Posted in Mental Health Monday

Mental Health Monday: Stress, It is a Killer

I’m an average person. I work full time, I have a lovely boyfriend, an apartment, a sweet (to me) dog, and we have recently added a kitten to our family. I love my life, I love all the heartbeats (people AND animals) in it, and I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate and lucky with this beautiful life I live.

I’m an average person, and sometimes I absolutely hate my life.

I hate when the stress of adding a new family member triggers my anxiety. What if Willow and Maui are accidentally let into the same room at the same time? Was I crazy to think something like this would work? What if I’m not a good enough pet parent to make sure that both of my fur children are safe and cared for, and their needs are all met? Is Willow getting enough face time with Vinh and I? Is Maui? Is adding a kitten to the mix just going to make Willow regress from all the progress we are making?

I hate when I feel guilty living the “crate and rotate” system. How do I fully enjoy watching Maui run around and play when I can hear Willow barking and crying in the background? How can I snuggle and love on my dog when the cat is mewling from the bathroom to be let out? Who do I let out and roam when I’m doing chores around the house? I can logically rationalize it to myself, but how do I rationalize it to my animals? Or my boyfriend, who is so in love with the kitten and afraid of the dog?

I hate when a peaceful moment with one of them triggers the other. I live for the moments when they are both relaxed and at peace. To be honest, Maui really doesn’t care a whole lot if Willow is barking at him. Every day he ventures closer and closer to her crate, regardless of how ferociously she’s screaming. And every day, Willow barks a little bit less at him. Unfortunately, my heart breaks the same amount every time.

At some moments, I really hate my life. And it’s in those moments that I get the opportunity to remember the good things in it.

Willow’s probably never going to be able to be left alone with Maui and leave me feeling comfortable with it. That’s a fact of life both Vinh and I have resigned ourselves to and feel okay about. But it has always been important for her to have time for herself, to relax or sleep or chew on a special treat she gets. Her medications have been working well for her, and every day we are able to do a little bit more that used to be outside of her comfort zone. Both Maui and Vinh give us lots of chances to practice our obedience and impulse control, and this gives my girl more and more confidence that things aren’t going to get her at any moment.

Maui is a source of laughter in our sometimes too stressful home. Last night, he was walking across the window sill and slipped, falling into Willow’s water bowl. He proceeded to track water all around the room until I caught him and toweled him off. He chases our feet first thing in the morning, and rubs his face on my glasses while I’m wearing them. He’s brave, and curious, and playful, and sweet. He cuddles up with me and places his paws on my face to show me that he thinks I’m pretty okay. He climbs on top of Vinh’s laptop and turns it off to remind him that he needs to play with Maui too.

It’s hard not to fall into a pit when it seems like a bunch of things are clashing together and none of it is mixing together, no matter how hard you try. But there are always, always opportunities to find the light during those moments of darkness. No matter how hopeless or frustrating life seems, there are good points in every sadness.

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