If Depression Is A Dog Then Anxiety Is A Cat

if anxiety was an animal what would it be

There is a wonderful book about depression titled ‘I Had A Black Dog’, by Matthew Johnstone. I don’t think I have ever seen depression summed up so well. I haven’t personally suffered from depression myself, I am more of an anxiety type of gal. I do however know people close to me that have depression, and know just how soul destroying it can be.

Imge credit to the Telegraph

For a few years now I have suffered from anxiety. I have it pretty much under control these days. To write this post I have gone back to difficult times, and tried to remember exactly what it feels like when anxiety strikes. People who don’t suffer from it have no idea what it feels like. Perhaps this article will help enlighten them, and also be something that sufferers can relate to.

I see anxiety as the cousin of depression. I think it’s really useful to think of depression as an animal. A dog that follows you around everywhere. This video is awesome and explains depression perfectly.

It got me thinking, if depression is a black dog, then what animal would anxiety be? I came up with a cat. I actually really don’t like cats, I am allergic to them and they creep me out. Apologies to the cat lovers out there but I am 100% a dog person. Regardless of whether you love or hate cats, I think they have some comparisons with anxiety.

Image credit to catclipart

It may seem like a bit of an obvious one, but just like the black dog, it makes a lot of sense. I think having anxiety is like having a cat living with you.

Here’s why:

Anxiety creeps up on you

 Anxiety can hit you at any time. You will be completely fine and carefree, and then suddenly it creeps up on you. I imagine anxiety kind of like a cat stalking its prey.

There’s actually a video that sums it up pretty well. The one where the cat keeps getting closer and closer to the camera, click here to watch it and if you have suffered from anxiety, you will know what I mean.

Click here to watch the video, ‘stalker cat’. After deciding I think anxiety is like a cat, I can’t watch it now without feeling a little pang of anxiety in my chest.

Anxiety comes and goes as it pleases

 Just like cats, anxiety can come and go as it pleases. Cats might go away for a few days and then suddenly they come through the catflap when you least expect it. They often don’t announce their arrival, unless they want something.

You will be doing something around the house and suddenly notice their presence. Unlike dogs, you can’t really control what cats do, they just roam free and do as they please. It’s the same with anxiety.

Anxiety scratches away at your confidence

cute cat on scratching post

 Cats like to scratch things. I imagine anxiety like a cat scratching away at my skin, pressing and prodding until I finally break.

Or perhaps I am the scratching post, standing tall taking constant scrapes and scratches until I get knocked down.

 Anxiety gets you in its claws and won’t let go

Like a cat, once it has its prey, anxiety won’t let you go. It will hold you in a tight grip and it feels like there is no escape. That is, until you learn how to deal with the cat and not allow it to get a hold of you, which isn’t easy.

It can feel very claustrophobic when anxiety has you in its grip, luck you are being squeezed so tight that it’s difficult to breathe.

Anxiety can attack for no reason

Cats sometimes like to catch an animal just for fun. They don’t always eat their prey, they spend a bit of time taunting it and playing with it or they bring it home to their owner like it’s a prize. Anxiety will attack you for no apparent reason. Perhaps one of the most annoying things about anxiety is when you feel anxious, but you don’t know why.

Everything is fine in your life and you have no reason to feel anxious. Yet still, you feel the tension building. Anxiety is a bit like a cat, teasing you and not telling you what exactly it wants with you. I am the ball of string that the cat is relentlessly tugging at.

Anxiety makes you want to curl up in a box

cat in a box

 Image credit to hownottomarry

Cats adore cardboard boxes. They curl up inside and hide away from the world. This is what I want to do when I have a panic attack.

I want to hide in the box until the panic subsides and I am ready to face the world again.

You can manage anxiety when you notice it’s there

 When a cat is at home, and you know it’s around, you can manage its behaviour and look after it. Anxiety is the same. It’s so much easier to deal with when you know it’s around.

As soon as you notice the early signs of anxiety you can try some coping mechanisms. Or simply say to your anxiety ‘I know you are there’ and ‘you can’t hurt me.’ If you are feeling anxious there are things you can do to prevent it from creeping up and overpowering you.

Anxiety is manageable, if you are willing to try and help yourself. Progress may be slow, but you can make improvements if you learn to live with your anxiety (or cat). You have to accept that it might be around sometimes, and not punish yourself for being unhappy with its presence.

This may sound a bit crazy, but whilst writing this article, I have named my cat, he is called Lucifer and he’s a black cat with yellow eyes. He still visits me sometimes, but I always know when he’s there, and am able to stay calm while I wait for him to go away.

I hope some people find this post useful…xxx

1 Comment

  1. Jo
    December 1, 2019 / 9:51 am

    Interesting; I was calling mine a yellow monster, dealing with both a black dog and a yellow monster becomes extremely difficult at times. I feel seeing it as a separate entity helps and I frequently tell it to push off which can help me feel a little bit more in control, and even when it doesn’t I find it helpful to “fake it until you make it”.

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