From the Darkness, Comes a Light. (approx.. 5 – 6 min. read)

I already wrote this week’s blog, but it was such a pity party, I decided to deep-six it into the recycle bin – lol!  It was all about the property and all the “fun” we’re having while trying to find contractors and get permits, but it’s just too darn depressing. Plus, I have some incredible news I want to share with you.

Drum roll please…

I’m finally getting my service dog and I couldn’t be more excited! Service dogs have been helpful in assisting PTSD sufferers become survivors.

They can:

“Promote Integration and Activity: Having the responsibility of another being that is a consistent caring companion helps build ties to the future. The dogs are active and force the individual to get out and exercise. The care of the dog also brings routine back into their life.

Suppress Hyper Vigilance: Hyper vigilance creates constant tension and paranoia. Individuals often require more personal space than the average individual. The dogs are trained to create a physical barrier that keeps the public at a comfortable distance.

Provide Reality Affirmation and Redirection: The dogs are trained to recognize the individual’s anxious behaviour and physically redirect them to more positive activities I. e. petting the dog. In addition, for those experiencing nightmares or flashbacks, the dogs can provide vitally important reality affirmation with their persistent nudges and calm disposition. Often the fact that the dog is not reacting allows the individual to feel safe in their environment.”

I started looking for a service dog around seven years ago, but it proved to be quite difficult. There was only one facility that I trusted and I wanted to get my dog from them, but they weren’t providing service dogs for people living with PTSD unless you were a veteran or a first responder. They were hoping to extend the service to civilians because they knew that PTSD isn’t biased and can happen to anyone that suffers a severe trauma, or traumas and they told me to call back in a couple of years.

I knew that having a dog would help me to get outside and learn to live again, so I decided to start looking for my own dog; one that I could train myself. Her name was Xena and she was the reason I went out for the first walk I’d had in two years. Prior to being held up, I used to walk everyday, but I couldn’t find the courage to leave the house after that. Xena helped me to get out again and I wrote about my experience with her here:

Unfortunately, she started going blind prematurely, and she was way too anxious to travel in the car. She would whine and pace like a caged animal, and I just couldn’t do it; she was suffering like I was and it just wasn’t fair to her. So, her companionship came to an end; not in the house - she could smell my anxiety before I even knew it was happening and would nudge or lick me, but she was no longer my travelling buddy.

Once that happened, I became a hermit again; never leaving the house unless I was with someone. It didn’t happen slowly, it was an overnight thing – Xena wouldn’t go in the car, so neither would Davina. I tried, believe me I tried, but it just caused too much stress and I became a danger on the road because I couldn’t control the panic attacks and the fear.

A couple of years went by and a friend of mine suggested that I get a service dog and it reminded me to give National Service Dogs another phone call to see if they had changed their policy regarding service dogs for PTSD. I left a couple of messages explaining who I was and shortly after got a call from them. They told me that they still hadn’t bridged that gap yet and still hadn’t given a service dog to someone like me, but if I wanted to fill out an application, they would put it to the board.

I waited and waited for what seemed like eons but it wasn’t more than a couple of months. I signed into my email account and there it was; an email from NSD. I was nervous to open it, because I knew what it meant to me. I think I deliberated for most of the day and then just threw the what-ifs out the window and opened it. To my surprise, it was an acceptance letter and all I could do was cry happy tears.

It’s been a long wait, but here we are three years later and I just received an email inviting me to my “Team Training.” It seems so surreal. I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve and I can hardly contain my excitement! I will be able to go out without Gary by my side. I will be able to go grocery shopping and clothes shopping. I will be able to go for a walk, as well as go for a drive without having a panic attack and talking myself out of it. Honestly, I’ve been missing so much and I’m so …I can’t find the words, other than - from the darkness, comes a light.

Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.