Paws 4 Mommy

 

 

You need to develop the courage to say you need help, as mental health illness is not something you can treat on your own. My daughter has been my strength to actively seek treatment and deal with the symptoms of my PTSD. She was what pushed me to ask for help. I want to be her mom more than anything and for those affected by PTSD, you know that it’s very hard to do much of anything when you’re fighting your way back from the darkest places that are scary to face, desperately trying to seek healing in the hope and possibility of what lies ahead. 

It’s really hard to describe what it’s like to have severe complex- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to someone. In the media, there is a lot of talk about veterans and first responder personnel who experience and suffer from PTSD, so at least people are beginning a dialogue about it. But there needs to be more talk around the victims of crime or violence who, as a result, suffer from the debilitating injury, PTSD. For me, PTSD is as a result of childhood and adult emotional, physical and sexual abuse. 

In my chosen profession I worked with children. I was trying to cope with accommodations before I left my career that I loved, but it wasn’t working. I was having flashbacks, I was sleep deprived and I was suffering from such severe anxiety that any interaction at work caused me significant and debilitating stress. I began to isolate myself at work and in my personal life. While I haven’t worked in almost three years in my field, I have been working to stay alive everyday. 

The only way to really describe my illness to someone who doesn’t have PTSD is to say this: PTSD has stolen my life from me. There are experiences I never got to be a part of because the isolation I needed in order to feel safe made me lose friends and family members who didn’t understand what I was going through. At a young age I learned how to use negative coping strategies to numb my feelings, isolate myself from everyone, try and hide my fear that I was feeling every minute of every day in the hopes that no one would notice my increased anxiety and panic attacks. I was having trouble feeling safe on my own as an adult. Every day I used ineffective coping strategies just to get to the end of the day. I had never known a life other than this, so as scary as it was, it was still my life; my normal. It was what I knew. However, when I became pregnant I could no longer use the negative coping tools I had relied on for so long. My anxiety became uncontrollable, my emotions were swinging from happiness to sadness to all consuming anger and fear. My husband and I chalked this up to pregnancy hormones. We were wrong. When I delivered my daughter, my symptoms of PTSD, anxiety and OCD increased exponentially. However, having my daughter gave me the strength I needed to begin to heal. 

Please understand that while it’s me who is being granted this wonderful gift of a service dog to help me survive and to live daily life, it’s not only me, but also my family who benefits. My husband will get some freedom back. He has stepped up in ways that continue to surprise me almost every day. I have extreme difficulty leaving my home and because of this, struggle with agoraphobia. Since about the time my daughter was two, I slowly cut back and eventually cut out all errands and activities outside of my home. This means that my husband has taken on the enormous responsibility of taking me to doctor’s appointments and individually completing all errands - from groceries to banking to purchasing my daughter’s clothes. 

Instead of a profile photo to include with my story, I decided to use a drawing that my daughter did of me. When she was done this picture, she said, “This is you, my mommy.” Even in its simplicity, you can see me through her eyes. That is how I like to see myself. Becoming a wait list recipient, knowing that I will one day be placed with a service dog, gives me the HOPE I need in order to get through my days, good and bad, and to believe that one day I will no longer be weighed down by the shackles and chains, the effects of PTSD have created. 

I want to heal not only for myself, but also my husband so he can get his wife back and for my daughter, so that I can live each moment with her in the present and experience everything that will happen in her life. Her dream is to go to Fantasyland at Disney World one day. I have cried myself to sleep many nights thinking that my daughter deserves a better mom who doesn’t have PTSD and can take her everywhere she wants to go. 

I know that a service dog will help me to be around people again, by going everywhere with me so I can begin to take part in community activities and go back to work eventually. It will help me during episodes where I dissociate. It will help reduce stress, will sense my anxiety and help me prevent panic attacks and flashbacks before they happen. It will reduce or eliminate my tendency to self-harm and my hypervigilance when being in public. It will help me with my OCD and lessen how much I check things in order to feel safe. And, most importantly, a service dog will allow me to live life with my daughter doing things like dropping her off at school or taking her shopping or for a walk in the park. 

My daughter has a very basic understanding of my illness. When I told her that mommy was going to get a dog one day that will help mommy feel better she got the biggest smile on her face and said, “oh my gosh, Mommy, that’s so great. That means you’ll be able to come out places with me.” She put her arms around me and gave me the biggest bear hug. Seeing her smile because she will be getting her mom back is my biggest motivator to heal. 

I want to genuinely thank you for taking the time to come to this page, read my story and hopefully donate to K4Paws so that I can begin to live life again and continue on my journey of healing. I used to think PTSD made me weak. But I know now that it has actually made me stronger. Asking for help can be very hard, but I’ve learned that choosing to live is even harder. 

Much love and appreciation,

Paws 4 Mommy

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