Challenges of Life with and without My Service Dog
My name is Bev and I suffer from Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder. I have had anxiety and depression most of my life, but 5 years ago it began to affect my day to day life.
I would go about my day pretending everything was fine. When I came home at night, it was at that point my anxiety hit. I imagined every little sound was something coming for me. It was going to be the death of me. Fear kept me up all night. Jumping at every noise and thinking the worst.
This went on every night until the sun came up until I could finally relax enough to go to sleep. This continued every day for almost a year. I was living on 3 to 4 hours of sleep that I could only get after the sun came up. I got to the point where I felt like I was going insane.
I was losing control. I was no longer functioning and knew I needed help. I was suicidal.
My children had been living with their father for quite a few years so moving away meant leaving them. It was the hardest decision I have ever made, but the best. Wasn't it better to have a healthy mother that didn't live nearby than to not have a mother at all? I made the very difficult decision to move across the country where I would have the support of my family. I found a doctor that had the experience in mental health to recognise that I had a serious problem.
Help had come, and my quality of life was finally improving. Unfortunately, a few months into my journey, I had an altercation with a neighbour who was drunk and screaming in the middle of the street at 4 a.m. This altercation undid everything I had worked so hard to achieve. I now had a paralysing fear of people. I couldn't leave my house on my own and when I did, I could only go to visit family and to work.
It was at this point I realized I needed a permanent source of support. Someone I could rely on at every hour of the day. I began to research Service Dogs. I decided with the help of an organisation that I would train my own dog.
My first Service Dog Trainee was a tiny, 8kg, rescued, terrier cross named Molly. Molly may not have been the most obvious choice for an Assistance Dog. She suffered from separation anxiety and displayed fear of new surroundings and people. It was through our anxiety, we formed a strong bond. We worked hard on our training and Molly was picking up new things quite well. She overcame her fear of men and had no problem being in new places and around new people. We made a great team.
With Molly, I was able to regain access to the world again. When I had my weak moments, Molly provided the comfort and encouragement I needed to push on. Life was finally easier.
Written by Bev Barry
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