Lying close to you, feeling your heart beating,

And I’m wondering what you’re dreaming,

Wondering if it’s me you’re seeing,

Then I kiss your eyes,

And thank God we’re together,

And I just wanna stay with you in this moment forever.

Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing – Aerosmith

In the almost automatic decision – which didn’t feel like a decision because it felt so predictable and natural(!) – to write a blog post celebrating my kitten’s first Birthday on March 26th, I toyed between writing it as a little letter and writing a full-on, detailed piece about pets and mental health. In the end, I decided to do both! So, here’s Ruby’s letter and on the 26th the other post will go up…

Dear Ruby,

Your first Birthday is proving to be a huge reminder of how far you can come in the space of one year, and that’s left me feeling really proud of just how far you and I have come in that time. How special and incredible our relationship has grown to be and how close we are – to the point where I’m filled with the absolute certainty that we really are soulmates. And the fact you were born on the anniversary of losing my Nana? Well, she always said, “everything happens for a reason,” and I feel like in a way, she sent you to me. That she saw just how desperately I needed you. She saw that despite being so made up that Luna had a new buddy in Gracie, the two of them bonding as well as they almost immediately did, had left me actually feeling really lonely. And, having been in a psychiatric hospital where I was literally surrounded by people 24/7 for the entirety of my two-and-a-half-year admission, loneliness isn’t something I easily cope with. With my mental health already struggling in the beginning of 2023, I was sincerely worried that feeling alone in my own home genuinely had the potential to send me further down the dark tunnel.

All of this meant that making the decision to add you to the family was a complete mixture of being a really obvious conclusion as well as it being challenging and difficult to really determine that I would actually be able to look after you. That I was stable enough and safe enough to care for and be responsible for another life when really, I couldn’t even take care of my own! But, in the end, I recognised that getting you would be the motivation and boost that I needed in order to really get a handle back on my mental health and better manage my safety…

I’ve never been one to blow my own trumpet – that has improved with my blog and its success and popularity have bettered my self-confidence – so, with my mental health, I’ve never felt like I’m a good enough reason to try hard at recovery. I’ve never considered myself worthwhile or important. And so, when I was in the psychiatric hospital years ago, I made the decision to engage in therapy and cooperate with staff for the sake of my Mum and other loved ones. I thought that I would do that until I developed the willpower and determination to do things for myself, but that never really happened… So, I’m almost always looking for a reason to stay safe. Someone or something to make it worthwhile trying; and so, in my mental health deteriorating again in February 2023, my desperation to find that motivation led to my thoughts of getting you, Ruby. And I feel so honoured, so lucky, and so incredibly privileged, to have been right about you; to have been right that getting you has given me so much more drive to reach out and get help when I need it and to do everything in my power to stay safe. You make me work so much harder at my recovery and whilst sometimes, that still isn’t good enough and I don’t always maintain my safety – even now you’re here! – you’ve given me a much better chance at life. A much higher possibility that I will make it through all of this.

This first year with you – if you put all the mental health things from this past year to one side – has been the greatest year ever! I’ve never felt so… alive. You know? I know that sounds strange because the weird thoughts and my struggle maintaining my safety have meant I’ve actually, seriously risked my life numerous times since getting you last year. However, when I’ve been safe and happy and balanced and stable; I’ve never felt so present. So full of life. So positive and productive. And I honestly 100% believe that’s because I have you by my side now. Every time I’ve lost a pet, I’ve felt my heart break a little and have seriously felt that a piece had broken off it – the piece that had belonged to that pet. But you? Well, I feel like you have both filled and mended all those broken bits. That you’re healing me. Saving me.

Aside from being responsible for your little life, another reason why you’ve given me determination is because literally every time I look at you, I find myself thinking; ‘where have you been all my life?’ I mean, it’s unbelievable for me that I’ve only just met you and yet, I feel like you were always meant to end up with me. Like we’re destiny. Soulmates, even. And as I just started struggling with the strange thoughts and all these symptoms – seemingly of psychosis – in February 2023, it feels like perhaps you were brought into my life for this reason. To help save me. To be my forever companion… You know, moving into this home, a lot of people referred to it as my forever home, but with it only have one bedroom I knew it wouldn’t be. And I feel like I actually had that similar sense with my previous pets (Dolly, Emmy, and Pixie). As much as I obviously loved them and cared for them so incredibly unconditionally, I also couldn’t imagine them being here for the rest of my life. I don’t have that with you. It’s like finding a partner; I can seriously imagine growing old with you! I can imagine looking after you when you’re all old and struggling to get around and play as much as you used to. I can see myself snuggling with you during the night for years to come. You are my forever.

Please know that you are always loved and appreciated. That I will never not cuddle into you when you start purring during the night and start making a little spot to snuggle up in to sleep next to me. And that whilst sometimes nothing feels good enough to counteract the strange thoughts and feelings and experiences, that is no dismiss of you. That’s an illustration of their power and influence, not a sign that you aren’t helpful. To be honest, this fact makes me feel angry and sick at the same time because I feel so terrible that these things have that amount of control over me and my safety. But, no matter how out of control I feel, I never want to leave you.

Thank you for being you.

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