A Year In Fast Forward – Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

As I stated in my last post one of the conditions to my moving was my being about to keep my dog, Moo. When you are moving into a condo association with a “NO Pet” rule this can be hard on someone who’s dog is not just a pet.  Fortunately the Federal Government passed a law about discriminating against someone with disabilities when it comes to housing, it’s called the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988. This allows for people with disabilities to request a reasonable accommodation, such as a waiver of a “no pets policy,” for any assistance animal, including an emotional support animal.

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For more on what an emotional support animal is click here.

I want you to know that just because you want to keep your dog doesn’t make them an emotional support animal, and even if you get your doctor to write the letter stating you need an ESA; you may still have a fight ahead of you. I know that I did. The first letter I submitted to the condo association was denied by their lawyer because my doctor and I didn’t get specific enough. I had a real problem with telling what I viewed as my personal business to a board of strangers. I felt that it wasn’t really any of their business. I still feel that way. But as my doctor pointed out, they and their lawyer needed to make sure that what I was asking for was something that I actually needed and not something I just wanted. After much thought I finally told my doctor to tell them exactly why I needed an ESA. My doctor and I ended up composing the letter together so that not only was I comfortable with what was disclosed but also the reasons I needed an ESA were VERY clear.

To see my letter click here

Needless to say that within two days of receiving this letter, I got a letter back stating I was able to move in with Moo. Since then we have had a few people, say something about him living there, but I keep him on his leash at all times when he is outside, I clean up after him and he doesn’t bark, so there isn’t much they can complain about. Beside the fact that, the board has said that if anyone has any problems/questions to send them to them and they will take care of it. This is great for me as I don’t do well with confrontation.  

Now if I could just get my Father to read my doctor’s letter so he will stop saying things that are either stupid or wrong. But since I can’t get him to read anything that might be a help to me, I’m not holding my breath. After all he likes to believe that there is nothing wrong with me, so that he doesn’t have to feel guilty. If he’s asked my dog is there because I have epilepsy. Boy, I wish my letter said something about that. But I look at it this way, it makes my father look ignorant because he doesn’t know why his daughter needs an ESA.

One more thing: DON’T pay to have your ESA registered. There is no law that recognizes an emotional support animal registry. Don’t waste your money! The law only requires a doctor’s letter.

A Year In Fast Forward – Moving

I know it’s been almost a year since I’ve posted anything on my blog, and all I can say is it’s been one hellish year. Losing my dog, L.V., was like having my breath knocked out of me repeatedly. In my last blog I said of my new dog “He’ll never be L.V., but he can be Moo and that is enough.” In some ways I was right and in other ways I was sooo wrong.

Little did I know when I adopted Moo, I was getting a dog that has PTSD worse than me. Unfortunately, I didn’t really realize Moo had ISSUE
S due to the other major life change that was thrown at me at about the same time.

My parents, who I live with, decided to sell our house (the house I grow up in) and move into the condo my mother inherited for my grandparents. I had so MOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAANY problems with this; I don’t even know where to start.

First, I’d have to leave my home, the one place where I actually felt safe. The room that was like my cave, the place I vowed no one could get me out of without dynamite. When I was going through a bad time, home was the ONLY place I could be. A place I could lock myself in and be safe.

Second and maybe more importantly, I’d have to move into the condo where my grandparents, the people who abused me spent the last years of their lives. I will acknowledge that I was never abuse in the condo, so I don’t have any memories of that there, but when they moved from the house where I was abused; most of their things came with them. So even though they are both dead, going into the condo was like going into a mine-field full of triggers. At first I couldn’t even think about it. The furniture in the room that would be my “new” room was the furniture in the room where my grandfather had abused me. It had to be removed before I’d even think about going in there. This caused a huge problem because this furniture is considered a family heirloom, but no one in the family wanted/needed a full set of bedroom furniture. It is over hundred years old and all my parents’ friends who saw it were pushing me to keep it because it was such a “nice set”, better then the stuff I had. I was almost to the point where I told these ignorant, well-meaning friends that there was no way I was every going to sleep on the bedroom set I have memories of being tied to while I was raped repeatedly by my grandfather; that I’d rather sleep outside in the dirt, first! I did let something of the above slip when my mother got pushy about it, after which the furniture finally disappeared, and I haven’t heard of it since.

Third, the condo association also doesn’t allow pets, I’d just lost L.V. which almost put me in the hospital, now I was being told that I would have to give up MOO, too.  It was like my parents were trying to kill me. Fortunately, with the help of my therapist and a law called the Fair Housing Act, I was able to keep, Moo. But I’ll post more about that later.

