From our trainer in Austin, who is working with Meghan, who suffers from PTSD, severe anxiety/depression, and fibromyalgia. Meghan had eloquently described her condition, and I thought I would share it (with her permission) because I think a lot of us can relate to it. Meghan wrote:
“Most nights when I sleep, I have severe nightmares and wake up every few hours. The anxiety from the PTSD, nightmares, flashbacks causes severe panic attacks. The anxiety leads to depression, which makes leaving the house difficult. At times, the fibromyalgia leaves me exhausted, affecting my ability to stand and my general ability to function or concentrate. I’ll collapse or have to sit down wherever I’m at. My speech can even become slurred. I also am in constant pain. I am disabled and have a part time job but only work 16 hours (4 hours days) due to a doctor recommendation. This at times leaves me with little or no energy. My boyfriend has had to assist me in writing this because of my Fibromyalgia impeding my concentration.
My psychiatrist recommended that a Service Dog might help me with panic attacks, PTSD, and even the depression. Recently, my physician suggested a Service Dog for both my PTSD (panic attacks) and fibromyalgia.
A Service Dog would be a constant companion I could rely on – helping me realize when the PTSD is causing me to hallucinate and have flashbacks. My companion would help me focus my thoughts in these moments. He would also help me to keep from becoming overwhelmed by my surroundings. A companion will be able to give me more confidence when I step out because he would be able to notify me if I am having a panic attack or starting to disassociate with my surroundings, forcing me to focus on him instead of my fear. He would also allow me to exercise and function better outside of the house. Part of my fear is if I become tired or have a fibro spell, I will have no help. Most days I will not leave the house without my boyfriend. A Service Dog could also help for when the fibromyalgia leaves me with no energy and I start to collapse, by giving me someone to lean on physically and emotionally. I have also heard that they can help comfort you when the PTSD causes nightmares and can help with the nightmares. This would be wonderful as I sleep very little, especially at one time. I wake up some nights and am even afraid to go to the bathroom or I lay awake afraid to go to sleep. Having someone there to remind me what is and isn’t real, that will stand by my side will be an immense relief. He would help me function better when I go out and perform daily activities.”
I was just so impressed with this detailed, well-thought out description of what someone with these particular issues deals with on a day-to-day basis, that I knew others could relate. The fact that both Meghan’s psychiatrist AND physician prescribed a Service Dog gives me hope that the medical community is starting to realize the value of these dogs in our lives.
Our trainer writes:
“I just finished a session with Meghan and Precious. We did our first public training outing at Petsmart!
I let Precious go in the store and explore first before we began our training, just to desensitize him and make sure we got his full engagement after he had smelled the store. We worked on loose-leash walking before we started on heeling. I had Meghan focus on rewarding Precious for not pulling and for checking back in with Meghan to make sure she was ok. We also worked on down/stays and sit/stays. Precious is strong in sit/stays. His down/stays need more work, but overall, he did great! His heeling was wonderful after after we got into the rhythm! He needs to work a bit on his self-control when out in public. Precious loves other dogs and people, so this is something we will be constantly working on so that his focus remains on Meghan and away from his surroundings.”
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING YOUR STORY, MEGHAN – YOU ARE DOING A WONDERFUL JOB WITH PRECIOUS AND OUR TRAINER!