Did you know people living with mental illness and/or psychological disabilities can get a service dog?
Mental health service dogs (also called Emotional Support Companions or Skilled Companion Dogs) are trained to perform tasks that help ease debilitating symptoms of some psychological impairments, including but not limited to, Post- traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Acute Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Generalized Anxiety Disorders, Mood Disorders, Asperger Syndrome, and Tourette Syndrome. I wasn’t familiar with mental health service dogs until about a year and a half ago. After reading about the dogs, the service and how they help, I am so happy that the opportunity is available for people who could benefit from it.
Some of the support a mental health service dog can provide include :
- Assist handler within their home.
- Assist handler in places of public accommodation (e.g. classes, grocery stores, medical appointments, shopping malls, public transportation, and etc.).
- Remind their handler to take medication.- Retrieve medication or small beverage to take medication.
- Wake handler for school or work.
- Assist in coping with emotional overload by bringing handler into the “here and now.”
- Provide a buffer or a shield for the handler in crowded areas by creating a physical boundary.
- Extinguish flashbacks by bringing handler into the here and now.
- Orient handler during panic/anxiety attack.
- Stand behind handler to increase feelings of safety, reduce hyper-vigilance, and decrease the likelihood of the handler being startled by another person coming up behind them.- Call 911, emergency support or suicide hotlines.
- Search dwelling before entering.
In addition to the many tasks a service dog can be trained to do for his/her handler, many of the benefits to owning a service dog extend beyond having the canines assistance with certain tasks. Having a canine companion brings benefits inherent in the human-animal relationship and can often include:
Relief from feelings of isolation, an increased sense of well-being, daily structure and healthy habits, an increased sense of security, self-efficacy, self-esteem, an increased sense of purpose, mood improvement, and increased optimism. Other benefits include:
- A secure relationship.
- Dependable and predictable love, affection and non-judgmental companionship.
- Motivation to exercise.
- Encouragement for social interactions.
- Reduction in debilitating symptoms.
- Greater access to the world with around the clock support.
A new friend of mine has had a mental health service dog for about eight months now. My friend J has lived with severe Panic Disorder most of his adult life. It’s prevented him from dating, working, and interacting socially. After many years, he found himself staying inside more and more. He found a service dog program, went through the application and screening period, and met Mica several months later. Now, when J’s body begins physically changing (sweating, heart palpatations, hyperventilation for example) due to the onset of a panic attack, his service dog Mica can sense it’s coming and will push his nose into J’s palm. It’s amazing really, and is incredibly moving to see the relationship between them.Getting matched with a service dog can be a long process. Service dog training and certification differs state to state within the U.S., and country to country outside of the U.S. The length of command training for a service dog depends on the handlers needs. To learn more about mental health service dogs, you can go to www.mentalhealthdogs.org, a U.S. mental health service dog training organization.
Hello hello!! A biiiiiig thank you and a big welcome to my new followers!!!
Looking forward to getting to know you!!
I Lost My 30’s
I Lost My 30’s
I have met and become friends with men and women who also live with depression and other illnesses. They are bright and talented and compassionate and warm…I love them…and love having them in my life.
I realize I am much stronger than I could have ever imagined.
I have come to understand that I am my own best health advocate.The realization that being bold while telling my story is important… along with the realization that it is okay to keep some things/experiences private and all to myself. The knowledge that I am most contented when I am in service to others. Not everyone will understand my story…and that is okay.
Living with both depression and chronic ideations has reinforced my notion that we are not meant to navigate this world on our own.
Asking for help is paramount to our good health and well-being. I have a greater capacity and desire to really learn from other people and their experiences.
The ability to truly listen.
What lies beneath a person’s exterior can be shocking and surprising, sad or heart breaking, inspiring and illuminating. Whatever it is…it is part of their story, and it is important and matters. So I listen.
The knowledge that whatever happens during the rest of my life…I know, that during this time in my life, I’ve tried really, really hard. And I’ll continue to try.
Even in my worst depressive period, my beloved friends can still make me smile and laugh.The notion that my opinion of myself is not always the most important…or accurate.
The realization that each moment of pain has graced me with moments of strength. In order to really feel strength…you have to survive the pain.
That, in this moment, I am doing the best I can with the tools I have…and that is the best I can expect from myself, my family, friends, even strangers…
Good evening everyone : )
I’m somewhat happy to say I’m about 50 minutes into my 40th year of life. Per usual, I have mentally flown thru the years of my life…my friendships, my relationships, both romantic and not, my projects, my career, my successes and failures, my losses…and of course, my mind is swimming.
This birthday…I didn’t think I’d make it, not just because of my overdose last March…but since I was about 33. It seemed impossible.
The photo that is here…the same one I use for my profile pic, is me when I was three or four. I don’t exactly know…but I remember my laugh from back then. Is that even possible? Possibly even the feeling of laughing from back then. I’ve always felt like the me in that photo was the ‘real’ me…if that makes sense. Unburdened.
So, here I am. Nearly an hour into this unexpected next year of my life. I wish I could be bursting with joy. But I’m not. I’m actually a bit sad. And reflecting how much work it’s taken me to get here.
When I look around my apartment, I can see years of my life on my bookshelves…collections of poets and authors from my teen years…and then from university, when I discovered authoresses who spoke the language I couldn’t yet find for myself…and the time I began studying psychology and relationships and spirituality.
I see the art I’ve collected through the years, both my own and from my beloved friends. I see the photos of my nieces and nephews who have all been born in this last decade…Cards and marbles and wings and feathers and shells and collages that I have been given as gifts. Crystals that I’ve collected. A beautiful piece of deer hide given to me by a very special medicine mama. Tiny bells, that when they ring when a breeze passes thru, remind me of certain men I’ve been with - or been in love with or losses that I’ve had.
I could not have made it through this past year without the love and loyalty of my beloved friends. They are few and far between, but they are special and unique in their own ways, and they pulled me forward when I wanted to retreat. They loved me when I was pretty unlovable.
In thinking of them, I think of my beloved friend Joan, who lost her fight with mental illness, I then watched my beloved, beautiful friend grieve her mom’s passing. I have met incredibly determined men and women and feel fortunate they are still in my life and that I can call them friends. I look at all of this stuff, all of these things…and realize I made it to 40. Pretty amazing, if I may say so myself.
Thank you all for reading www.ilostmy30s.tumblr.com.
Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch & listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.