 Fourth and I can only say this now with the hindsight of actually living there for a while; the condo association is a 55 and older community. I can live there with my parents because they are over 55 but everyone there is older than dirt. The pool closes at dark for goodness sake. Everything and everyone is asleep by 8 or 9 pm. Being that I’m a night person this is hard on me. Also living around so many old people is triggering to me because some of them look like my grandparents.  I’ll be driving and bam!, there is someone who looks just like them. Maybe it’s the hair, maybe it’s the way they walk, maybe it’s the clothes they are wearing, I can’t be sure what it is, but it is something. And there I am in flash-back, panic, hyperventilating, city; and my parent’s wonder why I don’t want to leave the condo. I don’t even want to open my blinds, but that could be because we are next to the clubhouse and the pool and all the condos sit almost on top of each other. Opening the blinds means that people can see in. I don’t like people watching me. It freaks me out.

This didn’t even take into account the actual stress that is normal when you move.

My parents moved into the condo, in June or July of last year, after visiting my sister, and her suggesting that they try it first. Needless to say they liked it and never moved back into our house.  Moo and I spent over 3 maybe 4 months in our house alone. I think that this is why his PTSD issues didn’t come up. It was just him and I and he loved me, and there was really no one else around for him to interact with and thus be scared of.

During this time I had to at least consider moving, even though it was that last thing I wanted to do. My parents were gone, the house was on the market and I was about to be homeless, if I couldn’t get my mind around living in the condo. This is when Rose took over and decided what logically “we” could and couldn’t live with. What it would take for all of me to even consider moving. She knew that “we” had to at least be a little flexible; after all “we” were living with the parents for next to nothing. She also understood why they felt like it was time to move from our big house into a condo. She understood things like money, the need to make things easier on themselves because of their age and not being about to do things that they were once able to do i.e. maintaining a big yard, cleaning a big house, keeping up with repairs, etc. She knew that emotions were all well and good but that they were going to put us in a even worse situation then moving, so she made us come up with the list of WHAT “WE” HAD TO HAVE TO MOVE – for it to go on the list all or at least the majority of me had to agree that it was a MUST HAVE.

The biggest thing, which was that only thing all of us could agree on, was: we had to keep Moo. There would be no moving without him.

Next came getting rid of ALL and I mean ALL my grandparents things. Then the whole condo had to be given what can only be called a complete makeover – new paint, new flooring, new furniture or at least our furniture, not anything belonging to the grandparents.

“We” wanted complete say on our bedroom and bathroom. The color the walls were painted, the furniture that went in there, the fixtures and other things in the bathroom. It had to be so different that – one not a trace of the way it looked when my grandparents where alive was remaining and two they would hate what “we” had done with it, because it wasn’t beige, brown or orange.

“We” now live in a room that is painted purple on 3 sides and teal on the fourth. The teal side is hand painted (my hands) to look like a rose, butterfly garden with purple, orange, lime green, yellow and pink. It’s what we wake up looking at. It’s great to open one’s eyes to that after having a flash back nightmare; it’s even calming and peaceful. It’s also a great visualization tool, putting yourself in that garden.

There were a lot of mental black and blue marks before I got to the place where we were okay with the move, but for the most part I think “we” are all there now.

More on the last year to come…

Losing SO Much More Then My Dog

I got my dog, L.V. as a puppy. He was only four lbs when I brought him home. He was everything I’d ever wish for in a dog.cb974930bf9df15e0cc90ba18f392175 L.V. went from being a 4 lbs puff-ball to a 75 lbs. guardian. He was my friend, my companion, my protector, the one thing that was always there for me no matter what. He loved me and he would have died for me. There were many a time when he came between me and danger – or at least what he thought of as danger. 

While everyone around me, had lives, families, jobs, children, whatever I had him. He calmed me when I was stress. He kept me for killing myself on more than on occasion because I was responsible for him. But most of all he brought me great joy and happiness, and a much need feeling of being safe.

So when he started to limp around New Year’s, I was SCARED!!! I knew that he was 12 years old and that is old for a Rottweiler. But the thought of losing this important part of my life was killing me. It got worse when the doctor came back with the fact that L.V.had bone cancer in his back leg, and there was nothing I could do but keep him comfortable and wait. The doctor told me that L.V. would let me know when it was time. I thought that this was crazy but because I wasn’t ready to let go yet I went with it. In the end, he did tell me when it was time, but for six weeks I went through hell. Was he comfortable? Was he in pain? Was he eating? Was he sleeping? Was I being selfish to hold on to him, instead of letting go? I will forever be grateful for those 6 weeks. I was with him almost the entire time. It helped me come to terms with losing him, and I got a few more memories to hold on to. When he went, he went peacefully to sleep in the vet’s office. 

