Suri

As you can see from the above photo, we have a new family member. Because it felt strange saying I have three cats having still not met the third, I made a date to come straight home at the beginning of the reading week to meet the new arrival: Suri.

Like Lionel, Suri is a former Redgate resident. Apparently there is some controversy over her history, but long story short, she is three, and had previously suffered from cat flu and abscesses before she was given the all-clear. She still has bald patches on three out of four legs, but is none the worse for wear. The staff at Redgate depicted her as liking other cats. She shows Tango and Bouncer how much she loves them by hissing at them and swiping at them when they try to use the stairs. My family collected her on Sunday 15th February and last Monday I finally met her.

The main difference between her and the tabbies, aside from being a completely different colour, is how kitten-like she is. At 10 and three quarters, the boys are getting to that stage in life where they are well used to everything life has thrown at them. They have taken Suri’s arrival in their stride, and having seen Thomas, Lionel and Basil come and go, were probably thinking “Ok, what’s this one going to be like?”. I think we’ve all said how small she is compared to the tabbies, but then we say that about most cats we see! Even the vet said they are at least a quarter longer than the average cat. Mum can’t get over how tiny her paws* are compared to theirs, especially Tango’s – we think if he was a man, he would be a size 14.

Despite her previous health problems, Suri is a lively little thing and wants to be everywhere all the time. When I was there, she was all over the worktop, explored the crockery cupboard and even got into the cupboard where the kitchen knives are kept. Apparently this is normal and shouldn’t be discouraged – that said, I still drew the line at her investigating the cheese box. She loves her food apparently, but (unlike Thomas) knows not to expect it at 5am. She has outdoor access, but seems to approach the outdoors like a newly-released prisoner. So far, 10 seconds at a time is more than enough for her.

It’s hard not to feel like I’m missing out, as this is the first time I haven’t been fully involved in the arrival of a new cat. I do miss having cats, and often worry that the tabbies will forget about me. Having spent so many years running to me when called, Bouncer always gets excited when I come back, however long it has been. Tango, on the other hand, is so docile it doesn’t make much difference whether he remembers you or not. Despite being more timid that Bouncer, he does seem less wary of Suri. Then again he was the only cat who could ever stand up to Basil, by developing a Jekyll and Hyde persona. Clearly we underestimate him.

Changing the subject, I am once again trying a new approach to blogging. The best way to make a blog more successful is to write about a recurring topic. So I was thinking about writing more about special needs based subjects, including posts based on my online Demon articles, such as the last post. I’ll probably write either once a week or every other week and alternate between special needs posts and the usual ramblings about my life. I might also add in the odd bit of creative writing. I always worry I’ll run out of topics, but if I can write about a cat I have only met once, I can’t be doing too badly.

And just so they don’t feel left out, here are the tabbies at their best:

*Suri’s paws, that is. Mum doesn’t have any paws.

University Mental Health and Wellbeing Awareness

Good evening and happy Valentine’s Day! Has anyone else celebrated by having a lovely date with themselves at home, sleeping, gorging on pancakes in front of Netflix and listening to “Single Ladies” on YouTube? As I thought. Only the cool people.

There is also another annual event happening next week, and no, I don’t mean pancake day. No, I mean the little known University Mental Health and Wellbeing Day on Wednesday 18th February. As a regular Demon contributor, I have written a number of special needs themed features for the website, and what better way to raise awareness? As follows:

Mental health. We all have it, it’s all around us. Some know plenty about it, others don’t. Some don’t know how to talk about it while others fear judgement of their own mental health. Which is why this week, universities across the country will be taking different steps towards raising awareness.

Everyone’s heard of depression, bipolar disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, anorexia and many more conditions. Of course we have, awareness is increasing all the time. But it can be hard for anyone in good mental health to grasp the reality and the nature of mental illnesses. I’m guilty; even writing about it is helping me learn more! Think about how many left-handers you know. According to statistics, you may know as many lefties as mental illness sufferers.

Approximately one in ten people in the UK have experienced some form of anxiety related problem. These include panic attacks, phobias and OCD. Panic attacks cause very frightening physical symptoms that can make a person feel suffocated and overwhelmed. Phobias can become so strong they can prevent a sufferer from living an everyday life just from the fear of encountering whatever they are afraid of. OCD is caused by an attempt to reduce anxiety through rigid, repetitive behaviours and thinking patterns.

