.

Panic — My characters with anxiety will emotionally react first and think second. After they’ve thought, they’ll combine the logic with their original emotional response to create a positive, but it’s that original reaction that often lands them in trouble.

Weight of the World — Given that my protagonists are usually in a situation where there’s something wrong with their environment or the world they live in — that means there’s always something to be fixed. Through neurosis and selfish thinking, my anxious characters will take on more than they can handle before they decide to reach out for help, making the problem worse than it would’ve been had they worked as a team from the start.

Strengths

strengthincredible

Empathy — Many studies have linked anxiety disorders with a heightened sense of empathy. My protagonists feel for people, and notice when others’ emotions are declining or when they are suffering in silence. Asking how people are feeling is what gets people talking, and so the plot is pushed forward through little moments of empathy.

Analysis — Like an in-control neurosis. As long as my character has someone around them to keep them grounded, so they can use their anxiousness as a method of problem-solving, then this is definitely a positive. They’ll look at a situation from multiple angles and decide the best course of action.

Leadership — Anxious people make for great leaders of talented teams. Put an anxious person in a room full of people who simply want to follow, and the anxious person won’t do a good job. But, put an anxious person in charge of a group where each member has very specific talents, and they’ll co-ordinate that group to the best of its’ ability. Given that my secondary characters usually have specific talents, traits and skills — my analytical and introspective protagonists slot into natural, situational, leadership roles.

An Alarm Bell — Other than during dramatic second-act twists from the antagonists, my protagonists can usually tell when something is about to go wrong. Due to the constant analysis of their environment, they understand when they’re about to push something too far, or when danger is coming. With dramatic writing this leads to a lot of situations where my protagonists can go right to the edge without falling. At least this is the case earlier on in the narrative, sometimes you have to fall.

This isn’t to say that all of my protagonists are simply walking balls of anxiety who behave in these exact ways, with these exact traits, in everything I write. They have much more layered on top of them; Everything else that goes into well-rounded characterisation.

Anxiety typically acts as a base for my central characters because it’s the mindset I know. I’ve grown out of the habit of writing everything in first person present tense, as this pushes me to get across the emotions of a character via third person past tense. Which is a lot more challenging, but equally far more rewarding for the narrative as a whole, as well as for secondary characters who aren’t typically given the luxury of perspective.

I’d love to hear about the general make-up of protagonists in your written works. Do you write what you know situationally, and therefore not worry as much about the characters being so familiar? Or do you, like me, often put a small piece of yourself into each of your central characters? I’m extremely curious.

Best of luck to anyone writing this weekend. I know you can open that document and get some solid words down. Express those thoughts and feelings into words — you silver-minded devils you.


Today is Saturday, August 18th and there is some quality professional wrestling on tonight.

Tip My Jar?

If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

$1.00

Anxiety Disorders and Difficult Situations

The other day I had to do something out of the ordinary. I won’t go into it — because it really wasn’t about me — but it was something I’ve only ever done once before, as well as being a situation that most would find difficult or stressful.

I’m not here to write about what I did, but rather how I did it. The few other people who know what happened commented afterwards how naturally I managed to slide into the role that was required, and overcome the stress of it all. Welcome to the world of an anxiety disorder.

About four years ago I was diagnosed with having an anxiety disorder and it was a bit of a lightbulb moment. I was lucky enough to receive a course of counselling on the NHS back in England, in which I went through some Cognitive behavioural therapy sessions. Since then I’ve had panic attacks, bouts of depression and times where I’ve felt completely enveloped by my poor mental health — but I’ve never felt as low as I did before my understanding of the disorder.

Back when I was diagnosed I was scored on a chart, where I could see via line graphs and data just how bad my anxiety disorder was. “This isn’t great. In fact — It’s about as bad as it possibly can be,” my straight-talking NHS counsellor told me, “but it’s nothing you can’t fix.”

Before my CBT sessions I displayed strong symptoms of social anxiety and agoraphobia, on top of my generalised anxiety disorder; I couldn’t have conversations with anyone on most days, and some days I was terrified of what might happen if I left the house.

To put it simply, an anxiety disorder is a chemical imbalance in the brain that means you process events differently. It plays into the whole primal fight or flight element of living; Something that used to be all about surviving potential predators in the wild, but now helps us out in scary situations. My imbalance means that I read most encounters as fight or flight — which allows the anxiety to seep in, leading me to not do either. Instead, I freeze.

