Service Animals.

We all know about service dogs: For the blinds, deaf, disable/handicaps, epileptics, autistics, etc.  The ones that are less known are the cats and dogs that give emotional support; Animals helping those afflicted with PTSD, severe depression, severe anxiety disorder, and so on. Cats, dogs, animals are known to calm, to lower blood pressure, bring some happiness in one’s life. We can only think of zootherapy and how sick kids and the elderly suddenly smiles and interacts when that furry therapist enters the room!

There’s also a programs for veterans using horses and have shown great success. Emotional support dogs can prevent crisis, bring comfort and courage to those afflicted with a mental illness… But here’s the problem… THEY ARE NOT RECOGNIZED. Meaning, a person like me, that have severe depression and anxiety disorder, could use one… BUT would not be allowed to bring my dog everywhere I go since they are not recognized as an actual service dog, even though I had crisis at work, and public places such as malls and restaurants. And I think it’s not only in Canada. But they do exist and they do help! But as they are not recognized, not only they are not allowed in public places, but you could get in trouble with landlords that hate animals.

I think that organizations like MIRA and the Canadian Service Dog Foundation, should push to make them service animals like the one’s for the blinds. And know what? They should also do like Courageous Companions, and use shelter dogs….

 

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My zootherapy: A passion finally fulfilled.

This week I had my first day at fulfilling a passion I couldn’t enjoy since my parents thought it was too expensive. So instead, I did figure ice skating for 8 years. At the end, the cost was the same!

I had my first horse riding lesson. I have ride before of course! But my last ride was 10 years ago, and it kinda disappeared with my obligations and bad relationships. A friend of mine revived my passion by trying a job as  groom… sadly the conditions didn’t fit with my condition.

As my treatment for my depression is going well.. my motivation came back. So much life plans. I need to do some without thinking about…..

So I decided to get lessons, get my levels (Cavaliers) and eventually be myself an instructor or guide. Part or full time. And even if I don’t work, continue with the passion. If I am ever able to have my own horse, I would just dream about the Canadian Horse. What a marvelous horse! Perfect temperament for me.

So my first lesson this last Wednesday. My horse was named Sunny. A lil brushing, saddle and bridle on… and off we go! After so long, sitting on this powerful, intelligent beast was overwhelming. My instructor could see my stiff shoulders. It was pretty much learning all over again. Losing bad habits, getting new ones. Trust the horse again and myself. At the end, she could tell I was more relaxed. The time I have passed there, with Sunny was a stress free moment. I forgot my life for the moment it lasted. A dog is a very good zootherapy animal, but horses are special. The look in their eyes, their calmness… I am jobless right now but hope to be able to keep getting my lessons. It’s my therapy. Wish I could even do it more often.

I just can’t wait for my next lesson….

If you are on Facebook and like Horses but mostly the CH, I have a new page:

The Canadian Horse

I AM NOT CRAZY: Depression, anxiety and other mental disorders.

In August 2014, a good, brilliant man that spent his life making us laugh committed suicide. We will all remember Robin Williams. But it took his death to bring the depression and mental health disorders back in the spotlight. All of a sudden, people were trying to understand and help those affected. But it all stopped as fast. We don’t hear about it anymore and people that were judging back then, are still judging today.

I am not ashamed to say that I have an anxiety disorder, and it got mixed with depression for the last year. A mixture and accumulation of events have got me, have broken the strong “I don’t need no one” woman that I was. Bursting in tears in the most unexpected moments, panic attacks, no motivation. I ended twice at the hospital for crisis. At my lowest, I had darker thoughts that only 2 persons knows. The hospital have put me through a line of experts. The last one, a psychiatrist, gave me the good news that my brain is a very healthy one. I know what I need to be well again and get back on track with life. I just have to figure out how, and keep it that way. The hardest part will be to get back what my last 2 exes took: trust again and keep away the fear of being played, cheated and not loved at my worth. Like my psychiatrist said, there’s one security that I need and afraid to lose, and it’s from my loved one. The type of connection I can get with him, whoever he is, is an important side to me, it gave me that safe feeling. I can do well in life with zero friends, but not with that one and only person that I need. So in certain situations, my brain, without warnings is triggered with fear, panic. What if I lose everything again?

So this being said, being afflicted with this, I have noticed how some people can react to us. And here, I would like to thank JS and Joe, that took care of me, was worried for me and brought me to the hospital on my second major crisis. Most people actually think we are crazy. We are not. Believe it or not, but those conditions are mostly seen in overly intelligent people that were strong for too long and never wanted to show weaknesses, and have help. The condition is the breaking point. But yes, some are predisposed to the condition.

Some people, like my father, don’t believe in any diseases. It’s all in our head, we are creating it, get over it. Some will get mad at us, ignore us, insult us, judge us, lose patience. Whether they believe in the disease or not. Some think that by “pushing” us, and giving us the hard talk, it will help. No. It makes it worst. It also touches our self-esteem, which sometimes, like me, have lost already. So all of your inside feels like it’s been twisted by some invisible hands and the tears keeps falling. What we need is someone that will sit with us, hug us, and say “it will be alright”. Someone that will take the time to hear us, that tries to understand, and tries to make it better. It makes the pain slowly disappear..

What triggers a “crisis”? It can be anything. For me it’s fear that the past will rewrite itself again. That I will be played, taken for granted, cheated on and lose the one that I love again. But also, and I have lived it at my worst, sometimes you just don’t know why. You suddenly burst in tears and feel an inside pain:

So we get this need to be reassured. Even on the way to recovery, once in awhile, some things can trigger a “crisis”: Pain, fear, takes over. The road to recovery is a long rocky road. It’s even longer by yourself, when you have no one that can understand what is going on or know how to react. Do you completely recover? I know that my anxiety disorder will never leave, but I know that in normal situations, I am able to control it without medication. The depression side, I am not so sure. I think I will be able to beat it. But the wounds that triggered it? I think they will stay. I was deeply burned, and even if I am slowly healing, it will leave scars. I think that eventually though, the depression side might come back if I get back in the hardships I went through… If my mind and soul reacted this way after all this time, I don’t know what will prevent it to do it again.

Those mental illness can lead to darker, sad endings. I could still refer to Robin Williams, but also to a close friend of mine from when I was a teen. I wrote me letters when he was placed in a youth center, he was sad and troubled, but he was happy I was there for him. But it wasn’t enough to prevent him from hanging himself in his parent’s bathroom. The pain and the darkness must have been so overwhelming to him. I will never judge his decision, like we should never judge anyone’s decision to do it. When you never went through it, it’s hard to understand how their soul feels. It will hurt that person’s surrounding, family and friends, but don’t take it personal, it’s their decision, their exit to end the unbearable suffering. Miss you Alex!

If you have or suspect a friend or a family member to be depressed, not mentally doing well, don’t ignore them, lose patience or get mad at them. Just be there, just take them in your arms and listen to them. If you are not sure what to do, or that it’s worst than you think, you can search the internet or health centers to get help.

If you are the one afflicted, don’t give up. Search for something that makes your heart smile. For me, it was my dog (Zootherapy), he was a typical therapy dog breed, a Bernese Mountain Dog… he was my best friend, my guardian…. but “a situation” obliged me to bring him back to the breeder. So I try to go walk dogs at shelters. Don’t keep it for yourself, I know you think you can do it by yourself, but I have learned that we can’t…

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