After having a terrible day Monday that left me in a dark place, I’ve spent all morning with antidepressants.
By the middle of the day, I feel much better — almost ready to deal with the world — and these antidepressants don’t have any side effects. They don’t come from a pharmaceutical company. My antidepressants have fur.
See that face at the top? That’s the face Lucy uses to greet me every time I return home to her. That photo showed her happiness in the back yard Monday evening right after I got home. How can it fail to make you feel better when a living creature is this happy to see you?
Some of my antidepressants are more subtle. The cats don’t rush to see me and act happy unless it’s dinner time and they’re loudly demanding what they want. But some of them have their own ways of making me feel better, too.
Dagny is the only one of my current bunch who likes to sit in my lap — or on my chest or shoulder or whatever. In the past, I’ve had cats who were more lap cats than the current bunch, so I know what it’s like to have two furry creatures curled up together in my lap as they purr themselves to sleep.
Merlin is more aloof. He likes to spread out on my desk in the sun as I work. He sometimes takes a break to casually saunter over to me and gently push his head into my forehead as I’m bent over working. It’s his sign that he wants to be scratched a bit. Then it’s back to sunbathing for him.
Thomas started life as a street kitty, so he’s still too feral to want to spend time with me, but he often sits nearby and just watches me — with an attitude halfway between curiosity and caution. (I took this photo was Monday morning.)
Lucy and I went for a walk this morning. When she came to live with me a little more than two years ago, she was scared of the world. I was told that she would always be a “special needs dog” who was scared around humans, but when she walks down her street today, she walks with an easy confidence that makes her seem as though she’s prancing at times.
When we walked Monday morning, we met a 4-year-old girl who was excited to meet Lucy — because the little girl’s name is Lucy, too.
Her father was surprised that the girl approached us, because he said she’s super shy. We had talked with her briefly one other day, but this time she called out a bright, “Hi!,” before we were even to her house. When we went over to her, she got a little shy and held onto her dad’s leg, but when she found out Lucy had the same name as her, she was excited.
Then she was also excited to touch Lucy and rub the fur on her head. It seemed to make her day — and it made me happy to have her so excited.
I think the right people and animals in our lives make amazing antidepressants. The wrong people and wrong situations can send us into depression and misery. They can make life seem bleak. But loving and empathetic people can change everything. And having loving “fur friends” can make a huge difference as well.
I don’t have the love in my life from the people I need. I can’t do anything about that. But I’m grateful for Lucy and these five cats for bringing life and love to me every day.
Sometimes we think that we’re rescuing animals who need good homes, but in many cases, the truth is that they’re rescuing us, too.
Note: For a larger view of the “antidepressants” on this page, click any of the three photos. At the top is Lucy. Thomas is in the middle photo. Below are Dagny, left, and Merlin stretched out of my desk looking out an office window. For more photos of my furry antidepressants, follow them on Instagram at The McElroy Zoo (@themcelroyzoo).