Then there is depression. It can be hard to distinguish between a sufferer simply being difficult and them really struggling to battle inner despair. The key to this? Be rational, compassionate and open-minded when interacting with them. Cut them a little slack if it helps them, and keep any criticism objective and sensitive. Getting the balance right could mean the difference between stopping the person from spiralling into irrationality and saying the exact things that could push them in that direction.

Eating disorders affect one in 20 young people in their teens and twenties – ten times more girls than boys. Like OCD, these disorders cause people to become stuck in repetitive, unhealthy attitudes towards food. Binge eaters may resort to it for comfort to help mask underlying emotional problems. Anorexics may see their diet as the only part of their life they can control, and will eat as little as possible no matter how much they love food. Worst case scenario, the body will run out of carbohydrates and fats, before eating away at the non-essential proteins and finally the essential proteins. This leads to organ failure and death – a painful way to go, indeed.

The aim of University Mental Health and Wellbeing Day is to promote awareness for all mental illnesses battled by staff and students alike. At DMU, there will be a chance to wear knitted friendship bracelets to represent your willingness to raise mental health awareness. You can also take a poll on whether you would be willing to speak up about your own mental health. If you’re not at DMU, what is your university doing? As I haven’t struggled with mental illness myself, I feel hesitant to end with any advice. But I do know one thing that applies to any life struggles. Whatever your situation, there is always hope.

For the original version, go to: http://www.demon-media.co.uk/?p=9958

The four temperaments: The phlegmatic blends

And now (belatedly) for the last of The four temperaments. I’m still on the fence about how I’m going to use my blog, but to close said theme, I will have a look at my own temperament, the phlegmatic. More specifically…

…Phlegmatic-melancholic: quiet and thoughtful, these people tend to be introverts, but perhaps more people focused than the reverse blend. They are gentle and inoffensive and often hate conflict, due to the peaceful nature of the phlegmatic and the sensitive perfectionism of the melancholic. These two sides to their personality may sometimes conflict with each other. This can mean the difference between being slow to go through with a task and wanting to do it properly. Similarly, phleg-mels can have similar issues with expressing their opinions, as they may want to be heard yet not want to risk offending. It’s not that they don’t have emotions or opinions, its just that they can be slow to experience them and even slower to voice them.

Phleg-mels can be very easy-going about some things and surprisingly over-sensitive about others. If hurt by someone, they may be offended if the other person is wrong or have a crisis in confidence if the other person is right. They may feel uncomfortable with change, with their main motivation towards it being that it’s the right thing to do. For some, they may not be the most fun, exciting company to have, but they are usually kind and reliable, and are content to just listen to others when needed.

Phlegmatic-sanguine: the laid-back, friendly types that most people seem to have in their lives. Phleg-sans tend to be well liked because they are gentle and friendly without being too “in-your-face”. They are the sort of people who seem content with lots of friends or just a few. They can be quick to move on from people no longer in their lives, but also have no trouble welcoming them back. They might not necessarily strive for deep connections with others but are usually happy to be there for people who need them. They are good natured and calm, and fairly adaptable when it comes to people.

They are quieter than the sanguine dominant blends; people may come to them rather than the other way around. However, their combination of inoffensiveness and friendliness may mean that they are more approachable than the other phlegmatic blends. Phleg-sans can be sensitive and insecure, but may just shrug off -or hide – negative emotions, except in a serious crisis. They may struggle with productivity at times, being slow to get started then being easily distracted by anything more interesting. Though they can be quiet, they like social events, and aren’t prone to either hogging the spotlight or lurking in the background.

Phlegmatic-choleric: in fiction, this blend often fits the “Average Joe” type character who somehow always proves their worth when pushed into the spotlight. They are quiet and unassuming, and like to keep to themselves. They are also the most stubborn of the phlegmatic blends, but are very unlikely to blow up in anger. If they ever get angry, they’d be more likely to show it with sarcasm or cold silences than rage. They might be slow to back down in a confrontation, but rarely, if ever, start one. Phleg-chols tend to be fairly unemotional, and are slow and steady in their ways. If faced with undesired change, they may resist it, rather than go with it just to please, or try it before losing interest.

Despite this, phleg-chols can be effective leaders or workers when pushed, as they are steady and competent and aren’t easily worried. They might not like being pushed out of their comfort zone, but usually don’t struggle to deal with it when it happens. They may be level-headed, and are often a calming influence on others, whilst not getting impatient or too emotionally involved with people.

And now to figure out what to blog about next. While I am doing that, have a try at seeing which temperaments fit you or anyone you know. You learn something new every day, after all!