A friend on Facebook shared a little image that got me thinking.
The image is a cartoon by Peter Chiykowski of RockPaperCynic.com. It’s called In Defense of Teddy Bears.
This spoke to me for a number of reasons, mostly for the fact that I’ve always had a teddy bear or some sort of stuffed animal with me.
I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I was diagnosed about 4 years ago, but hindsight being 20/20, I can safely say I’ve had it my whole life. Even before I had a name for my condition, I’d always found that soft cuddly things, like stuffed animals, helped calm me down. This might be why I have such a massive collection of stuffies.
I’ve always preferred stuffed animals to most other toys, partially because they can be hugged and squished without worry they’ll be damaged or broken.
I remember reading in a Cosmo article (back when I actually gave weight to the garbage in that mag) that after a certain age, a woman needs to send those stuffies to Goodwill because a REAL LIVE ADULT WOMAN wouldn’t have such things around their home. So, being young and stupid and trying to figure out how to adult in this world, I shoved most of the stuffies I had out of sight so I could be a REAL LIVE ADULT WOMAN.
Now that I’m well into my 30s, I realize just how ridiculous that advice was. It’s amazing how much clarity you gain once you pass the age of 29. There’s stuffies on the bookshelves in my living room, out in the open when people can see them. Do I care that some might think that childish? No, fuck those people! You don’t need that shit like that in your life!
The fact is, I need a stuffed animal with me. It doesn’t make me weak and less of a REAL LIVE ADULT WOMAN to have one. It’s part of how I’m able to survive in this world.
When I’m on little road trips or on a plane and there’s the potential for an increase in anxiety, I bring this little guy with me:
He’s a Highland cow that I got in Scotland 10 years ago. He’s small and easily concealed—there are definitely situations when a stuffie doesn’t need to be out in the open, so he’s a good one to have.
And then there’s the situation I find myself these days: I live on site in a remote location where I’m the only woman for miles, surrounded by men with no proper locks on the doors to my living space.
Guess what? Sometimes I wonder if I’m truly safe, and that makes me anxious. So I have two stuffies with me out here.
Like the comic says, a teddy bear, or a bunny, or a little cow will “make you remember how to be a person.” I feel more like a person with these stuffies nearby, knowing that I can put all that fear and anxiety in them and they’ll still be there the next time. We all need coping mechanisms, so who cares if that’s in the form of an animal that you keep on your bed or your couch?
We can still be REAL LIVE ADULTS and have a teddy bear.