Now I’m sure there are those of you that are saying he’s just a dog, what’s the big deal. But he wasn’t just a dog to me, he was everything I didn’t have. I know that, that is putting a lot on an animal but he was my emotional support. The thing that kept me semi-sane in all my madness.

Coming home was the hardest part, I had to leave a part of me lying on the floor of the vet’s office and walk away, knowing that I would never see him again. Then I got home to a house that was soooo quiet, and the thing that I usually used to comfort myself was no longer there.

I started thinking I could heard him, I keep seeing him, I became hyper-vigilant because he was no longer there to protect me. I wasn’t sleeping, I’d spend hours  – I can’t say crying because it was so much more than that – keening, whaling . Till I’d tire myself out but when I did sleep I wake up screaming because I couldn’t find him. My family wasn’t at all helpful. My father didn’t know what to do with the nighttime crying so he did nothing. He didn’t check on me, he didn’t even wake my mom to have her deal with it. All he could say was NO MORE DOGS. My therapist was worried and suggest that another dog might ease some of the pain. Or at least give me something else to love. My mom didn’t like the idea but begrudgingly took me to some shelters to look at dogs. None of which she liked.

Having spent a week and a half in utter misery, with both my parent basically saying no more dogs at least not now. I took matters into my own hands and went looking on my own. I came home with a puppy, Moo. He’s going to be less than half  L.V. size which is good because I can no longer handle a big dog. But Moo is colored the same as  L.V. which makes me feel like I haven’t lost him completely. While he is not  L.V., he is something I can love, and that loves me. And I don’t feel so alone.

I still grieve for L.V. nothing can take his place but Moo has help a lot. He’ll never be  L.V., but he can be Moo and that is enough.

No my dogs are not named  L.V. and Moo. These are just their alias for this page. I’m not so mean as to name a dog – Moo.🙂

 

Blog for Mental Health – 2015

As you know if you’ve read my blog, my wish is to not only help myself but to help others that are dealing with mental health issues, especially those that are effected with the aftereffects of child abuse.  It pleases me to be a part of Blog For Mental Health – 2015

“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2015 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”

A short biography of my mental health and what it means to me:

I’ve been diagnosed with DDNOS (Dissociative Disorder not Otherwise Specified), MMD (Major Depressive Disorder), PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Agoraphobia with Anxiety Disorder. Not only are my disorders an assortment of abbreviations that most people have no idea what they stand for, when you do actually spell it out for them the still have no idea what they are. You don’t know how many times I’ve heard “PTSD is what soldiers get, right? How can you have it? You’ve never been a soldier.” And there is little to no information on DDNOS. My goal with my blog is to change this – to change people’s preconceived ideas and to enlighten them; by doing that I hope to help not only myself but others, because right now without this blog, I feel helpless.

I have spent a lot of time working on a series of posts called ” The Legacy Of Child Abuse”. So many people don’t realize how much damage child abuse causes.  I’ve also been working on accepting/acknowledging my alters. This means that I am allowing them to rewrite their pages from their view point so that I can better understand them and who and what they are. It is a long and painful process. 

My therapist also say I have problem with Happiness. That could be because I have no idea what makes me happy. I’m going to be putting a lot of time into that for a while with a blog I’ve called “The Happiness Project” so I won’t be posting as much on here as before. I am going to try to do better then last year though and post something at least once a month.

The Antidote – Part 2 – Meditation

This is my second post on the book “The Antidote – Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking”. This time on its chapter on Meditation/Buddhism. I’m not Buddist but some of the stuff it teaches is interesting/useful.

If you are like me, for years you have been hearing people (therapist, parents, friends, doctors, etc.) telling you that meditation is the way to relieve stress and to become calmer, so you try it. And you try it and you end meditationup feeling like you are failing. That somehow you are just not doing it right. For me, with the multiples, meditation isn’t just about quieting one mind or part of it, it’s like a whole neighborhood. You have multiple houses all blasting their radios – heavy metal, polka, something Spanish, a talk show, etc. You have to spend time going around to each of these house and turn off the music. And when you think you’ve got them all off, they switch back on again, and you have to turn them off again. On and on it goes till you either give up or you have all of them blasting at once. Either way, it’s not a relaxing experience.

So you can image my thoughts when I got to this chapter. I was ready to stop reading. Then I learned something I HAVE BEEN MEDITATING WRONG. I thought I had to completely clear my mind to properly meditate. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when I found out that, that wasn’t true. Meditation is not about emptying your mind, reaching a state of bliss or achieving a trance-like state of calm. It is not a way of seeking happiness, but a way to stop running away from things that we are either not aware of or don’t want to face.

