It’s been seven weeks, three days, and 23 hours since I got my wee Laddie and my life has completely changed. Not just because I have a fur baby again, but because not only am I a huge advocate for mental illness and injury, now I’ve become a huge advocate for service dogs!
All of this started five months ago when I got the email telling me that the three-year wait was over, and I was finally getting a service dog. A couple of days after I got the email, the executive director at National Service Dogs (NSD) called to make sure I had received everything regarding the training course; and if you’ve been following along, you know the training was for just under a week. She also wanted to know a little about me, so that she could make sure Laddie was getting all the proper training to disrupt some of my PTSD symptoms, like nightmare interruptions, and anxiety attacks.
During the conversation, we talked about the fact that I was an advocate for mental illness and that I wrote a weekly blog. I told her that I wanted to eventually get out there and do presentations about living with PTSD and mental illness, and that I felt that Laddie would enable me to do that. I also mentioned that I was a huge advocate for cannabis use, and that was when she suggested I speak to Adam Saperia; the vice chair of the board. Adam works for Emblem Cannabis; a producer of medicinal marijuana and they have been trying to figure out how to get involved in raising money for NSD & just weren’t sure how to go about it without appearing unprofessional because there’s still so much controversy around cannabis and its medical uses.
In comes me; Davina Lytle, PTSD survivor, professional, and advocate. I offer to help National Service Dogs (NSD) and Emblem Cannabis raise awareness regarding PTSD and medical marijuana. They ask me how I think I’m going to do that and I tell them that I write a weekly blog discussing PTSD and what I’ve been doing to treat it, that I believe I can help them to educate the masses when it comes to PTSD and cannabis, especially when I know it’s becoming the number one treatment for PTSD. I believe very strongly that Cannabis needs to be treated as a medicine, not a street drug and I suggest that I help people to understand that the bond between NSD’s (PTSD) clients and Emblem Cannabis is a responsible one. Both are trying to help PTSD survivors and they believe that if they work together they would be able to raise more awareness, as well as more money in order to provide more service dogs for their clients.
Anyway, what has happened since that conversation has been incredible! NSD taped my first video advocating for service dogs and it went public just over a week ago! If you know me, you must know that this is impressive because after being held up, I never thought I would ever put myself out there. I had been hiding inside for just over twelve years, but ever since I got Laddie everything has changed for me. It’s like I was born for it, that this is all part of my destiny and I believe that for some reason I chose this life; that during this reincarnate my purpose is to learn about things like compassion, and kindness. Whatever the reason, I chose this path and to me, that means that everything that has happened to me during this life was/is to teach me something that I can give back to society. This is what I believe.
What other reason would I have gone through such torment, and now living with this invisible illness and this very visible dog and all the attention around it! As you know, it’s made me question whether I wanted to keep Laddie, or give him back? Giving him back would mean I would probably resume the life of a hermit, but keeping him would mean that I would have to step up to the plate and start giving back by helping to teach the masses how they need to act around a service dog.
My fellow NSD/PTSD teams are struggling each and every time they leave the house with a service dog because they don’t want to be seen. I’m already “out there” educating people about mental illness and injury, and how cannabis helps, so why not add service dogs to the mix?! Service dogs can’t help the fact that people are curious about them, so I’ve decided that I’m not going to let curiosity get in the way of Laddie’s and my relationship. I’m keeping him and I’m going to do whatever I can to educate the masses when it comes to service dogs and how the public needs to treat them, as well as continuing to help other survivors change the way people look at us, because we might be injured, but we are far from being weak.
Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.
Author’s Notes: I’ve been researching medical marijuana (cannabis) for over a decade now and cannabis comes out on top when it comes to treating PTSD. There are a lot of studies done on vets that have shown anti-depressants don’t work when it comes to PTSD. Post-traumatic stress is caused by a brain injury, it is not a chemical imbalance like most other mental illnesses and it responds better to cannabis than it does anti-depressants. Like a lot of vets, my body responded to it immediately, and I got my first full night’s sleep – ever – with my first dose. Even if a PTSD survivor can get anti-depressants to work, it can take months to find a dose that works for them and PTSD survivors don’t have months when they’re symptomatic. I know I didn’t.