It’s recommended that people with serious anxiety disorders don’t drive, as it consists of a lot of instant decision making that can put people’s lives in danger. So I don’t drive, for now. Most other aspects of modern living are fine enough to handle with some CBT, meditation or understanding of the disorder — because in most situations you’re given a minute or so to make a decision on something.

If we reduce negative feelings of a mental heath disorder to a simple 1-10 scale, I was told that I’m constantly at a 5 — that’s my base camp. I know that when I meditate, or control my breathing in any way, I can get that feeling as low as a 2 and feel what it’s like to not have an anxiety disorder.

It’s great, by the way — but I can’t be constantly meditating. I might live at a high altitude in Colorado, but I’ve got a long way to go before I’m actually living up a mountain.

For whatever reason, whenever I encounter something in day-to-day life that I’ve done a hundred times before, such as order a meal, make a phone call or speak to a stranger, my 5 goes up to a 7 or an 8. Until online delivery came about, ordering a pizza used to be an impossible task.

In these everyday situations my fight or flight kicks in, as usual, but then my anxiety asks why everyone else involved in the encounter isn’t also freaking out — and I start to panic. Why isn’t the waitress as terrified to receive my order as I am to give it? Why isn’t my polite neighbour trembling with fear when we say hi to each other? I’ve learned to control this, for the most part, but it’s something I have to actively suppress.

Now when something traumatic happens, something that legitimately demands a fight or flight response, and people around me do start freaking out — That’s when I’m in my element. See, I’m already at a 5, so to jump to a 9 isn’t a huge stretch for me. The people also involved the other day, they were floating along at a 1 or a 2, but they also had to jump to a 9, from a much lower point.

I’m good when accidents happen to other people, because everyone is running around and visibly displaying the same panic I feel on a day-to-day basis. This stops the anxiety of “you’re not normal” seeping in, so I can think clearly and do what I need to do to solve the problem. I’d really prefer it if accidents didn’t happen to other people though.

Jon Ronson is a journalist and writer with an anxiety disorder, who occasionally discusses its impact on his life. Despite his struggle with performing a lot of basic, daily tasks — he has spent time with terrorist groups, been around some dangerous people and put himself in situations that most would normally find terrifying.

In a podcast interview he once mused:

“Maybe it’s why people with anxiety disorders are quite good when it comes to actual difficult situations, because we’ve rehearsed it so many times. We panic unnecessarily so often that when something really worth panicking (about) comes along, we actually handle it really well.” – Jon Ronson

What I had to do the other day was nothing like spending time with terrorists to get to know them, but it was something really worth panicking about.

It got me thinking that maybe I can overcome even more of aspects of my life effected by my anxiety disorder, if I can just convince myself that it’s all worth panicking about. I’ll have to give it some thought, because reprogramming thought-processes can be risky — but if I could respond to normal situations in the same way I did to that stressful one, then I’d consider myself as close to “cured” as I think is possible for my particular mental health issue.

The world is a scary place from time to time, and while ordering a pizza isn’t worth having a panic attack over — if I tell myself that it is, then maybe I wouldn’t panic in the first place?

Some thoughts for thought, which is now my neurosis speaking.


Today is Wednesday, August 8th and if you’re struggling with your mental health you should talk about it. It’s not talking that causes the damage.

Tip My Jar?

If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

$1.00

 

The Saga of Virtute the Cat

I’m an unapologetic cat person. I love dogs but they’re the last thing that I need in my life right now. In my darkest moments I don’t want something that’ll unconditionally love me no matter how I behave. I want a creature that’ll wallow in my misery, and lazily remind me that I can be better. If the cat can get up and out of the sunbeam after a couple of hours, then so can I.

Cats are like sad music; Cathartic. Cat-hartic.

Nope. Doesn’t work.

A pet cat is a soothing, melancholic reminder that existence can be difficult in spite of complete and total comfort. Just because your life has turned out more idilic than you ever thought you deserved, doesn’t mean the rain can’t catch up with your boat and shatter your sails for a couple of days at a time.

