I'm going to come right out of the gate and tell you that this isn't easy. I'm not the kind of person who goes out looking for attention and flaunts their issues to get it.
I've spent my entire adult life hiding my depression and anxiety from everyone but my closest friends and family, and even then I did my best to be strong and play my problems off. I had a "everything's okay" mentality and for the longest time I was living in denial that my problems were as severe as they actually are.
However, that changed for me at the grocery store of all places (about 6 months ago). My immediate family members have all grown used to the fact that I cannot walk into a store by myself anymore. They have grown used to the fact that they need to hold my hand in public because if there are people near me that I don't know I start panicking and my throat closes up and I can't breathe. It’s common for me to still hold my 4-year old daughter through the store so that I am holding someone, as that seems to help with the anxiety. Anyways, this particular trip to the store started out normal enough - me walking with Destiny (my oldest daughter) holding my hand into the pop aisle. As we were picking out the cases of Dr. Pepper (because let’s face it I have a Dr. Pepper addiction) a few people walked into the aisle on both sides of me. I didn't even recognize that I was having a problem but Destiny stopped, put her hands on my face and made me look at her. In a strong little voice she calmly says "It's okay mom, I need you to breathe with me.....just breathe."
In that moment I thought I wanted to die. Here was this 11-year-old child that now feels responsible to help ME handle my anxiety. In that moment I realized that I was not handling my anxiety or PTSD and that I needed more help than what I was getting.
Over the years we have tried many many different kinds of assistance techniques to help with my anxiety. We have tried medications, breathing exercises, multiple types of therapy, etc. We have tried having me wear heels in the store and to concentrate on the clicks that my heels make. We have tried having someone on the phone with me in the store so that I didn't feel alone or threatened. We have tried the hand holding, applying pressure...etc.
But the reality is that I'm not living a full life. My life is basically lived out of my house because I'm so crippled by this I don't feel comfortable or safe to leave my house. In those times that I am outside of my house, I must have someone else around me that I can completely focus on, in order to not focus on my surroundings.
After 13 years of this, I have finally come to the realization that I need more help than what I have admitted. For over 4 years now it has been suggested to me to get a service dog to help me with my anxiety and to help me in public - to provide pressure, to provide a barrier, or to bark signal to remove me from a situation, and to provide a solid focal point to me when I need it the most.
I have spent the last 6 months working with an agency here in Missouri and have now been approved for a service dog. Now I need help...your help. I need your help to regain a normal life.
The cost of the dog and training is almost $10,000 and while it is for a medical need, insurance does not cover it. After contributing the funds that we have, there is still a gap in what we need to proceed with getting this service dog. The process includes needing 50% down, which will start the selection of the right dog for me (that matches temperment, training, etc) and also start the final training needed. Then will start the group training with me and the dog, so that we learn to work as a team, and finally the remainder of the funds are due at the time the dog is ready to be handed over permanently to me.
I want to be able to go shopping by myself, or to take my children places without worrying about having an anxiety attack that causes my children to care for me and not the other way around. I want my kids to be kids again and not caretakers. I realize that I will never be completely normal. But I firmly believe that this is the next step in my journey to recovery and that means the world to me and my family.
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