new here, my anxiety and my dog

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nighthawkess
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 6/1/2010 8:47 PM (GMT -7)   
idea  Hi folks,
 
Nice to meet you all. I have had anxiety and agoraphobia for 25 yrs. I actually became housebound for a couple of years, and slowly, very slowly, have grown. I've eventually been able to leave my house, (which was in a small town) and endured the anxiety of having to move, (but it was for the better, if we could only know in advance eh?) and then I moved to a home a short distance out of town. (This move was difficult as well, but it has also allowed me to grow. We have to push our boundaries of feeling uncomfortable, for growth, and therefore; less anxiety) It was difficult for me because of my agoraphobia. I was afraid to drive or travel anywhere, alone or not, other than within my town. I hated that I could only travel within my town limits. As you can see, my world was very small. I couldn't go on vacations, take my kids to special places ie; camping, swimming, or even to a zoo. I didn't know how I could get my "get out of jail free card", as I was the only one with a ticket. I have two dogs....one a chihuahua, and the other, a german shepher/lab X. I took them with me everywhere. When I pushed my boundaries, I would feel anxious, but looked often toward my dog(s) for comfort. I didn't feel so "alone" when they were with me. My chihuahua would sense my anxiety and was quick to lick my tears in acknowledgement of my stress. I learned to pay attention to my dogs, when I felt anxious, and see how they were "feeling" when my anxiety attack was at its highest. I observed that they were quiet, yet alert. But there was no "real" danger...like the danger I perceived. I learned how dogs live in the "here and the now", not in the future or the past. As with anxiety attacks, for the most part, its all, "what if" thinking; ie; what if I have a panic attack, what if someone sees me freaking out, (all anticipatory anxiety) I was very good as this kind of thinking which only hindered my growth. All it did was make me more anxious, even before I ventured out. As I turned to my dogs for "moral support", I was able to travel more and more, with this "here and now" thinking. I would look at my dogs, and see them looking around their environment, when I was in my vehicle. Knowing they think in the "here and now", I also would try and focus my thinking the same. It was difficult, but proved to be a useful tool in dealing with the anxiety monster! My world became bigger and bigger. I am now able to travel alone, to quite a few places. My world is still small, but its much bigger than it used to be. I am more independant, (as I couldn't travel before at all, unless accompanied by my husband) I still have setbacks. And some places I just can't go to. I also know that accepting that I'm predisposed to anxiety (as I have a twin, and he also struggled with anxiety for a number of years) has helped me to not dwell so much on the anxiety itself, but to have tools to cope with it.

I rely on my dog very much and decided to further investigate possibilities of having my dog with me all the time. I learned that I can have a psychiatric service dog. I researched the options and regulations of having a service dog. I can train my dog myself. She doesn't need to be certified. I can teach her to alert me when I'm going to have a panic attack, and distract me by nudging me, and she can put her upper body across my lap, applying what is called "deep pressure" to my stomach, which aids in better breathing. She is now my official service dog! I have since acquired a german shepherd puppy. (Because my shepherd/X is getting older) My puppy is going to be my service dog as well. She will of course need training which isn't as difficult as you might think. I have name my pup, Freedom. She will one day accompany me everywhere. In stores, restaurants and more. My world is still getting bigger. But it takes work to deal with anxiety, but with a little help from my canine friend(s), I know I have a brighter future.
 
I hope to help others here, and others help me, as we venture on this journey of life together.
 
Deb aka, Nighthawkess

janetlee
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 1986
   Posted 6/2/2010 12:08 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi, Deb!
I am glad you have come here. Your story is very inspiring! I can relate to your feelings in many ways. I am not afraid to leave my house, but won't leave my town. I have two birds. A cockatiel named Peeper and a parakeet named Chirpy. Peep is around 15 or so years old and is the "Barney Fife" of birds! LOL! He's scared of everything, but acts like a big tough rooster...until he get's frightened by some strange sound or a loose feather drifting by!! I've had him for most of his life. Chirpy is not a tamed bird. He only loves his own image in his mirrors. He's quite the narcissist! When I get near his cage, you'd think that I was Lizzie Borden, Jack the Ripper, and Attila the Hun, all wrapped up in one! He flies up to the top perch and watches me carefully as I change his paper and refresh his food and goodies...I'm such a BEASTLY OGRE! He likes my mom better as she's never tried to hold him. I have to take him out to wash his cage, so I am the bad guy! My birds make me smile (you couldn't tell, huh?!) hahahahaha!!!!
Everyone here has a story. We all fight battles. Some are harder than others. I am glad that you are winning yours! Keep up the good work!
jl
 


stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 6/2/2010 6:33 AM (GMT -7)   
Hello Deb and Welcome to HealingWell,

What an inspiring story and thank you so very much for sharing. I am a firm believer that pets offer psychological and physical comfort to people with Anxiety and Depression.

One of the coolest bumper stickers I have ever seen went something like..: "I hope someday to become the person my dog thinks I am."
I have a wonderful "best friend", a 3 year old, 90 lb Doberman. He has a International Championship Title and belongs to my daughter. When our other Dobermans passed away I was heart broken and my wonderful daughter gave me her lovable "Memphis". He thinks he is a lap dog and if I sit on the floor with him he will sit on my lap. He always senses when I am having a rough time and lets me cry all over his neck while I hug him. He never moves when I am upset but stays with me. He sleeps next to my bed every night so I am never far from him.

