When You Have Anxiety Play Possum

, , , , | Hopeless | February 6, 2018

I struggle with anxiety and while I have recently figured out a very effective way to manage it, this happened shortly before I did that. It was kind of the wake-up call I needed to make me realize I needed some help. This will be important later.

I have a little black kitty who had been acting like she had a bladder infection or UTI, so I took her in to the vet’s office. They kept her overnight because she was apparently pretty dehydrated, even though there is always fresh water out for her. The vet said it wasn’t uncommon for cats to stop drinking water when they have bladder issues, because it means they have to go less often.

I left her there and went home. I knew that logically, my kitty was going to be fine, because bladder issues aren’t the end of the world, but I still worried about her all night and didn’t sleep well because of it. She’s a very timid cat and really only likes me, so I worried even more knowing she was probably pretty anxious, too.

By the time I went in the next day to pick her up, I looked okay on the outside, but inside, I was falling apart. I got up to the receptionist’s desk and as I started speaking, my throat tightened up and my eyes started to water, I was so overwhelmed. The lady behind the counter was late-40s or so, definitely a motherly type. She was immediately concerned and asked what was wrong, and I just lost it.

Five-or-so years prior to this incident, my other cat, who is my absolute best friend in the world and my therapy cat, had a urinary issue as well, but in male cats, they aren’t minor issues. He had a blockage over his urethra, which could have killed him. I was 21 years old at the time and spent $2000 I didn’t have to save my cat. He’s been great ever since then, but it was one of the scariest experiences of my life, and apparently it was traumatic enough that dealing with minor feline urinary tract issues now is a trigger and sends me into a two-day anxiety attack.

I explained all that (more briefly) to the receptionist (let’s call her Sandy), and rather than tell me not to worry, or that everything would be okay — two very pointless things to tell people who are experiencing an anxiety/panic attack — she thought for a second and then asked me, “Would you like to see a baby possum?”

I was taken aback at first, wasn’t really sure I’d heard her correctly, but she was not kidding! She took me back to her office, where she did some basic wildlife rehabilitation. She got the baby possum out of its crate and handed him to me! I couldn’t focus on anything except the adorably ugly little rodent in my hands, so my anxiety attack quickly passed. I held him and talked to Sandy a bit about her rescue and rehab adventures, and when I gave the possum back, I was able to take a deep breath and start over. I gave Sandy my kitty’s information and she brought her out a few minutes later. I paid the bill and we were on our way home!

I was so touched by Sandy’s concern and the way she handled the situation. I couldn’t believe that a complete stranger knew what I needed when I didn’t even know myself. The next day, I made sure to stop at a coffee shop that is walking distance to the veterinary hospital and got her a gift card, and I wrote her a thank you note. She wasn’t working when I brought it in, but I hope it made its way to her and I hope she knows just how much I appreciate her. It wasn’t a big thing that she did, but it made a big difference to me!

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