Here’s what you do: You take the time to sit comfortably still, close your eyes and notice your breath as it flows in and out. One breath in, one breath out. Things will come up, sensations, emotions, etc. We need not be distracted by them but instead we need to notice them. We need not judge them but instead watch our thoughts and emotions, our desires and aversions, as they come and go. We need to resist the urge to run, fix or cling to them. Whatever comes up, good or bad all you need to do is stay present and you observe them, acknowledge them, then let them go. Always returning to your breathing.

The chapter goes on about practicing non-attachment, but i’ll leave some of the book for you to read

The Antidote – Part 1 – Stoicism

As I said in my last post I am re-reading The Antidote. It starts with the modern, popular approach to happiness. The simple technique of picturing the positive, seeing thing going right, and the by doing What's The Worst That Could Happen1this you can magically make what you want to happen, happen. The problem with this is that when things don’t turn out you end up feeling even worse than when you started.

Stoicism on the other hand has you picture all the things that could possible go wrong. It prepares you for the worst case, ever if the worst case doesn’t happen. In fact, most of the time it doesn’t. But it also doesn’t have you floating along on this rosy cloud of positive thinking where everything is going to be ok, only to have that cloud disappear and you find yourself plummeting to earth with nothing to stop you, because you were not prepared.

I’ll use an example of what I am going though right now. I fell a couple of months back and really damaged my left leg, foot, and ankle. I have been to an Orthopedic Doctor, a Podiatrist, and a Neurologist.  I’ve had X-Rays, Blood Work, MRI, EMG (electromyogram), and Nerve conduction studies.

Now I could have gone the “Positive Thinking” Route – which means that before each of these doctor’s visits or tests I’d be saying to myself “Everything is going to be just fine.” and “The tests are going to show nothing is wrong” or “The doctor is going to say I’m going to be better in no time”. As just standing on my left leg feels like someone running it over with a truck this was a little hard to do.

So I choose the Stoicism Route. After the fall first came the X-Rays and Orthopedic Doctor, so worst case broken bones, cast and maybe surgery which also meant hospital. :(  You can image my happiness went I was told no broken bones, no case, no surgery, no hospital. Next came the Podiatrist and the MRI – worse case – torn tendons, surgery, hospital. This time I didn’t get as much happiness but I was prepare and relieved when it turned out that I had 5 pulled tendons, 1 partial torn tendon, and a bone bruise. Still no surgery or hospital but I have to stay off my leg as much as possible, keep it elevated, wear a brace and use a cane. I did get some happiness out of getting a Handicap Parking Permit so I can park in Handicap spots. Next came the Neurologist, EMG, Nerve conduction studies and next week a MRI of my spine. Since the fall I have lost feeling in my toes and skin, no Diabetes. But the EMG required them to stick me with needles – which brought up thoughts of blood and passing out – I didn’t. I went in to the EMG and the Nerve study prepare for nerve damage. While it wasn’t as bad as I was prepared for it to be – I have Neuropathy and damage to my sensory nerves in my feet and hands (I burnt my fingers with hot water and didn’t even feel it, it was scary). That is why I’m getting a Spinal MRI next week. Scary worse case there is more nerve damage in my spine, surgery and hospital, there is no fix and it keeps getting worse, or they don’t find anything but I’m still in constant pain. What ever it is I’m prepared, and I’m not coming out of all of this devastated because it was trying to think positively – basically every was going to be ok – and it isn’t. What's The Worst That Could Happen

This only one example of how if have been using Stoicism, there are more. It is amazing how much more you can cope with, deal with, do when you ask yourself “what is the worst that can happen?” and realize that you know what if that does happen you’re ok with it.

Suicide Prevention Day

I don’t usually reblog something written by someone else, because my blog is for me and what I am going thorough. But this post, its words are so touching and they mirror my thoughts so much that it I had to post this on my blog. Thank you for putting into words thoughts I think almost every day.

Another Hope Entirely

To be perfectly honest, I dread and resent this day.  I know that’s a very unpopular opinion, but I’m not sorry.  I just can’t embrace it and write a tearjerker post about my close calls with suicide and how glad I am that I didn’t succeed.

I’m not glad I didn’t succeed.  I’m not actively suicidal right now, but my life is difficult and painful every day.  If any one of my suicide attempts had succeeded, I wouldn’t have to drag myself through that every day.  I wouldn’t have to worry about whether I can find a doctor who will give me medication to manage my chronic pain.  I wouldn’t have to worry about becoming homeless because my disability check isn’t enough for anyone to survive on.  I wouldn’t have to worry about how to get therapy when no one thinks I need help.  I wouldn’t have to worry about…

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