Do You Have a Cat? You should get a cat.

In my quest to become super impressive to absolutely no one in particular, I’ve developed a working state of constant stress and self-judgement. It’s my only real complaint in life, and my doctor asks me about it every time we talk—that, and how much caffeine I’m consuming (no connection, I’m sure).

Last week she offered to show me this crazy device she has called an Alpha-Stim—used for “Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation”—which [supposedly] works to lower anxiety. It attaches to your earlobes with little clips and delivers tiny electric pulses, pinprick-like shocks, sometimes alternating sides and sometimes together. It’s the strangest sensation. At first it made me jump, even set to the lowest level, which stressed me out even more in anticipation of the next shock. But, after a minute or so, I settled in and we turned up the power. My body started to feel as though I was swaying from side to side, my vision set back from reality as though I were looking through one of those Magic Eye hidden image posters from the ‘90s, and I could barely feel the pricking. She left me alone with it for a half hour, and gradually my shoulders started to drop, at one point I even felt a click in my neck as the muscles released my spine. I couldn’t say for sure whether it was the machine or the act of sitting still and breathing… probably both… either way I left feeling calmer.

Currently (get it—currently) the Alpha-Stim falls in a sort of grey area—approved as safe by the FDA for treatment of things like depression, PTSD, chronic pain, and insomnia, but “only on the order of a licensed healthcare practitioner,” and in the conditional limbo of “needing further scientific review.” At $800 for the basic model, it isn’t really in my range for home use anyway.

I try a lot of different methods to get my stress level under control: exercise, yoga, eating lots of nachos, more coffee, getting everything done as quickly as possible so I have more time to think about the other things I could be doing to make everything better and more efficient… But there is one home remedy that actually helps: Kaz(!). There’s something about staring into those big, vacant, green eyes while he stares right through mine into oblivion… Imagining the perpetual white noise inside his little kitty head is my equivalent of contemplating one hand clapping. Content cat is content. He sits, he stares, sometimes he sleeps. Kaz doesn’t worry, doesn’t plan, doesn’t judge. Kaz is heavy and likes sunbeams. Kaz eats when he’s hungry, nuzzles for pets when he’s lonely, and runs like crazy when he feels like running like crazy. Kaz keeps it real.

The calm presence of Kaz has soothed me in many moments of overload. If you don’t have a cat, you should get a cat. OH! Aaaand he literally just threw up on my yoga mat. Nice.

Managing Editor for Synthesis Weekly. Amy likes to make clothes, plant flowers, and chase butterflies.