Our cat is seven months old, she’s named Kairi and she’s pictured at the top of this post. I really don’t want this to be one of those blog posts where I fawn over my pet for a thousand words. You know the ones, the ones where people talk about their pets as though they’re actual children. Disgusting.

They’re not children, they’re companions.

The endorphins I get from my cat during bouts of depression aren’t a cure, but they do ease the madness. Having something gently approach and sleep beside you, whilst softly purring, is better than any medication. At least for myself, anyway.

For years I’ve liked a 2003 song by The Weakerthans called Plea From a Cat Named Virtute. I think it showed up on a Spotify discover playlist back in 2013 and it’s one of those “sort your melancholy out mate” songs, for me. The kind of track that can pull you out of a downward spiral of negative thinking, if you can only remember to hit play before the wave crashes.

The song is from the perspective of songwriter John K. Samson’s cat. The cat, named Virtute, notices her owner’s declining mood and unhealthy lifestyle. She begs that he sorts himself out, and the general mood at the end of the song is that Virtute was successful.

For whatever reason, I only ever listened to the rest of the album that this track is from, and never explored the rest of The Weakerthans’ back catalogue.

Until this past week, that is.

It turns out that there are three sequels to this song. One from the following Weakerthans album and then two from one of John K. Samson’s solo albums. I was moved to tears by each and every one of these songs, for entirely different reasons. Particularly after learning the context for each song, and reading more about Samson’s experiences with his mental health.

The second song in the Virtute the Cat saga is titled Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure. The subject is, as you would expect, about Virtute running away from her owner. It chronicles her life on the streets and it’s heavily implied that she’s observing her owner search for her, but chooses not to return to him. This could be because of the way he behaves in the first song, or something else entirely.

Anyone who has ever lost a cat that they’d confided in at the darkest of moments, they’ll understand the tone and mood of this song. Virtute explains that she can’t remember “the sound you found for me”, implying that she holds true to the memories, but has forgotten the name given to her by her human, Virtute.

Then we come to the third piece, 17th Street Treatment Centre, which is from the perspective of Virtute’s owner this time, who we presume is Samson himself by this point.

He’s in recovery at a rehab centre, and makes reference to his behaviours and feelings from the first song. Virtute is only mentioned in one line, “Sang the one about the spring the cat ran away”, which confirms the link between art and artist.

Samson sings of personal breakthroughs and recovery, but also that he is far from being well again.

The final song in the saga is simply titled, Virtute at Rest, and is once again from the perspective of Virtute.

She states that she has found a final resting place within Samson’s mind, a final bed that’s made up of the comfort he has found in his recovery. Virtute states that she is proud of him for finally pulling himself together, and that it won’t be easy, but she’ll always be with him. She forgives him for the way he behaved when she knew him, and then provides closure to the entire saga.

It’s implied that Virtute is long gone, especially if you look at the time between the release of the first and the last song, but in his recovery he has earned her memory.

Now, obviously Virtute could never talk, and these songs are Samson’s way of reckoning with his own life, and subsequently forgiving himself for his actions. All of these feelings are just ladled onto the perspective of an anthropomorphised cat. Which, in doing so, connects to the listener in a way that draws out more empathy than if it was just a conversation with himself.

These songs resonate with me from my experiences with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, that aided with my anxiety and depression. The things you tell yourself, to reprogram your negative thought processes, could almost be the voice of a pet. Something that is removed from yourself, yet alive and without judgement. A voice like that is soothing, and helps to heal.

I’m taking this moment to once again recommend CBT to anyone who feels crippled by their mental health. It’s not BS. I still have bad days, but I no longer have bad months.

I know my cat has saved me a couple of times already, and she’s only seven months old. I also know that, beyond rolling gentle purrs, she’ll never fully understand how she has the ability to pull me from the waves. And that’s okay.

People whom I love, and who love me, pick me up on a daily basis. But sometimes you hit a slump that needs to be dealt with personally. You don’t want to face anyone else because the water is constantly crashing against the sea-wall, and you can’t see for the foam.

A cat is just enough of a person, without actually being a person, for you to allow them to save you. A cat can get you from a zero to a two. And being at a two is enough for you to pull yourself to a five, and then as a five you can be around wonderful people again, who bring you to a nine.

Today is Saturday May 26th. Please, go and hug your pet.