Lessons from Martha and the Cone of Shame

February 27, 2018

My family is made up of the wonderful Mr P, two Angel babies (Smudge and Splodge), two furbabies (Arthur and Martha), and a crazy budgie (Nam-b).

Martha is currently wearing the Cone of Shame. She is, quite p*ssed about this - to put it as nicely as possible. I get that it is harsh and she really won't be enjoying it, but I do have moments of finding it slightly humorous that when the cone is put on she freeze-frames and hardly moves at all. Yes, that possibly means there is a little evil lurking inside me, but given how much I love this girl, I know the love outweighs the evil so much.


It's random that I am learning something from Martha, but not entirely random given there are opportunities to learn from everything we see and do throughout our day, we just need to be open to seeing them.


Yes, admittedly, yesterday I was pretty stressed with Martha's situation; worried that she wasn't eating or drinking, worried that she was so unhappy, worried about how she would get on when I wasn't around, worried about how Arthur would treat her, and given he can be a bully, how would she defend herself, and will this scar her? See, I can worry and over-worry like a proper pro!


Anyway, back to the lesson I am learning from my little furball. She has this random sore on the top of her back. It first appeared in September 2016 as a red raw sore. Multiple visits to the vet, we were none the wiser, but a combination of shaving / cleaning / steroid / antibiotic cream, and it healed up. It wasn't seen again until January this year. We did the cleaning thing, it was healing, and when she went and had her teeth cleaned, they pulled the scab off (sorry) and were happy with what they saw, so we thought that was the end of it.


Nope! It came back; red raw sore, same place. Phone calls with the vet and it was back to washing, don't worry about the other cream, just clean. Cleared up. Came back. More cleaning, and yes, use the cream. Cleared up. Came back. Nothing has changed in our set up, there's no additional stress in the house, so there's nothing to point at as an explanation. 


So, we don't know where it comes from, but we have worked out, that it clearly irritates her, and even once it's healing / healed, she continually licks the area. Mr P and I discussed that a collar might be the only way to stop her licking and at the vet yesterday he confirmed the same. He said that her licking now will be a habit in that area and because a cat's tongue is so rough, and the area sensitive, it is likely that she is causing it to reoccur.


What's my point? How often do we do the same thing over and over again and get annoyed that we experience the same results over and over again? How many times do you think we do this without even consciously realising we are doing it? How often do we do things that might feel good (Martha licking an itchy patch) in the short term, but cause unwanted results in the longer term (the cone of shame) and mean things like: we are in unhappy relationships, a job we don't like, or we have health issues. On reflection and with real honesty, how many of these have been created or compounded by things that we have done to ourselves?


I have Bipolar. I have had depression on and off for years. If my depression was dealt with early on, not just with antidepressants but with therapy, to understand some of my unhealthy thinking patterns and beliefs about myself, would I be where I am today? (I don't mean the positive self exploration journey I'm on currently, but at least the previous four years of hell). Who was responsible to see that I received the help that would be most beneficial? When I was younger I was of course led by the decisions of my GP at the time, and 30 years ago who didn't trust their GP? Now however, I am responsible, and to be honest, I've been responsible for a good few years. 


30 years ago there were some negative comments from my father about the fact that I was prescribed antidepressants, and honestly, those comments, and the feelings they created, stayed with me for a number of years, and contributed to me feeling embarrassed and ashamed about the way I felt, and that maybe it was better to keep those thoughts and feelings to myself.


I felt that because I couldn't cope with what I was faced with, or didn't react in the 'normal / right / expected' way, that it was my fault. I felt ashamed that I wasn't like everyone else around me. And so I didn't delve any deeper. Who wants to do that, or would even know how to at a relatively young age? The next time I was depressed, a few years later, I had similar thoughts and feelings - I can't cope, it's my fault, no one will understand, keep it to myself, get on with it, pretend everything is fine. All this did was push these thoughts and feelings further down and bring the embarrassment and shame to the surface. And just like that an unhealthy cycle is born.


I know a lot more now, and as a world, in general, we know a lot more. Throwing antidepressants at the first sign of mild depression is not necessarily the best solution. Talking therapy, understanding ourselves and how we think and process our thoughts and feelings is much more helpful. And interestingly, where Bipolar is concerned, antidepressants can actually make it worse.


I could go on about this for hours (and probably will in future posts!) but my point (and the connection with Martha) is - 


if we do what we have always done, 

we will always get what we've always gotten


Something that gives us short term gratification may actually be harming us, and if our eyes aren't open and we're not prepared to dig a little deeper, we may never know, and we may end up in a place we really don't want to be, and may not be equipped to deal with it.


Sometimes pleasure causes pain. Sometimes it's worth it. Sometimes it's not. We are the best judge of this for ourselves, but we should never be embarrassed to reach out and get help from those who are experienced and have the knowledge to help us. 


And sometimes, like Martha and Arthur, we just need someone to sit with us and feel our pain.

Sending lots of love for the best day you can have, Becs xxxx

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