For the Love of One Fur Ball

When my daughter was four years old, she asked for her first pet. Instead of coming to us, her parents, she went to her nursery teacher and told her she wanted a baby rabbit.

Mama rabbit, the class mascot, was a breeding machine. Every school term, she had a litter of five or six kittens. Twenty children put their names on the list and endured weeks of patience for their long-awaited bunny.

We could have said no to our child, but we were inexperienced parents. We did not want to feel emotional guilt when those pleading eyes burned a hole right through our soul. So, we agreed. Our family was about to get bigger, but little did we know what havoc the new arrival would wreak.

We spent a lot of time pouring over catalogues; strolled through numerous pet shops to get the best bedding and toys, and even compared different nutrition brands. At last, we were ready to welcome Thumper, a white bunny with red eyes. He was fluffy and cuddly, and it was instant love.

My daughter had a furry friend, but no way was she old enough to be a responsible owner. So, we took it in turns to be the carer, while she spoilt him with cuddles and let him roam free. Like our child, he was given what we thought he needed – nutritious food, toys, and gadgets. But we forgot the most important thing:  bunny proof our home.

And so, it began . . .

One day I noticed water leaking from the freezer. When I opened the door, I got a shock. Every item in it had defrosted and needed to be thrown away. Somehow, the electrical lead at the back of the freezer had been chewed.  A few days later, we had a visit from the telephone company. Friends and relatives had reported not being able to get in touch with us for two weeks. The phone cable had been chewed.

How can a rubber-coated wire taste better than hay or pellets?

We built Thumper an outdoor pen in the garden where he could be free to chew anything he wanted to his heart’s content during the day. He was happy and so were we. He lived happily-ever-after.

Fast forward to 2018. Another house. Another country. Another birthday. Another request.

“I want a pet rabbit,” said the same daughter with the same pleading tone in her voice.

“Nooooo!” was my reply.

Two days before her birthday, we went and got Romeo, a brown and white rabbit. We did not spare any pennies for his diet or toys. Did we forget something? But of course. We forgot to bunny proof our home. Again!

And the fun began . . .

And it is still going.

Cables chewed, wallpaper ripped, Persian rug damaged. We turn our back for a second and the irreparable damage is done. So often that we have become expert at organising a next day delivery with Amazon. When everyone is asleep, Romeo would stomp his foot until one of us would get up to tell him to be quiet, or to warn him where he could end up the following Easter.

But how can we stay mad for long? We cannot. He melts our heart when he follows us around and stands on his hind legs begging for a treat. When he joins me in a wild dance, hopping around my feet. Or, when we are sitting at the dinner table, he comes and nudges our feet asking for a head massage. All wrongs are forgotten.

 The power of love

One can wonder if we did not learn from our mistake first time round. The thing is, once we commit ourselves to take care of another body, we commit to love them warts and all. Yes, love can be blind, and it has led to the happiness of the whole family relaxing together with Romeo laying in his proud sphinx position.

Besides, having a pet can lower your blood pressure, reduce cholesterol in the blood and increase the level of serotonin and dopamine. I admit we need to be better prepared before taking on such a big responsibility, but material things can be replaced. Would I get another rabbit in the future? Most definitely.

Sucked in a Vaccum of Loneliness

I had been feeling a bit ‘meh’ these past few weeks as if I were being sucked in a vacuum of loneliness. Though surrounded by a loving family, a job and friends that kept me busy, I was losing my grip on reality. My world was sinking bit-by-bit. As the days went, it became difficult to get my butt into gear and I lost interest in anything that previously engaged me.

I did not pay any attention to my wellbeing until one morning I woke up with the feeling that I could not be bothered to get out of bed. On the first day I permitted myself a couple extra hours of lie-in, but when hours turned into days, I understood something was not right. Hard as I tried to stay in the present, my mind became overwhelmed by too many thoughts and doubts and I was sucked in the black hole.

Despite all that, I wanted to stay connected with family and friends and relied on social media as a form of communication. Barely out of bed, I got into the habit of checking Facebook posts and WhatsApp messages. I continued with videos on Youtube and TikTok. However, it got too much, because soon enough, I came to despise receiving calls and emails. I believe I was experiencing burnout.

Sometimes the worst place you can be is in your own head.

I am one of the sensitive people who gets affected by weather conditions, although never been diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). On and off I seem to experience a sort of depression. My ideal temperature is around 18-20 degrees Celsius. Anything higher gives me a rash and sun stroke. Anything below 10 degrees, feels like the artic.

In winter months, I always know when it will snow. My knees start to ache, and I feel a permanent chill in my back. Whenever I mention it, my kids roll their eyes. They think it is old wives’ tales, though science has proven that changes in the atmospheric pressure can affect the fluid in our bones. In cold weather, when the fluid decreases, our bones grind against each other and the pressure leads to pain.

We all know sunshine improves our moods and wellbeing. Nevertheless, when we get four seasons in a day or week, the weather can play a trick on our mental health. On Easter day, with a temperature of 18 degrees Celsius, the weather was glorious. While every English man and his dog were bathing in the midday sun, I was the unsociable one who hid within the safety of my home. I preferred venturing out at dawn or dusk. Could one of my ancestors originate from Transylvania?

The next day however, on Easter Monday, the temperature dropped by 10 degrees. A cold front from the Arctic spread across the UK making it feel more like below freezing. In the following days, we would see snow, rain, and wind. Then we were back to high 20s temperatures. With all these fluctuations, my mental state did not know which tune to dance to. I am certain my moodiness, irritability, and tiredness affected those close to me even though they never retaliated.

“It’s okay not to be okay as long as you’re not giving up.”- Karen Salmansohn

I appreciated I would not achieve anything productive if I let myself feel like that. My priority was to get out of that procrastination vacuum. If I did not do something about it, I would continue to suffer in silence and hurt my loved ones in the process. I took it upon myself to find a way to keep distracted and inspired. I set a goal as to what I could achieve. I made a small list while visualizing what I needed to do, at the same time accepting that not all had to be done on the same day. Baby steps.

But by putting my intention on paper, I had taken all those overwhelming thoughts out of my head. Hence, I felt less pressure. I then turned to the only therapy I felt happy with. Dance. I created a new vacuum but this time, full of happiness. Although not a great dancer but when I blared some hip music and gyrated around my kitchen, all fears disappeared. Plus, I did not need any equipment to feed my Fitbit and increase my serotonin level. All in all, it was a win-win.

We can’t always choose the music life plays for us, but we can choose how we dance it.