A Service Dog for Nicholas
When I was 14, I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder after my first manic episode. It was ugly, and it affected everyone I was close to. I was hospitalized, and when the mania ended, I was overcome by a horrible depression, ruminating on the pain I had caused others and myself.
These days, at 33 years old, I have spent much of my adult life seeking treatment. As a result, I understand more about the unpredictable eruptions of mania and depression that characterize my life. But despite years of different medication and therapy, the ability to live what would be called a reasonable existence has remained elusive. For example, I have always wanted to work and love the automotive industry. Since my early twenties, I have worked as a car salesman and service writer in many dealerships, beginning each job with my fingers crossed that this will be my professional home. Initial success, however, almost always triggers a manic episode followed by the crash of severe anxiety and depression and the devastating realization that I am not functioning adequately enough to continue working. In the last decade, I’ve lost eight jobs (all of which lasted short of a year) in every case because my anxiety, extreme depression, and stress level became paralyzing, and my ability to focus on completing tasks disintegrated. My most recent episode left me so crippled by anxiety and sadness that suicide seemed the best option. Luckily for me, my attempt was unsuccessful.
My wife has been my biggest supporter. She is my rock.
She helps me get through everything as best she can. She ensures I take my meds, grounds me when I start moving too fast and can’t slow down, and helps calm me down when my anxiety becomes out of control. She structures my day-to-day life, but she has a full-time job, and it is not feasible for her to spend 24/7 tending to someone who has a hard time being alone and being in crowds. So, as you can imagine, we have been struggling, and it was suggested that a service dog might be the answer.
Why a service dog? The major issues that I deal with day to day are all things that a service dog can be trained to do, such as respond to increased heart rate signaling anxiety, help me take my medicine, watch my back when I am feeling frightened in public, and be a comfort when I am anxious and alone or having panic attacks. During my manic episodes, I need a calming presence, while during my depressive episodes, I need to feel protected. After long consideration, my care team and family all believe that having a service dog will give me more independence.
A service dog giving me the ability to be independent will be life-saving, not only to me but also to my wife and family. I can live a purposeful, more independent, and meaningful life with a service dog.
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