Ten years ago, I shared a post on Facebook. It was about my life between 20 and 30. I wrote ”Now I’m not 20 anymore”. But now I’m not even 30 anymore. I was thinking of sharing the post again or telling what I had written. But when I read it, I realized something. It wasn’t the truth. It was a fantasy world I had created to hide my bad well-being. I painted my life as fantastic, just to keep up the nice facade.
I had a four-year relationship that ended in December 2015. Although that relationship did not always lift me up mentally, but it was still the relationship that led Cooper and Kira into my life. And even though life plummeted on that snowy December day and I was faced with the choice between life and death, I regret nothing. That mental bottom had to be hit during 2016-2017 for me to understand what was important in life. Because without Cooper and Kira, you would have never read this post. It was these two naked animals that saved me when I kept getting stuck in a dead end with my thoughts. Thoughts that were so dark that I didn’t even wish for my worst enemy to experience them.
I also want to tell you that I started our Instagram in January 2016. I shifted focus from my private Facebook page where I had shared pictures of Cooper and Kira for several years. The reason I switched to Instagram was initially because I didn’t want to overwhelm my friends with cat pictures. Then they could choose for themselves if they wanted to follow us to Instagram. What started as a solution to a problem became something much bigger and better than I could ever have dreamed of. Because without you who follow us on Instagram, my life would have been much more boring. You brighten up my life and give me hope that there is goodness in the world.
Most people know that I openly started talking about my mental health in 2018. That’s when I got an article published in the magazine Kattliv about how Cooper and Kira saved my life. I described how their unconditional love helped me find my way in the chaos among my thoughts. You can read the article HERE. After that, Aftonbladet and Hemmets Journal also found out about our story. (You can also find them on our website).
At the end of the summer of 2018, I entered into a new relationship. It was with my teenage love whom I had been together with when I was 19 years old. But we quickly realized that we had grown apart as adults and at the beginning of 2020 we went our separate ways.
And since I often get the question “Are you single?” on Instagram, I want to take this opportunity to tell you through this post that I have been single since January 2020.
Do I enjoy being single? Absolutely. Do I long for love? Of course! But I don’t mind being alone and I don’t want to get into a relationship just for the sake of it. Then it’s not just about me. It’s very important to me that Cooper and Kira like the woman who will come into their lives. Cooper is not a good judge when it comes to ladies, because he loves everyone. Then I have to rely on Kira, who is more careful about who she lets in. If you can win her heart, you probably have a good chance of winning mine too.
In July 2020, The Dodo made a mini-documentary about Cooper and his passion for water. It felt like recognition for me. Even though I had had a very tough time for several years, I had still managed to show the love that existed here at home between me and the animals. The video quickly got over 50 million views and has reached people all over the world.
Then came that warm summer day in 2022 when I wrote a blog post for the website. When I read through the post, I got an idea, why not write a whole book instead? I must admit that I have received several messages on Instagram where people have wondered the same thing. But I have never thought that our story is so special.
I have struggled with the text for the book to make it as honest as possible. Where nothing is beautified and where the story is told exactly as terrible as it was. Because that was my promise from the beginning, nothing would be hidden. I have shed many tears along the way. Thoughts like, no one will like what I write and why don’t I give up? have plagued me many times. Then I realized that this book is needed. It is precisely this realization that has made me continue. That we must continue to talk and write about mental illness.
But I can also say that I have laughed at least as much as I have cried during the writing period. My book should not be just darkness, I decided that early in the process. Since the main characters are Cooper and Kira, you understand that it is impossible not to smile.
In short, the book is about how our four-legged therapists take care of us every day. How they can transform tears into laughter in just a few seconds and how they give us unconditional love. My hope is that you will have an aha experience when you read the book.
Those thoughts that no one would like what I wrote quickly disappeared when offers from book publishers started coming in. I had four publishers after me in just six weeks. And in the end, the choice fell on a smaller publisher who had the experience I was looking for. They really understood my story and felt very personal. According to the schedule, the book will be released in early April 2024. (First in swedish)
It’s not just the book that has been something completely new for me this year. I am a person who has always avoided closeness from people. This behavior goes back as far as I can remember. I remember being forced to hug my friends at daycare. Inside, I just wanted to flee. And the few times my parents hugged me, I wanted to rush up to my boy room and lock the door. As an adult, this behavior has continued, which has led to many question marks in my relationships. Why, you may wonder? At first, I thought it was as simple as our macho culture making me like this. But then all men would dislike closeness. I think a lot is due to the fact that I don’t dare to receive closeness from people because I have always been afraid of being hurt. Because if I keep people at a distance, I won’t suffer the day they betray me. That’s why a hug or closeness has always felt fake to me. My overthinking has always reasoned, what’s the point of hugging when everything will go wrong later anyway. This illogical thinking has only led to people disappearing from my life.
But for the first time in 40 years, I can finally appreciate closeness and take in that someone cares about me. That overthinking no longer starts when I get a hug. Instead of fleeing from a hug, I seek it out. I have learned to enjoy the physical contact that I previously avoided and I feel safe in someone’s arms. It is a big change for me who has lived with fear and insecurity for so many years.
Thank you to all of you who care about us! See you on Instagram!
Lots of love from Niklas, Cooper and Kira.