It’s time to meet the kids

It’s time that I introduce you to the fuzzballs in my life – Darwin, Watson, Newton, and Rosie. You’ll notice that all of them are named after scientists (Rosie’s “real” name is Rosalind Franklin, her name just happened to already be Rosie when we adopted her). This is due to a number of things – I was a biochemistry major in college, we wanted different names for the cats and decided scientists we admire would a different idea. So there you have it. Darwin, Watson, Newton, and Rosie.

 

Darwin

Darwin turns 11 in August, and he was originally my parent’s cat (they let me name him, and my brother named his brother). They got Scruffy and Darwin right around the time I started college again, so 2006. In 2008 they decided they just didn’t have time for them and gave them to us. At that time we had another cat (Elmo, AKA Momo, but he’s a whole other story), and while they weren’t all BFFs, they tolerated each other and shared our 900 sq foot apartment with us mostly in harmony. Scruffy passed away due to cancer last October, so we were left with Darwin all by his lonesome.

When Darwin was younger he was a bag of nuts. He used to get on top of the door in our bedroom and stretch out and sleep. We had to be careful when we came home that we didn’t open the door too fast and knock him off (it happened a few times before we learned to be careful). Now, though, that he’s older. He generally prefers to lay around and be lazy. Unfortunately, due to two of the other three he doesn’t get much peace and quiet. But he joins in on the fun sometimes and is generally enjoying life. Except when someone is in His Spot.

Watson

Watson. Oh, Watson. When Scruffy died, both Darwin and I got depressed. Darwin showed his depression by walking around the house howling at the top of his lungs day and night. After a phone call to the vet, we decided to get him a friend. I found Watson one Sunday night at work on Petfinder. I immediately fell in love with him. It was just a matter of convincing Mike. Watson came from a hoarding situation and was bonded to a younger cat (Newton) from the same house. We couldn’t bear the idea of splitting them up, so we took both.

Watson has no teeth. When he was rescued from the house he had a horrible infection in his mouth and all of his teeth had to be pulled. Because of this he normally looks slightly disapproving of everything. He eats like a champ – dry food doesn’t bother him! And he drools. He rarely makes a sound, just opens his mouth to meow but nothing comes out. He’s the cuddle bug of the four. He loves to be smothered in cuddles and is the calmest of the four cats. He can normally be found sleeping either on the bed or on the couch. They estimate he’s between 3 and 5 years old, but our vet thinks he’s closer to 3. It’s hard to tell because he has no teeth.

Newton

Newton was the younger cat of the pair. He’s a trip. He’s about a year old and has the energy to prove it. When we adopted him we thought ‘we can handle a 1-year-old, no sweat.’ Nothing prepared us for him, though. He’s into everything, runs around like a loon, and is the sweetest little thing on four legs. He’s very insistent when he wants to be pet – he has no problem reaching out and grabbing your pants as you walk by or putting himself directly in your path if it means you’ll pet him. Over the past 8 months, I admit, he’s gotten a little fat. The vet thinks that he wasn’t used to having access to food whenever he wanted it and as such took to overeating. But we’re working on it – he’s at least stopped gaining at this point. But he’s a tubby little guy.

Rosie

And then there’s Rosie. She’s about 10 months old, and when we found her we had no intention of adopting another cat. But Mike and I were at a pet store in February killing time before we went to see a movie and Mike fell in love with a little kitten named Ginger. The next day he couldn’t stop talking about her, so I told him to go put in an adoption application. We were the second people to put in an application, so we didn’t get her. But Mike kept in touch with the lady that ran the rescue, and she texted him about a week later that they had Ginger’s sister. We had always said that if we got a female cat we would name her Rosalind Franklin. Well, after a day or two of Mike talking to this woman we were ready to meet her. And then I asked about the cat’s name. Her name was Rosie. It was fate. So we decided on the spot to adopt her, without even having met her.

