Friday, June 10, 2011

Another One Like Me

In which we set out on a small journey, encounter a sage, and receive a gift.

I have never known a cat, or a toddler, who would not greet one of their own. The greeting may not always be friendly, but always there is acknowledgment. A fellow cat, a fellow toddler, is never ignored.

Watch two toddlers encounter each other in a room of adults. Each child may be oblivious to the other adults, save their own caregivers. Or not. Some children seem quite gregarious, greeting and interacting with everyone in sight, true sanguines. But even the shyer, more reserved toddlers will seek out other toddlers, will want to play, to interact. It's as if there's some deep recognition: another one like me.

In my decade of feral cat watching, I've noticed the same phenomenon amongst my feline neighbors. Let two cats pass one another in  yard or alley. They will acknowledge one another.  The greeting may be friendly: tails held vertical, at right angles to the body, happy sniffings and rubbings. It may be grisly: backs arched, yowlings and growlings and hissings, a display of force, a statement of territory. Or it may be something in between: an ear twitch, a rump wiggle, a tail flick. There are many gradations, and the language of cats is subtle.

Only humans know to shun their neighbors.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What Does Depression Feel Like?

  • Everyone, will at some time in their life be affected by depression -- their own or someone else's, according to Australian Government statistics. (Depression statistics in Australia are comparable to those of the US and UK.)

When I was in my mid twenties, I read a novel called "Smart Women" by author Judy Blume. I don't remember, now, much of the plot. Something about three divorced women who became friends, the adventures and misadventures that resulted. Here's what I do remember: one of the characters, one of the women, had a complete and total nervous breakdown (as they called them then. Today, the preferred term seems to be "major depressive episode.")

At the time, I was divorced, living in a small town with three small children, juggling dating and parenting and career. I had a bright, shiny new bachelor's degree, and was working as a junior accountant in a public accounting firm, pursuing the CPA designation for all I was worth. From within that context, I read about this character's breakdown.