I call him my "therapy" dog and I am always amazed at how much he helps me without saying a word.

Again welcome,

Kitt

janetlee
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 1986
   Posted 6/2/2010 10:40 AM (GMT -7)   
How any sane person can not love animals is beyond me!Thank God for them! :)
jl
 


Carenpolar
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 672
   Posted 6/2/2010 3:00 PM (GMT -7)   
welcome to the board. what a wonderful story you have....
 
hugs, Caren

former1
New Member


Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 6/2/2010 4:53 PM (GMT -7)   

Welcome to the Healing well community. Your story is wonderful because you took the courage to move forward. I am also a dog lover and animal lover and my belief is animals were put on earth to tame us wild creatures in patience and love.

Welcome,

former1

 


Celey
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 1284
   Posted 6/3/2010 5:13 PM (GMT -7)   
That is a very awesome story, Nighthawkess... I remember seeing something on Animal Planet once about this lady that took her dogs with her everywhere... and was allowed to bring her dog into places where dogs aren't allowed because they helped her so much with her anxiety problems...

And there has been numerous studies that show how good pets are for us on a psychological level... I've always felt safer (even with a little runt of a dog... :) ) with a dog around... and they always make me feel so much better...

I miss having a dog... :(... I'm not allowed to have one in my dorm... I think I would feel a lot better emotionally if I had one again... Dogs always seem to know how you feel... and seem to try and do just about everything they can to make you feel better... Not to mention, they're always up to their goofy little antics... They're so lovable. :)

I might get lucky, though.... For the spring semester, I'll be going to a university instead of a community college.... and most likely, I will have to live off-campus due to the fact that freshman students are given priority for on-campus housing (and I'll be a transfer student)... and that they're not even sure they'll have enough space for the freshmen...

Given that I have a distinct lack of my own transport that might be something of a dilemma, but there is a lot of housing that is very close-by (some within walking distance)... and where I'm going has a good public transportation system...

I've taken a look at some of the options already... and there are some apartment buildings that allow pets (it's usually limited to small animals... sometimes small dogs)... So, I'm hoping to get an apartment like that... and then save up my money so I can get me a dog again... I'd be so happy... :)
I think I am being picked on by life, sometimes. But's that okay. Life and I are good buddies... I know life doesn't mean no harm. It just is the way it is. I can accept that.


Howlyncat
Elite Member


Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 24909
   Posted 6/3/2010 5:54 PM (GMT -7)   
Thank you so much for this wonderful story
my daughter n b/f bought a lab pup when i got out of hospital
this dog has become my ears as i hv lost total hearing in last yr
she is always at my side my protector as it were
i sleep on the couch n she sleeps with me at other end with head on feet lol
because i cannot hear door n things she is very quick to let me know if someone is there..
i have grown to love darrla so much its unbelievable...
the love she shows me is real n unconditional
i like Kitt often hold her n cry into her neck
she looks at me like she knows n im kinda sure she does
follows me everywhere

there is nothing she would not do for me n i love her with all my heart
i am getting her classed as well as Hearing DOG
this way she will be classified n registered as one
dogs..pets are the best next to our kids for unconditional love n companionship
ty again for posting about this
and a warm welcome to HEALING WELL FAMILY
LYN

nighthawkess
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 6/4/2010 1:54 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi everyone,
 Thank you so much for your replies and warm welcome. I'm so glad I found this "place" ;)
The internet can be such a wonderful place! I wish it would of come out sooner because when I first started
having panic attacks, there wasn't very much information out there about it. It would of been so much
nicer to find people that had similar problems, so that we could share and talk about our experiences.
Panic problems can be such a "lonely" road. But, nevertheless, we're here now. I'll be snooping around, lol,
and investigating the site here. Thanks for the welcome guys. I'm so happy to be here!
 
Deb, aka nighthawkess

Howlyncat
Elite Member


Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 24909
   Posted 6/4/2010 3:27 AM (GMT -7)   
I am sure you will find the family here very supportive caring and helpful
glad you found us
stay with us n get support n input
lyn

bwell
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 16
   Posted 6/11/2010 12:54 PM (GMT -7)   
Very great and inspiring story. I also have 2 dogs, a cat and 2 fish. Dogs: Border CollieXGerman Shepard, and Siberian Husky. My one dog is also very aware of my anxiety. I don't often get anxious at home but when we're out or if I have to drive (driving = anxiety for me) she does give me comfort. I never really realized how much though until I read your story, so thank you. I will pay more attention to their reactions to me and also keep in mind the "here and now" thinking.

nighthawkess
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 6/11/2010 1:34 PM (GMT -7)   
 Thank you for your reply "bewell" and you're very welcome; I'm glad that my story has helped you. Welcome to the group. I've been here only a short time as well. Hopefully, with a little knowledge from people who share the same path/struggles we can grow and learn from one another. Its nice that we're "not alone", or not as much as we think we are. The internet is such a wonderful tool to come in contact with others, as computers weren't 'big" when my anxiety started....welcome to the group.
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