As I sat here at my desk – depressed, exhausted, in pain – I had an idea for a cartoon I wanted to draw. Unfortunately, even my cartoon animals don’t look anything like they do in my head, so I ended up searching for cat pictures to do the same thing. And so I present unto you, my unified cat theory of comorbid illnesses:
I uploaded it to imgur so that it can be easily shared on reddit and elsewhere. You can click on the graphic to see it full size on the page.
A lot of chronic illness sufferers get told that their problems are “all in their head.” Well, sure, insomuch as anything is in our heads because our brain controls our bodies. And brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) are responsible for more than one function in our bodies, so when one thing gets thrown out of whack, others can quickly fall like dominoes.
Or…like a bunch of cats in a basket. In my head. Upset one cat, and he starts yowling. Pretty soon, all of the cats are yowling. It really doesn’t matter which cat starts it. This time, depression cat started things off. Other times, it’s CFS cat or pain cat. And sure, sometimes one or two of the cats decide to sit something out, but it’s rarely just one cat at a time. Misery loves company, you know.
But just because depression cat started it doesn’t mean that the rest of it is all “in my head.” Depression is a biologically based illness, too, and it can be triggered by emotion from external factors. (Like my dad having cancer.) All of those neurotransmitters start shooting out all over the place, and soon my body is overwhelmed by signals controlling my appetite, my energy levels, my muscle pain, my nerve pain, my arthritis pain, and everything else. By this point, even if the emotional trigger resolves itself – which is hasn’t – the physical systems are still firing away under their own steam.
And once you let those cats out of the bag, you know you’re not getting them back in. Those cats won’t settle down until they’re good and ready to, and not a moment earlier.
Thanks to the great cat photographers who made this possible:
- George Hodan, depression cat
- Tim Vickers, CFS cat
- Gazio, anxiety cat
- Hannibal Poenaru, pain cat
- Crusier, gastrointestinal cat
As such, this image uses Creative Commons Licensing:
Unified Cat Theory of Comorbid Illnesses by Christina Gleason is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on a work at http://WELLinTHIShouse.com/unified-cat-theory-of-comorbid-illnesses/6400/.