For most people, going out into the world everyday and doing the basic "adulting" stuff isn't a big deal. For me however, it's filled with anxiety, fear, overwhelm, and confusion. You see, I suffer from PTSD symptoms from a couple of traumatic events that happened over the course of my life. Part and parcel of this is that I suffer from dissociative episodes. You know those times when you zone out while driving and arrive at your destination with no memory of the drive? That's dissociation in it's mildest form. Most people will experience it at least a couple of times in their lives, and it's totally normal. The kind I deal with is a lot more complicated and scary.
If I'm not able to ground myself (in reality) or there isn't anyone who can help ground me, it can reach the point where I "lose" hours at a time. Which is especially terrifying because anything could have happened during those moments. It's as though I just shut off. Dissociation comes on when I'm overwhelmed, scared, or anxious, which happens mostly when I'm out in public. I also have sensory processing difficulties, which means I become overwhelmed very quickly by sights, sounds, and smells. New and highly stimulating environments (something as simple as the grocery store), trigger my dissociation and the PTSD symptoms, ramping up my anxiety and sometimes even leading to panic attacks. A service dog can help bring me out of these episodes, or even help prevent it from happening in the first place, allowing me to stay safe and present. As you know it isn't possible to have someone with me all the time.
The Golden Retriever is perfect for this role. Some of the other tasks he/she will be trained to perform are: helping me maintain a more controlled environment by providing a boundary between me and strangers (I get triggered when people are too close to me); alert me when he/she detects an increase in my anxiety levels and either provide deep tissue pressure using his/her body weight to help calm me and stop or minimize a panic attack, or help guide me to an exit; help calm me and bring me back to the present/wake me up during or after a nightmare.
For most of my life I've suffered in silence, but through therapy I'm learning to open up and ask for help when I need it. But it's not easy. Like reaching out here for help, it's taken me months to work up the courage. I'm still a bit reluctant, but a friend gave me a gentle push and I promised I'd do it. So here I am.
If you can help in any way, either by donating or sharing, I'll be eternally grateful.