The academic year of 2016/2017 was one of the most stressful of my life. It started out well enough but pretty soon, the novelty and the excitement of being in a whole new place was gone and I was just left with my old self. People look at me and think I’m probably the happiest person on earth but I am actually one of the saddest. I’m not wearing this as a badge of honour. I know it’s really sad and awful. I’ve tried very hard to get to where I am now, which is a better state of kind with less self-harming and suicidal thoughts and zero self-harming and suicide attempts. For now, this is as good as it gets for me.
In 2017, I had my thesis coming up and I was so confused and scared because I didn’t know if I could do it and still pass. And a lot was riding on my passing: my entire future and my mental health. While I was floundering, the best gift I could have ever got came into my life; my little baby J.
Honestly, he was the cutest little thing (and now he’s the cutest big thing). someone had actually abandoned the poor darling by the side of a highway in a box. He’d been rescued by a group of people and taken back to their dorm rooms, after which the kitten had changed hands a lot. Probably because nobody knew what to do with this tiny kitten (no more than one month old at the time by my estimate). In the end, one of my friends brought him in because this girl who had him didn’t quite know what to do (J had peed on her mattress!). Anyway, that was the best night of my life because my little J came into my life and was about to make it approximately a bajillion times better.
It was a real challenge to take care of him. A tiny room on campus isn’t really the place for a small and energetic kitten to grow up in. But he didn’t really have a choice. Keeping him outside was not an option. No one was really willing to adopt him. So I decided I would do what I could to take care of the little tyke. Initially, the idea was for me to take care of him until we could find him a lovely forever home. Which didn’t happen. So I begged my parents and fed them a sob story and they let me bring him home. He lives with me now. And pretty soon, I’ll be going off to study again and he will be going with me.
Our first five months together were fun but also insane. I had to keep him a secret from the other people in the building as well as the maids who came to clean because we weren’t allowed pets. It was, as I said before, really difficult. As I spent more and more time with little J, I realised I could not give him away to anyone. It would break my heart. And he ended up helping me in more ways than one.
With him, I was no longer afraid of sleeping alone and in the dark in my room, so far away from home. He was a constant source of entertainment, with his little antics and absolute nuttiness. He made that little room the best place to be for me. He would always be so happy whenever I came back to the room and would spend ages cuddling with me because he had missed me. I tell you, there is no feeling in the world like being welcomed home with so much love because you had actually been missed. And when time to work on my research rolled around, little J was my rock.
My friends had all gone back home for the summer holidays and I didn’t really know anyone else at that campus. I was very alone and very worried about my future. I ended up spending almost all my time on WhatsApp, chatting with my friends. That made up the bulk of my human interaction that summer. But I didn’t really talk to my friends about how I was feeling because they had their own problems and talking about my own would only have made me sadder. Those days spent working on my thesis were really tough and I struggled a lot. It got so difficult I seriously considered cutting myself again, something I had not done since I got there. I even considered suicide because I couldn’t deal with the stress from the pressure I had put on myself. But trusty little J was always there, trying to hunt houseflies and falling on his little butt, always there to make me laugh, always there to comfort me with a cuddle and a head rub.
We did a lot of things together. We would hang out and watch movies together. We would eat cheesy pizzas from Domino’s together. He would help me write my thesis by sitting on my lap and comforting me. And sometimes, he would type a few paragraphs for me with his butt (it was mostly nonsense, but hey, he tried). After I’d finish my work session, he would lie on me or next to me and fall asleep.
And somehow, I saw the research through and earned my degree. And I know that without little J, I could not have done it in a million years. He kept me sane when I couldn’t do that for myself. He made sure I had a reason to get up off the bed (to feed him and clean his litter box). He saved me from self-harm and suicide by just being there for me when no one else was or could be. He saved me. And I will forever be grateful to him. And I made a promise to myself and him that no matter what, I would keep him with me because no one else will care for him the way I do but mostly because I can’t do without him. He is my life. He keeps me going when nothing else can. He is my everything and I consider myself as the luckiest person ever. I didn’t adopt him, he adopted me.