It’s Official; Cats Are The Cure For Everything

, , , , | Learning | February 25, 2021

I used to get what I called “I hate everything!” days. Let me explain that: I used to struggle with depression, a lot of unresolved anger and grief, and several other mental health issues. I started therapy when I was in my early twenties, and I am so much better now, but back when I was in university I would sometimes have days where I felt nothing but anger and resentment toward everyone and everything. If the toaster malfunctioned, I wanted to throw it against the wall. If someone walked too slowly in front of me, I wanted to punch their lights out. If my dad called, I wanted to cuss him out.

On such days, I only had negative things to say. It was an awful feeling, but thankfully, my enormous fear of hurting people kept me from acting on my impulses. Still, I didn’t trust myself on those days, so I would stay home, lock myself in my room, and not interact with anyone.

One day I couldn’t do that, and that was the day that changed everything. I had an English literature seminar that day, and since I was struggling with that class a bit and had already missed a class because I was sick, I knew I couldn’t afford to miss it. I told myself to just go and keep my head down and my mouth shut. This is what I kept repeating in my head as I walked to class, wanting to scream insults at every cyclist that didn’t obey traffic rules and to kick everyone who got in my way. “Eyes down, mouth shut. Eyes down, mouth shut.”

Unfortunately, my calculations hadn’t accounted for my teacher, a young, happy-go-lucky guy who was super enthusiastic about his subject, loved every book we had to read, and loved interacting with his students even more. Normally, I really enjoyed the discussions we had in that class, and I was usually one of the most involved students. I should’ve known he’d get suspicious if I kept quiet.

The book we had to read that day was Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man And The Sea.” I’m not a fan of Hemingway on a good day, and this was most definitely not a good day. So, of course, the first thing our teacher asked us is what we thought of the book. “Eyes down, mouth shut,” I kept repeating to myself, as the rest of the class started debating. And then, disaster struck.

The teacher smiled brightly and turned to me.

Teacher: “What about you, [My Name]? You’re unusually quiet today. What did you think of the book?”

Now I’m thinking, “Don’t hurt anyone, don’t hurt anyone!”

Me: “Didn’t really like it.”

It’s all I trust myself to say, but [Teacher] isn’t satisfied.

Teacher: “Really? That’s it? That’s all you have to say? Nothing on the struggle of man versus nature? The wonderful use of language? The fascinatingly ambiguous ending? The—”

Readers, I’m sorry to say that I snapped. I flew into a rant about how much I hated this book and its author. I think the least harsh words I used were, “pompous, grossly macho, and ridiculously over the top.” The rest I won’t repeat, but I get a good few minutes of belligerency going before I suddenly realize the entire class is looking at me like I’ve grown an extra head, and the teacher looks like a kicked puppy. I turn red, duck my head, and mumble an apology.

Feeling guilty but still angry at the world, I say:

Me: “Sorry, I hate everything today.”

Before the teacher can recover, one of my classmates, whom I have previously bonded with over a shared love of cats, jumps up, pulls out her phone, and shoves it under my nose.

Classmate: “There. Do you hate that?”

It’s a picture of her cat, a very fluffy white Persian, wearing a tiny Christmas hat and looking very grumpy about it. The balloon of anger inside of me deflates a little.

Me: “No, I guess I don’t hate that.”

Classmate: “Look at her! Look at how grumpy she is. She only agreed to the photo because I was holding a treat. You can’t hate that!”

I really can’t. Somehow, that picture of a grumpy cat in a Christmas hat pops my balloon of anger, and I just feel tired — a vast improvement.

Me: *A lot calmer* “No, I can’t hate that.”

The teacher seems to think it’s safe to talk to me again.

Teacher: “As much as I appreciate the rescue, I must ask if that’s relevant for class.”

Classmate: “No, sir, it’s a picture of my cat.” *Shows him* “But it worked, didn’t it?”

Teacher: “Okay, that’s adorable. But we really have to continue now. [My Name], do you need to leave for a moment?”

Me: “I’m good, sir. And I’m sorry. Thanks, [Classmate].”

We continued the seminar without further incident. Afterward, I wondered if [Classmate] had found the cure for my “I hate everything!” days and decided that next time, I would look at cat pictures BEFORE going out. I did, and what do you know? It worked! It didn’t miraculously make me happy, but at least it made the anger go away.

Thanks to therapy, I no longer have days like that, but I still look at cat pictures when I feel down. My therapist and I even made it a part of my treatment plan, because apparently, no matter how miserable or angry I feel, I can’t resist cats.


This story is part of our Best Of February 2021 roundup!

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