Content warning: Depression
I told myself when writing this I would be completely raw and honest, and that’s what I plan to do.
My senior year has proven to be incredibly difficult for me — not that the workload is any different, but I feel that I myself am different. Getting through the exceeding amount of burnout I feel on a daily basis and undergoing a vast amount of stressors that made me feel like I was drowning, I felt like my life was dwindling down a slope I couldn’t control.
I was feeling extremely depressed. In all honesty, nothing mattered to me anymore. I didn’t care what happened to my grades, my relationships, myself. I wanted nothing more than to disappear to a place where responsibilities and “having to be okay” didn’t exist. I was on the cusp of leaving school entirely and burrowing myself into a dark and damaged hole where no one would bother me.
Loneliness overcame me. I desperately wanted, needed someone to keep me company — and I’m not afraid to admit that. I staggered from person to person hoping one of them would be able to fill the void that my sadness began to dig at until it was absolutely gaping. I was flailing, desperately trying to grasp at something that might catch me before I hit the ground.
I’m notorious for my impulsivity. I’ve picked up many hobbies — and dropped them just as fast — started many projects, joined many clubs, the list truly goes on. The idea of adopting a kitten left as quickly as it came. I pushed it aside as another one of my impulsive thoughts — there was no way I could handle taking care of another living being if I could barely handle taking care of myself.
It wasn’t until I saw someone’s experience with what they called their “college cat,” on TikTok of all places, that my mind began to shift. She talked about how the cat she adopted in college graduated with her, moved into her first apartment with her, watched her get married and grew up alongside her kids. My heart instantly warmed at this entire process and my yearning for a furry companion for myself grew even stronger — though that wasn’t the only thing that intensified.
I was met with circumstances that challenged me entirely. My depression, insecurities and lack of self-worth grew nearly unbearable as I was forced to endure extremely difficult circumstances alone. It was starting to get too hard to get out of bed in the morning, being shackled by the physical and emotional pain I was feeling on a daily basis. I grew more and more in need of a companion to get me out of this terrifyingly dark headspace I found myself in.
I began going over everything required to properly take care of a kitten. I asked myself the questions I knew I wouldn’t think of had I acted on impulse instead of reason. Am I willing to clean up after her? Will I scoop the litter box everyday? Am I willing to pay every expense of vet bills, food, toys and more? When I found that I answered yes to every one of these questions, I asked myself the most challenging question of them all.
Do I genuinely need an emotional support animal?
And the answer was yes.
The trip to Berkeley Humane was an exciting one. I had been there on previous occasions, but never with the intention of adopting.
She was the last one left of her litter — completely alone after her sisters and brothers had all found their people — yet she didn’t let that stop her from greeting me with the utmost affection. She was a quiet baby and only really showed her care through purrs and headbutts. She was also the smallest at the shelter at barely two pounds and when she fell out of her kennel and into my arms, I knew she was meant to be with me.
She immediately shocked me with how quickly she got used to everything. She immediately greeted my roommates, explored my apartment, played with her toys — and all of this told me my home was meant to be hers.
I finally had a reason to get up in the morning, even if it was something as minor as needing to feed her breakfast. Taking care of her meant I had to take care of myself. She depended on me, she needed me — and I needed her right back.
She knows when I’m in need of her companionship the most. She senses my emotions like they are hers. She nuzzles into me when I’m at my lowest and keeps me grounded when I feel like I’m about to lose myself. I cannot express enough how much she’s saved my life. I genuinely don’t know if I would have made it without her.
I know there’s going to be some readers who question how an animal could possibly do so much for a human and I understand your perception. I can’t change your opinion; I can simply just tell you that she’s more than an animal to me. She’s my best friend. I look at her and I know the hardships both she and I endured before entering one another’s lives — and I simply can never fully explain that to someone who can’t understand.
I’m forever grateful for my tiny furball. I know I rescued her, but she rescued me right back.
I saved her life, and now she saves mine.