She’s been a wonderful addition to the house. Her and Newton get on like a house on fire, and she gets along really well with Darwin and Watson too. She’s definitely become a pampered little house cat, and her favorite place to be is on someone’s shoulders. She rules the boys and they all tend to defer to her. It’s kind of funny – when we adopted Watson and Newton, Darwin wasn’t too thrilled about it but he accepted things. When we brought home Rosie he became the crotchety old man that meets his new granddaughter for the first time. She grooms him and chases his tail and cuddles up to him, and he just accepts it. It’s really kind of funny.

So those are our cats. They are definitely more family than pets and are great therapy for me. They all seem to know when I’m a bit down and are more cuddly and attentive than normal (don’t get me wrong, we’re usually surrounded by cats when we’re home – they’re all very personable, but when my anxiety is acting up or I’m feeling a little depressed I don’t get a minute alone). It’s also nice to have them around when Mike’s working late and I’m home – I’m at least not the only thing in the house. I’m sure over the course of this blog I’ll talk about them a lot, so I figured it was time to give them a proper introduction.

Depression, anxiety, and the job search

And we’ve now reached the portion of the game where a touch of depression rears it’s ugly head and causes me to question all of the decisions I’ve made.

The theme this week is should I have gone back to get my Masters? Was it really worth the time and the money? Am I going to be able to get a job?

On some level, I realize that that’s the anxiety and depression talking. It’s normal to question decisions, especially decisions that will affect the rest of your life.

But I also realize that I had to do something – I couldn’t continue to work in my current job if we wanted to have kids, if I wanted to work a normal 9-5 schedule, if I didn’t want to have to be at work at 4 AM on a regular basis. I didn’t have a lot of options. Going back to school and getting the MBA seemed like one of the only viable ones. I don’t regret it. I know that with enough effort I’ll find a job and will get started down a new career path.

It can be hard, though, when you get into these mindsets to not start questioning everything or to not start doubting yourself and everything that you’ve done. The trick is to think past it, to realize that not only is this the illness talking – the part of you that skews your thinking into negative pathways – but also that everyone goes through this, even those that are neurotypical. It’s normal when coming to the cusp of your life where everything changes, to wonder if you’re doing the right thing. Or if you made the right decision. It’s normal to overanalyze and stress and worry. But if you’ve got that underlying mental illness, these same normal things can start a cascade that’s hard to stop.

Don’t let that cascade start.

You have to believe that you made the right decision. You have to believe that you’ll land on your feet. You can’t let the negative thinking slow you down or stop you from doing something, especially something new. If you do you’ll be sitting in the same place in ten years that you are now wondering why you didn’t do more with your life, why you never took risks. I don’t want to be that person. I want to look back on my life someday and see that I challenged myself, didn’t let myself sit idly by and let opportunities pass by. I want to tell my kids and grandkids how I took life by the balls and didn’t sit back and expect things to happen to me – I made them happen myself.

I disgust myself

Over the past number of years, because of the lithium, risperdal, poor eating habits, and just not going to the gym like I should, I’ve put on 40 pounds. As much as I’d love to blame the meds for all of it, I really can’t if I’m being honest with myself.

So it’s time to take some action.

I’ve been eating better over the last few weeks – cooking healthier lunches for work ahead of time, not stopping at Sheetz on the way home from work, etc. I have a gym membership, I just really don’t use it. (I’m paying for the thing, I really should get down there a few times a week and make use of it.) I definitely need to watch portion size – doesn’t do any good cooking healthy meals if I eat twice what I should.

But it’s time to really knuckle down and do something about it. I’m not going to run out and do some fad diet or the 21 Day Fix or some other trendy diet. Just good old fashioned eating better and hard work.

I know that the meds are going to make it hard to lose the weight, and honestly? If it’s really that bad I may ask to switch them to something that weight gain isn’t the most prominent side effect. It would be better for my physical and mental health to drop the 40 pounds on a different medication than to keep carrying it around.

So new trend starts today.