Our cat, Loki, has been on Prozac for a couple of weeks, and it has been a miraculous transformation. I do not say this lightly. A month ago, he was spraying everywhere, scratching his hives, losing hair, and crying if I shut him out of my office.
Now, he does none of these things. And, while I’m relieved that he’s stopped marking our house, and so so happy that he is feeling better, I was not prepared for a change in our relationship.
Pre-medication, Loki was very clingy with me (probably unhealthily so), but I felt like we had a special bond due to our mental illness. When I couldn’t get out of bed, he’d curl up next to me and reassure me with his purr and a paw. I’d wake up in the night sometimes and find him sleeping on my stomach. He followed me around like a constant companion, and I took great comfort in that.
Now that has changed.
I feel like he could care less if I I am there or not. And it hurts, that he doesn’t need me in the same way. It’s silly, I know, but I’ve been dealing with a sense of loss.
Whether you’re a cat person or not, this situation I’m going through is all too familiar for loved ones of the mentally ill.
Medication can affect someone’s temperament, and it can be difficult for those around them to adjust. I think that all I can do right now is practice prayer and patience. Picking him up and hugging him because I’m selfish and want Loki’s affection is not the way to do it (I tried this and have the scratches to prove it). He’s going through a period of adjustment, just like me, and I need to respect that.
And I really am happy for him, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little sad, too.
These past few weeks have been a good reminder that, as hard as living with mental illness is, it can be equally hard on our loved ones.
If you have a story about mental illness—whether personal or concerning a loved one—please consider sharing your experience. Even if you aren’t at a place yet where you feel comfortable disclosing your name, the church body needs your voice. Let’s shine a light on the darkness, together.