Personal Growth
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What My Cat Knows About Overcoming Anxiety & Depression

What Hattie Cooper's at knows about anxiety and depression and mental health

I adopted my cat Scout in 2008. Since then he has moved with me from college in San Luis Obispo, CA to Sacramento, to Spokane, and finally to Seattle. He’s been around for a lot of emotional turmoil, a lot of Hattie-feels-lost-right-now moments, and a lot of different crushes and heartbreak.

Scout stared at me when I waited by my phone for that musician with the lazy eye to call in college. He sat next to me as I emailed my crush who lived two states away who eventually would reflect on our time together by saying “you have nice boobs.” He warily met Jared and eventually grew to love him more than he loves me (or so I fear). And Scout was even featured as a small cartoon drawing on the back of our Save the Dates. All these moments have given me anxiety and spiraled me into phases of darkness and he’s been present for every one of them.

He’s handled it all with both affection and apathetic distance. His general attitude has always been, “whatever, I love you to pieces but none of it will matter once I learn how to get opposable thumbs and overthrow the government.”

Here’s what Scout knows that I wish I remembered more often:

  1. Appreciate the little things in life, like a good meal, a good nap, and morning sunlight.
  2. Don’t waste time thinking about things you can’t control or that don’t concern you.
  3. If you want to take a nap in the middle of the day, do it. But don’t feel guilty about it
  4. As a matter of fact don’t feel guilt about anything, it doesn’t accomplish anything and gets in the way of more eating and napping and appreciating.
  5. Ignore people who, for whatever reason, make your intuition say “nope.”
  6. Cuddle the shit out of the people you love.
  7. Own your moments. As in, if you want to try and find a way to squeeze behind the bed frame, but get wedged somewhere and have to shimmy your way back out, own that shit.
  8. Don’t give up. As in, if you want to try and find a way to jump into the damn dryer but it’s at an awkward angle, figure that shit out.
  9. Communicate. If you notice you’re out of fresh water or that someone is ignoring you, say something.
  10. Be present. Live in the moment. Stare at those birds out your window like it’s your JOB.

It’s so incredibly easy for us to get lost in our minds, to overthink life and become consumed by our worries and fears. Remind yourself to try and keep it simple. Quiet those loud, unhelpful, thoughts and go back to the basics. What do you enjoy doing? Who adds value and warmth to your life? Seek those moments out and then curl up in the sun like you know what is important in life.

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