Perhaps that's a slight exaggeration but considering the fact that it involves the harbouring of an unlawful guest within the perimeters of my home - I think it's a fair depiction. Now, before you go any further, know that this may change how you see me; not that I necessarily care but I feel the need to prepare you for a possible shift in your perception of me. You may start to see me as a bit of a - villian.
A criminal, even.
Before the judgement and criticism commences, allow me to take you back to early 2018. A year that saw a severe decline in my mental health and quite frankly, my sanity (which I haven’t quite regained.) This is far from an excuse for my actions that followed but it's partly the reason.
I sat in a small room with doctor…(I forgot the importance of an alias when it comes to these things) Doctor…Doctor Placebo. I sat there trying to explain how the concoction of medication he had prescribed had left me on the verge of harming myself. Incapacitated with a barrage of crying spells and terrifyingly closer to my end than I had been before. I felt it – in my very core and those pill bottles began to terrify me. So I stopped taking them, just like that.
Doctor Placebo eyed me wearily, I couldn’t tell if there was pity or sadness in his eyes; probably a bit of both. He had been trying since the previous year, to find the fitting gauze for this deep lesion but he probably felt as though he was doing more harm than good. Multiple brews of this and that and still, I was a mess. Now, I was the one pitying him – I appreciated his efforts and his time. I appreciated him. This elderly man that listened to my rotting thoughts and tried so hard to remove the decay and ripen what remained, but there was only so much he could do.
“You know, I used to be a general practitioner and I’ve been transitioning into mental health.” Something he had already mentioned but why again? He looked through some papers on his desk as he pursed his lips together and then I realised it. A soft sigh left his body and he looked up at me. “But you need more help than I can offer. I’m going to refer you to one of our psychiatrists on campus, okay?”
I nodded, sorely. This was the end of Doctor Placebo and I and a slight tinge of sadness hovered over me. You get used to someone – especially someone who tries to understand the hardest thing there is to a human being; the brain. I mean, it’s you.
I watched as the doctor typed away and printed several documents, probably noting subject failed. He shifted his attention to me and smiled that tired smile of his that I had grown quite fond of. You must understand that this man spent months trying to help me, even if his dangerous brews were not the best and he may have been criticized for not being very fit to assist a chronic sufferer of clinical depression. I picked my bag up, dreading the aspect of leaving that quiet little room. There were other faces outside that door; bodies of people that I didn’t want to see because…anxiety? But who understands such an irrational fear. Who understands that it’s possible to drown in a sea of people? I stood up and thanked the man that had been trying to. The man who had shared his own struggles with me and the man who had listened to me. He wished me only the best as I did him.
“Doctor Placebo…” I mustered, softly before walking out. “Remember when I mentioned that I think animals can be a great support system for our mental health?”
“Of course, I do.” He was grinning now.
“Well, I just wanted to share with you that I got myself a pet. A rabbit.”
There was a little sparkle in his aging eyes and he questioned me further about my new furry friend; mentioning his own dogs as he had done many months before. He supported my little hypothesis then and in that moment, he supported it once more.
It was true, I really did get a pet but here’s the thing…I had to keep it a secret and here’s why.
No pets allowed!
That had always been the agreement I had with the landlord. The one condition that was placed upon me and I respected it. No pets? Okay, cool! There’s therapy dog’s on campus anyway, I would tell myself and besides, it’s not like I wanted a pet. Until I started to derail and a desperation for something new and different started to gnaw at me. I withdrew from everyone and everything, I don’t know how it happened but it did. Until one day, a trip to broaden the hallow frown that had sat on my face for far too long led to an affair that remains even now. I met, Churro. She could fit into the palm of my hand and it was so…comforting, having this little thing burrow itself into my warm flesh; perhaps seeking comfort too.
I don’t know – it was just cute. It was nice. It felt special, but I knew it couldn’t be, I couldn’t break the damn agreement I had just because of a small creature that was soft and cute. Do you know how ridiculous that sounds? Why would anyone do the one thing they’re not supposed to do? I wasn’t a child. I had to be rational and mature about it.
Yet, I wasn’t. I broke the rule and just like that – I had a pet. A rabbit was in my room, on my bed, in my house. It happened and I wasn’t going to take it back. She was mine now and I was going to take very good care of her – and I did.
I had this new friend that depended on me and…needed me. The process of keeping this little creature brought a little light into my dimming world and it was something beautiful. Churro grew before my eyes; a small secret seemingly getting bigger but I never feared getting caught. Okay, okay. That’s a damn lie, but I was prepared to face the consequences of my actions.
The docile creature caused no chaos and was not a disruption to anyone or anything – she was only a little piece of joy that this whole house needed. So, that’s it. I have a pet when I really shouldn’t and whilst it’s not illegal where I am, it’s just heavily frowned upon. So, maybe I’m not a criminal after all but it’s been over 2 years and Churro is thriving, happily and healthily. She hops wildly throughout this house and with the sun shining – she basks in the garden with her little mane of gold. How could I dare regret something that has brought me nothing but peace? I mean – okay, it might not be so peaceful if my landlord happens upon her but I have to say, I don’t regret it. Not even a little.
Some days, I get very sad and I turn to play with Churro – wondering if she can feel my sad heart caving in. In my quietest moments, she’s there, watching me and sometimes galloping all over me in a bid to steer my attention from anything else that isn’t her. Whatever bond can exist between a human and an animal is one that I share with this little creature and if one day I find myself evicted for it, then so be it. Maybe another one of my exaggerations but man, what a story that would make.