When I was first diagnosed with anxiety, PTSD, and OCD; I asked my counselor how I could have PTSD when I had never been in the military. There
There are days where I struggle with my body, both physically and mentally. I feel like I should be helping more, but cannot due to my body that day. My anxiety makes me argue with myself and go rounds in my head, fighting the mental battle in what I should be trying to accomplish. On bad days, I second guess everything and am afraid of being judged. I give excuses for my choices and slip them into the conversations to defend my choices because I think they are judging me. No one told me that anxiety and PTSD would control every decision I make. I was never told how much it could impact my life and that I would have almost no friends because I was too anxious to go hang out.
After having my daughters, I was diagnosed with PPD and PPA. Prior to this I had only heard about PPD because of the episode from Scrubs and never truly knew how often it was diagnosed. I just thought that it sometimes happens, I was never informed that if you already have anxiety or depression you are more prone to developing PPD or PPA or that it could develop any time up to two years postpartum.
My anxiety symptoms
I had such high anxiety that I did not take my daughters anywhere and refuse to go out into public. I have fears that I am being judged as a “bad” parent, when in all honesty I am doing the best that I can physically and mentally do. I have that guilt as a parent that I am not doing enough and then I hear small comments that my daughters don’t get interactions with others their age. It then takes me a few weeks before I try to set up a playdate, and then cancel it again a couple days before to the day of. Sometimes I have to cancel due to my body not functioning and other times I cancel because my anxiety gets in the way. It is a vicious cycle that won’t ever stop.
I had gotten a service dog to help mitigate my disabilities, mostly physical, but some mental. My service dog helps with alerting to anxiety/panic attacks and she helps lessen my triggers for my PTSD. I have only recently become comfortable, to an extent, to talk about these things. I never wanted to admit to having PTSD or anxiety and struggled letting my husband know about them when we got engaged. I felt broken and damaged when I realized that they don’t go away, you can do counseling, therapy, etc and they will always be there.
Unfortunately, having my service dog with me can cause more anxiety in certain situations or when I’m having a bad day mentally. Some people can be outright rude when confronting me about my service dog because I don’t seem blind (I am not blind) or I don’t look like I have served in the military (I have not). These are the stigmas in society that can cause misinformation being spread and therefore making it harder for me to get out of the house.
My PTSD Symptoms
Some of the symptoms I have to deal with because of my PTSD are: nightmares (night-terrors), guilt, poor judgement (happens a lot to me, especially through social media), flashbacks, insomnia, anxiety (with having anxiety from separate issues this is a double whammy), avoidance (I do this a lot because I play “what if” scenarios in my head), startle response (my service dog is trained to help lessen these), negative self-image, stress, and isolation. These are some of the symptoms of PTSD, there are many more, but these are the ones that I experience almost daily.
My service dog is trained to help with my PTSD and anxiety by alerting or doing a few other coping mechanisms. She will alert when she notices my
I Am Thankful For The Support I Recieve
With my service dog, I am able to cope better with my symptoms and function out in society better. I did not initially get a service dog to help with these things, these tasks came about soon after I was diagnosed with PTSD, which was around 3 years after I had gotten my first service dog. There are other tasks that I have added slowly as my body physically gets worse over time and as I am learning that I need more help.
Along with my service dog that helps me cope and function on my own, I am grateful for a great support system. My parents, parent-in-laws, husband, and a couple friends; help me be able to enjoy life and don’t guilt me (that often) when I bail out or am struggling mentally. I truly believe that if I didn’t have the support system that I do have, I would not be able to function as well as I do. Sometimes all I need is a good listening partner so that I can process how I am feeling and why I don’t want to leave the house.
It also helps when I have someone be able to go out on errands with me so that I do not have to be alone. Other times, they gently push me to do things that I wouldn’t normally have the guts to do, like write this article. My anxiety got in the way and it took me three weeks to write this in fear of being judged. Lots got deleted, put back in, deleted, and then put back in again. My support system helped me to feel comfortable to write this and have it published in this blog.
Katie McCabe is a wife and mother of two beautiful girls. She has rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and lupus, along with a few other disabilities. She works full time at a school district in the city where she lives and will be going back to school to get her Masters. She has a service dog that helps her with being independent and able to function day to day. Follow Katie on Instagram