“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone, whose weirdness is compatible with ours; we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness – and call it love…”
Robert Fulghum, True Love
It sounds a bit cliché, but right now – on the day my mini-Lionhead bunny turns one year old – I’m stuck between the notion that Luna has been part of our little family forever, and the feeling that I only just brought her home the other day...
THE JOURNEY OF ADDING LUNA TO THE FAMILY
If you’ve been reading, I’m NOT Disordered for a little while, you may know that one type of hallucinations I used to experience were visual, and of rabbits. In 2017, when they became the most constant and distressing, they had been in a long time, I asked a member of staff in Pets at Home if I could hold one of their bunnies. I had it in my head that maybe touching their soft fur and feeling their heartbeat whilst I held them, would better help me to recognise reality and separate that from the slightly blurred and vague notion I seemed to experience when I was hallucinating. And so, out of all the young rabbits, I picked a fluffy, brown Lionhead and I will never ever forget the serenity I felt when I held her against my chest in the middle of the store and started gently (so as not to scare her) crying. Fortunately, I had already asked my Mum to take photos, so she genuinely captured the tears rolling down my cheeks while I hugged the bunny who I had instantly determined to be mine. So, I returned to the store the following day to buy that exact bunny, her hutch, and all the other bits and pieces and I brought her home with the name ‘Pixie.’
Since I immediately knew Pixie was mine, I wasn’t at all surprised when I found us enjoying a bond that was so massively different from the one I had with my cat at the time (Dolly). It felt like we had some sort of understanding… As though she just really knew me. And I think a lot of that came from the relevance of her to the hallucinations because someone who is hallucinating is – in my opinion – very vulnerable. I mean, I almost felt transparent when it was happening to me because it was as though experiencing something no one else could, and responding to it in some way, meant that others could see me. Not the me that I wanted to and which I chose to share to the world. They could see just how poorly my mental health was. They could gain insight into a part of my life which I wanted to hide. A part which I desperately tried (in so many ways) to ignore. And it felt as though considering everything Pixie meant to me and the reasons behind wanting her, she could see that part too. Without even trying. Without me having to become vulnerable – she just knew.
That bond and connection grew and strengthened when, in 2018, Dolly was put to sleep. Becoming a family of two in that way felt as though we’d been thrown through a window and landed in the same place. Like, we’d gone through a massive hardship that would leave wounds and then scars on each of us for a long time to come, but we’d somehow still managed to stay on the same wavelength. We were so in tune with each other through those five or six days when it was just us that it made me so confident in my decision to adopt another cat so soon after losing Dolly. You know, so many people commented that it was ‘too soon’ and that maybe I wasn’t ‘thinking clearly,’ but all I really cared about – all I could think about – was how Pixie and I felt. And I was certain that we both needed a new cat. A third member to our family. And so, Emmy came along.
Another testament to my relationship with Pixie was that I knew the right way to introduce her to Emmy. So many people (yes, professionals included) told me to do it gradually or to not do it at all, but none of these people lived with Pixie and so I felt that whilst they may have years of experience to inspire their advice, that doesn’t mean it’s right for every single family. So, I kind of threw (obviously not literally!) them together and stayed on guard ready to jump in. But that proved to not be necessary because they immediately hit it off and whilst this made me so incredibly happy at the time, looking back, it’s kind of sad because it meant that when we lost Pixie in 2021, Emmy was pretty distraught.
Now, a lot of people will say that they don’t care whether others understand them, their thoughts, their feelings, and their opinions; and whilst that’s largely true for me, there always seems to be an element to me that still wants to attempt to explain things in a bid for others to understand. I think that after years of feeling completely misunderstood and wrongly judged, I’ve come to really, truly appreciate validation from others. And so, when Pixie (at the tender age of four) was put to sleep last year after another bout of gut stasis (a potentially fatal condition that affects the movement of a rabbit’s gut), I was pretty convinced that no one would ever understand my grief because since the day I brought Pixie home, I recognised that rabbits were actually fairly misunderstood by a lot of people. Not many people know the life span of a rabbit and don’t seem to appreciate that their existence in a family is just as important and special as having a dog or a cat.
I think that besides seeing Pixie poorly, my worst memory of losing her was when I had to go home to Emmy empty-handed. I mean, stepping into the house to Emmy sat waiting at the door, I knew I couldn’t just explain the entire thing to her and find comfort in knowing that at least she understood Pixie was never coming back. And this recognition was only intensified when – over the following few days – Emmy kept scratching to be in the cupboard where Pixie’s sawdust and hay had been kept. I absolutely hated the thought that she thought Pixie was just out of sight.
My grief in losing Pixie felt completely unique; totally different from what I experienced in losing Dolly. On the worst days, I felt guilty about this and wondered whether it begged me to question just how much I’d loved Dolly compared to Pixie. But I realised that it wasn’t about ‘how much,’ more that it was the meaning behind our bond. The special qualities I experienced with Pixie meant that the difference in my grief made me feel so out of my depth. I was overwhelmed by all the emotions I felt I was experiencing completely simultaneously. It felt like I was in a boxing ring and these emotions were just punching me and punching me and I was losing my balance and putting so much effort into not just crumbling to the ground and losing the fight.
