Who loves dogs?
Well… I DEFINITELY DO!
“You are so lucky to have this dog.” “I wish I could bring my dog everywhere like you do”. Those sentences are what I always hear from people. Even if it might be true (because most of the time it’s nice to have my dog around) there’s a reason behind all of this that is not as nice as it sounds. I think it’s really important for people to understand why I’ve got a service dog because a lot a people think that I don’t need a service dog… Not every disability is visible.
This is why today I’m gonna talk about why I’ve decided to have a service dog.
I’ve always dreamt of having a dog but it was a big no for my parents. Now that I’m on my own I was thinking about getting one for a long time. But in an apartment, it’s a little bit harder… So I’ve decided to wait until it is the right time, because let’s say it A PET IS FOR LIFE.
A year ago, I adopted my first little puppy on a shelter. It came from nowhere but at the same time not at all. I’ve talked about it so many times.
First thing first, did you know that you can have a service dog for mental health? Well, I didn’t… I’ve learned it a year ago in fact. For the past 7 years I’ve been suffering without any solution that worked for me… It’s a damn long time when you could have had the solution for your problem, but sadly I think it wasn’t a possible/known thing yet.
As you already know, I’ve been suffering from GAD and PTSD for several years now. Not everybody understands exactly what it does really mean, and I get it because it’s just started to be more common to talk about it; before it was a taboo subject. I have a lot of anxiety and panic attacks and now agoraphobia due to those problems… Though it first started with a panic attack.
Let’s tell you how I found out about it… It could be an entire post about that but I’m gonna try to make it short. At first, I didn’t know what it was all about. I was dizzy but didn’t understand why. I had to go to the hospital at least 7 times before knowing what it was. The first time, the doctor told me I had hypoglycemia … without any testing… I’ve tried to change my diet but didn’t have the right information neither knowing why I had this illness. Fast, I’ve realized that my symptom didn’t stop at all. In fact, it was worst. One night, I had to go to emergency because I couldn’t breathe and my heart was beating really fast. I thought I had a CVA or heart attack. I’ve been to the hospital to be told I had nothing and sent back home without any testing. I was panicking. I was convinced that I had something really dangerous, but doctors just couldn’t see it. I was dying but nobody cared. It goes on like that. Once the doctor did some test to see if it could be something but, in the end, told me that I was crazy… THE THING THAT YOU SHOULD NOT TELL A PERSON WITH A PANIC ATTACK. It made it worst, of course. I was sure I was going crazy for real. Like I lost my mind and I was imagining all of this. After more visits to the hospital, I have met ONE female doctor that took me seriously. She did test me to make sure that my heart was fine and other big stuff like that. After a lot of tests, she took the time to sit with me and talk about mental illness. More specifically panic attack. She prescribed some drugs to help me deal with it for at least a month. It was a big deal for me since I finally knew what was wrong with me. I WASN’T CRAZY THANK YOU! Now, I had to learn how to deal with this illness. I was lucky because at first I had all psychologist treatment paid with school so it was easier to get better. I was feeling better after a couple of weeks, but I simply learned how to deal with it partly. But then, I had to go to university and had no more free treatment. Yes, I had insurance but, it was way harder to have the full support I needed because I didn’t have the money for my health. So of course, everything went back to the beginning and even worst.
You might still wonder why I needed a service dog. I’ll tell you about it but first remember that it can be different for everybody.
At first, it was just hard to wake up and to go to bed plus, of course, the basic panic attack. Wasn’t really nice but still I was able to deal with it. Except I wasn’t really going to school because I had to choose where my energy would go. Work was my focus because I needed money to live. What you need to understand is that less energy I have, more panic attack I have. You also need to understand that money is also an anxiety fact … so it’s hard to decide where’s your energy’s going. At some point, it was so hard to balance between work, school and social life that I could barely do anything else than the thing that I had to do: work and school (when I had the energy). Until the end of the year where I had a breakdown. A total breakdown, I totally lost it. Sincerely, I can’t remember what really happens because I wasn’t there. I had so many panic attacks and anxiety that I wasn’t in my body anymore. It was like I was seeing stuff but couldn’t do anything. When you are having panic attack and anxiety, it’s like you’re no more in your body. Imagine being like that all the time. It’s awful! It’s when my psychologist thought it would be a good idea for me to take pills. In fact, it could have been a great idea except it was maybe better for panic attacks and anxiety but I was depressed. Finally, it was almost worst. So, I’ve stopped it because it wasn’t what I wanted. Anxiety seems like a better option. Well … not really but it’s been a better one for me.
After that moment, I had to take time off school because it was too much for me. I’d decided to move to another city to try to start over. I thought that I was hoping that with moving someplace else all of my problems wouldn’t come back. But I was wrong.
I’m gonna skip a lot of details because it could be a story of 100 pages. I could tell you all the reasons of why it became that bad but it’s always the same pattern. No energy, more panic attack and anxiety, and avoiding any circumstances that could be a trigger.
Instead, I’ll tell you what leads me to have a service dog.
I was 25 years old and not doing anything anymore because I was too scared of having another panic attack in a public area. What a life… This is why psychologist and I decided that having a service dog could help me to have a normal life again and having a support all year long. I said earlier with meetings every week it’s easier to be better. But when you don’t have the money to do it, you’re alone… All by yourself living awful feelings. When I was almost done with my psychologist meeting, I was always crying like a baby because I knew it was the time where I would be all by myself not knowing what to do with all of those problems. But this year it was a different. One day, I met this girl at the dog park that told me about a service dog. I couldn’t believe what she was telling me. I was so amazed that I looked on YouTube what was a service dog for mental health. The first thing that made me cry was the pressotherapy video. When I was having panic attack heavy things on me would help me feel better but you don’t always have someone around to something to help you. And when you do… I wouldn’t ask them to lay on me to calm me… SO IMAGINE HAVING A DOG DOING IT. After that, I looked at some many videos. I wanted one so badly now.
My psychologist was on board and it seems like a really good option for me. There was only one bad thing… I already had a puppy. Where I am from there are a lot of rules to have a service dog. One of them it’s that it has to be from an organization. But they don’t accept your dog. I was so sad because I was not ready to have another dog… I’ve learned about the service dog too late. I was devastated. Until, I’ve talked to this girl. She had her own organization but it was really far from my place. But it was my only shot. She would accept my dog if he passes the test.
AND GUESS WHAT? HE DID!!!!!
My story has a good ending. Ok, not true this is just the beginning of my journey. 😉
Now thanks to my dog, I feel better. A lot better.
It’s like having a new life.