A Blog From Our President, Andi Chrisman

2017 has probably been the hardest year for me to deal with since I’ve been in recovery. I wasn’t quite prepared for the levels of emotional and physical turmoil that I would have to deal with last year.

I spent a lot of 2017 in a deep depression that eventually required voluntary hospitalization in March and again in May when my depression became dangerous with suicidal thoughts. It was especially difficult since it had been a few years since I had dealt with this level of depression; this was also the first year since I felt I was approaching recovery that I was so low and it was a huge struggle for me. But I was able to avoid further hospitalization and eventually my depression would lift, in part thanks to Miles.

In early June a friend was in the process of moving and she needed someone to foster her cat while she did all of the necessary things. Her cat, Miles, is definitely not the aloof image you see with most cats. I could completely understand  why it would be so hard to move with him around because he loves to be around people 99.9% of the time. He was more than willing to trip me just to have attention!

Miles is a sweet and friendly orange tabby with a lot of love to give. On the flip side is my cat Gabby. Gabby is a brown  tabby, who only gives love on his terms, can be quite loud and demanding (hence the name), and is terrified of any person, animal,  or sound that he is not familiar with. So it was a pretty drastic change to go from a cat that paid attention to me once or twice a day to one that didn’t pay attention to me only once or twice a day! They never ended up being best friends or anything, but Gabby did adjust to having Miles around.

For me, one of the most important aspects of animal companionship that helps me with my coping and recovery is the accountability that is required to have a pet. When I get really depressed I often struggle to eat and to take basic care of myself, but when you have a cat named Gabby (named for his talkativeness) then you don’t have a choice, you have to pay attention to him when he needs things like food and water. And that can be quite difficult when I’m in a very depressive episode so his bossiness really benefits me in that way. But Gabby is sort of the aloof cat that you come to expect so he’s not always the best for emotional support when I need it. It’s difficult to feel like an animal is supporting you when you’re simultaneously holding them down and asking them to love you!!

And that’s why I believe that Miles ended up in my life towards the end of my six months depression this past year. Miles was not a baby but still a kitten very much and has a lot of energy. Gabby is a full grown adult cat so he would often yell at me and climb on me for attention but if I wasn’t giving it to him he would eventually give up.

But not Miles. Miles does not give up. Miles never gives up!

And I think of that time I needed that extra push that Miles was able to give me. He was also able to provide the cuddling support that Gabby often resists.

Miles stayed with me for about a month until my friend was ready to move into their new place. I was simultaneously sad and relieved when he left… He was very sweet and I liked having him around, but boy did he take a lot of my energy! But I believe this was the time I needed that sort of push that Gabby was not able to give me. But I’m glad he’s happy to be home and I know that my friend is benefiting from his companionship just like I did this year.

Andi Chrisman

Board President

1 Comment

  1. Roger Koller on December 12, 2017 at 11:33 pm

    I feel the same way about my new furry daughter, Molly! She has made more responsible already and I can focus on her adjustment to couches, beds, cars, and stairs instead of my own issues:) and her temperament is very soothing, and also, she helps me focus on the present, even nudging me when I try to type stuff on Facebook, which I do too much. Whether she knows it or not:) it’s also nice having someone to talk to and I’m never alone anymore:) what a blessing these fur balls are to our recovery:)

    Roger Koller
    Board Member

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