19 September 2008

(Getting a) Kitty's a Bitch.

If it has been a little silent around here, it's for a good reason. I've been working my tail feathers off in an effort to get a kitty into my life. It has been difficult and eye opening work.

To get everyone up to speed, I live in an apartment with a no pets clause in my lease. I tried to go about the easy way and ask for an amendment to this policy, offering up what little monies I have as a fee or deposit. Unfortunately, the building's owners are kitty haters. They are really opposed to pet ownership because they think it will lower the value of their property and damage the hardwood floors that they have neglected for decades.

I did learn, however, that the building manager (different than the owner/landlord) thinks I am a "great tenant" and "one of the best, most easy-going and reliable residents" in my building. Furthermore, he respects my commitment to going at this kitty ownership all legal-shmegal. It's nice to know that someone is (sort of) on my side.

Even with this resounding "No!" from the management, I wasn't deterred from the idea of bringing a cat into my home. I started to research my rights as a tenant and I discovered that I could probably get a reasonable accommodation to my lease in order to keep a cat as an Emotional Support Animal. In other words, I could own a cat if it was part of my treatment for my mental health woes and this benefit would be federally protected under the Fair Housing Act of 1988 (among other important statutes that protect the rights of the disabled). To begin the process of making an accommodation, I need a letter stating my case accompanied by a supporting document from my mental health care professional.

I spent a lot of time wrestling with the idea of whether or not I should make claim to the benefits of the disabled. As witness to my cousin Matt's experience with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, I am particularly sensitive to the misuse of disabled privileges. My attempts to recover from severe (and recurrant) depression seemed to occupy a sort of gray area in the scheme of disability. Admitting to myself that I was disabled by mental illness was a difficult process, even though I certainly had proof that I have been unable to work and that my social functioning is impaired as a result of my mental health situation.

I decided that advocating for this specific benefit in the treatment of my mental wellness would be a just cause. It was a conclusion I came to after wondering what Matt's reaction would be were I able to ask him for his opinion on the subject. I'm not one to talk to God or to dead loved ones, so I sort of just ruminated on the topic for awhile. Eventually, I was reminded of Matt's relationship with his cat, Sox. This cat was probably one of the best things in my cousin's life. Not only did Sox bring Matt companionship, she provided him with an outlet to relate to other people. I know that I loved to talk to Matt about cats and about adventures Sox was up to rather than his other passion (and Sox's namesake)-- major league baseball.

Working on this project has made me realize that I am still very sick. It took me three days of arduous labor to write a 2 page email to my psychiatrist requesting his support, a letter to my landlord requesting reasonable accommodation to my lease, and a list of 17 terms I was willing to bring to the table as a part of my negotiation with my landlord. Had I been healthy (and had this subject been about something not tied to my emotions), I think this sort of work would have taken me an hour or two tops. I've spent a majority of my time since working on this project feeling drained and exhausted. I've shed more tears than I care to count. The only thing that seems to lift my spirits is a trip to the Cattery at the Humane Society.

Today marked the 48 hour point from when I first sent the request to my doctor. Expecting at least a response of, "let's talk this over at your appointment," by now, I have decided that I need to take more drastic measures. Ordinarily I would follow up with another email at this point, but I've seen red flags aloft. I don't want to get too into the nitty gritty of things, but my doctor is always a little sensitive that he is doing something wrong and he probably thinks that I might try to replace social interactions with people for the attention of my cat. I call bullshit on both counts.

I have decided to create an informational packet for my psychiatrist in time for my next appointment. It will be half dramaturgesque research, half sales pitch. I am including case studies of emotional support animals, a sample letter from a physician in support of my cause, and one of my world famous kitty collages. I plan to create a research study in support of my cause, surveying people outside the coffee shops around the corner. If anyone is interested in writing a statement in support of my cause (approx. 500 words), I will provide you with a color copy of my collage.

This request has put me in a difficult position. I'm going to think that my doctor is a total shithead if he says no. I'm also deep enough into the muck of this therapy thing that I can't willingly give up on my course of treatment.

In the past, I've been willing to concede to opposition in order to keep peace. This is different. This is not a negotiation. This is a fight I am going to win. My talons are sharpened. My teeth are bared. I am getting a god damn kitty.



Edit: After reading this entry in my Google Reader Feed, I can sort of see that this entry is dripping with exhaustion (example: 3rd paragraph from the end=my cause my cause my cause). But I'd like to let everyone know that I am totally serious about the statement writing.

3 comments:

Kurticus said...

Heterosexual marriages are easier to come by these days, get yourself that meowza already!

k. crow said...

Help me out, Kurticus! Who will I have to meow at me and give me hugs when you move to Chicago?

Mead said...

Oh no. Please tell me that boy's not moving to Chicago. It's a vertiable stampede these days! Is Chicago like the new Portland or something?? Fill me in, k.crow!