That notion of being in a fight with my feelings, meant that it took so much longer for me to feel able to add another bunny to the family. I mean, it didn’t take long to feel I should; I knew immediately that I would want/need another bunny; but I also knew that it was really important that I didn’t do that until I felt ready. Until I felt stable and balanced. And (equally importantly) until Emmy did too.
THE DECISION TO PHOTOGRAPH & FILM FROM DAY ONE
I’m, very obviously, a huge fan of social media and the digital world in general. It saddens me that whilst there’s very rightly publicity around the drawbacks of it e.g., trolling, and dangerous ‘trends,’ there’s very rarely anything about the internet saving a life… Something which I would credit it as having done so for me. Not only has blogging provided me with a place to vent, to process my thoughts and feelings in a way which increases my safety and general wellbeing; but I’m NOT Disordered’s success and popularity have also given me so many amazing opportunities that have proven to by fairly monumental in my life and blogging career.
Fortunately, the fact these special moments have been largely to do with my blog, have meant that they’ve all been very well documented. This is something that’s really important to me because there are so many instances from the years my mental health was at its most poorly that I can’t remember at all and only know because someone (usually my Mum but also some professionals) has told me about them. So being able to read about some incredible events and meetings etc, and having photos to look back on, is really indicative of my recovery. It also meant, though, that when I lost Pixie, I felt a bit annoyed that I hadn’t documented more of her life. I mean, I’d take the odd selfie with her or photos of just her and post it on social media, but I think that the level of grief I experienced, left me feeling that those occasional photos weren’t enough. And so, even before getting Luna, I made the decision to create an Instagram account for her and Emmy!
So, when it came to introducing them (the day I brought Luna home) I sat with Luna on my bed and when Emmy came in, I filmed their little introductions…
STRUGGLING WITH THE DIFFERENCE
Whilst Luna was similar to Pixie in the introduction process (not sure if just putting them together could be classed as a ‘process’ though), it became quickly apparent that she has so many qualities that are the exact opposite of Pixie’s…
1. Confidence with others – I think that Luna’s high levels of curiosity really dismiss any sense of nervousness and timid urges to hide when new people come to the house because she really likes to be able to investigate people and give them a good sniff, but then she’ll usually hop off when someone tries to stroke her (strangely this is absolutely not the case when Martin Baker from www.gumonmyshoe.com comes round!)
2. Placidity – Pixie was labelled by the Vets to be the most placid rabbit they’d seen, and you could literally do anything with her (particularly putting her in poses for selfies) – even when Emmy would pounce on her; Pixie would just sit there until she ran off. Luna though, is very flighty and it’s an enormous struggle to keep her still for photos… or for anything really!
3. Hugs – with Luna being so energetic, I’ve had very few big cuddles with her, but there have been a couple of really lovely occasions where she’s given my ankle one of her little head butts and has stayed still for me to pick her up and then she’s really snuggled into my neck and stayed there for a good ten minutes. The fact they rarely happen is probably why I appreciate those moments so much! The reduced exhibits of love compared to the amount Pixie would show meant that for quite a while, I was sceptical as to whether she even loved me! But then, I took her to the Vets for the first time and once she was in the examination table, she literally jumped into my arms (something Pixie used to do!) and I almost felt myself breathe a sigh of relief!
4. General habits & routines – something that Luna and Emmy do which didn’t happen with Pixie, is that they use each other’s water bowls. Luna’s hutch is on the floor in the kitchen, so Emmy just pokes her head in and then hers is on the floor of the sitting room and so Luna – being as small as she is – practically dunks her entire face into it! Also, differently to Pixie, Luna really loves jumping on the bed (I wonder if Pixie couldn’t do that because she was a lot bigger and couldn’t jump as high) and sitting on the window sill. Because Pixie was a lot bigger (she weighed over 4kg more than Luna) I let her go outside with Emmy, but Luna is so small that I have visions of seagulls swooping in and carrying her off! So I think she likes sitting by the open window because she can feel the fresh air and watch Emmy when she goes out.
Similarly, to the torn notion of having Luna in our home forever and feeling that I’d just gotten her, I experienced opposite thoughts and feelings upon noticing the difference in Luna and Pixie. I mean, on the one hand, I felt so disappointed and saddened that some of my favourite qualities in Pixie were completely gone and I felt bad and as though I’d taken things for granted with her because so many people had said Pixie was special in how complacent she was… But I couldn’t really compare her to another bunny, so I thought her normal and I worry that I really took that for granted. And now, Vets say that Luna is more of a normal bunny! That her enormous energy is much more typical.
In contradiction with this sadness, I also felt relieved that Luna was so different. You know, when a pet dies and a person is considering getting another, a common thought process is the certainty and recognition that no pet will ever replace the one you have lost. That feeling was really validated and helped along by the fact that Luna and Pixie are so different, and I can see that as a good thing because it means I’m not reminded of Pixie any more than I already am. It’s lovely to be able to have Luna and see her as a completely different little soul who is so completely special, important, and loved in her own right.
The photo set-up
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