When your ESA has PTSD.

I think I wrote in one of my post that my new dog, Moo, who is my Emotional Support Animal (ESA) has issues. When first got him, I was living by myself since we where in the process of moving and my parents had already moved into the condo. So it was just the two of us. He loved me – I’d just saved him from shelter living and I liked him. I can’t say I loved him at that time because I was still grieving my old dog’s death, but he was something I could hold on to.

A little background on him so you get why I say he has PTSD. He was born on the IMG_0173streets of the Bahamas, one of thousands of dogs the run wild there. At three – four weeks old someone poisoned food and left it out for the wild dogs (instead of getting their pets fixed this is how people deal with the wild dogs in the islands). Moo’s mom got ahold of some of the poisoned food, and died. At this point he had to fend for himself or die too. For two or three weeks after his mom died he and this two siblings were on the streets alone. People chasing them, either to scare them off or to catch them, before he was caught. Then he went through being shipped to the USA, going through quarantine, going to the vet for things like shots, microchips, and getting fixed. He was paraded out weekly for adoption shows where it was loud, and people were passing him around, at which point it just got too traumatic for him. Then I found him at one of those shows and he sat in my lap so quietly I took him home thinking he was the “ONE” for me.

Then I started picking up on things. First, he followed me EVERYWHERE, I couldn’t move without Moo being right there. Which led to me tripping over him. Which is a problem because I’m already proned to accidents and falling. While we were still in the house he’d crawl into my lap whenever someone was in the house. If it was a man he’d try digging so he could get behind my back to hide. The only one who could touch him was me and my nieces when they’d visit. Any one over three foot tall that wasn’t me, he’d freak out, run away, hid, pee himself or play dead, somethimes all of them at once. Once we moved to the condo, Moo started hiding under my bed. Anytime he heard or saw someone that wasn’t  me, off he’d go, and he wouldn’t come out unless it was just him and I, and the door was closed. I actually had to move things around so he had a place to hide. Otherwise he’d get stuck under there and I couldn’t get him out. 

The condo move was already stressful for me, and now I  was dealing with a freaked out puppy/dog on top of it. I hate to say this and I never would have even thought it before, but I was close to returning him to the shelter. Up until this time I believed that once you take on a dog that dog is your responsibility for life – either theirs or yours, but I started wonder if our parting wouldn’t be better for both of us since he was driving my anxiety levels over-the-top big time. There was just one problem – by the time his PTSD became really noticeable we’d had three months of just him and I time in the house before we sold it, and I was attached plus I was still grieving the loss of one dog and didn’t want to loss anther.

So I had to come up with ways of treating his PTSD so he’d stop triggering mine. Yes, as crazy a this may sound I wanted to keep the dog that was triggering my PTSD. The first step was realizing that he had problems. The next was finding a way to work on his problems that not only helped him but didn’t trigger me. His biggest problem was people, guess what, so is mine.  I found out that he loves being around other dogs though, so where could he be around both dogs and people? Pet stores were out cause I can’t take them – to crowded and closed in, and noises. I then started looking into dog training classes. They were ok for a start but I really only did them because my dog need basic training and he liked them. I on the other hand didn’t like them so much, because well I was stuck inside with people and I felt weird about leaving in the middle of a class when I started getting panicky. The next thing we tried was the off-leash dog park. This worked for both of us. He got to be with, play with dogs, I was outside so I felt less trapped, and I could move or leave whenever I started getting panicky. It took almost six months of two-to-three times a week visits to the park before Moo would even go near another human, another six months before he’d let a woman pet him, we’ve just reached the two year mark and he’s finally going up to people (men and women) and letting them pet him. At home he gotten a lot better too. Most of my extended family he likes and most of my friends. He’s still scared of strangers, especially men, which he growls at before coming to jump on my lap. He still doesn’t bark but I’m ok with that. I still have to watch for signs he’s nervous around someone, usually I let him in my bedroom when that happens, but now he no longer feels the need to hide under the bed.

He has other little things that he still does like he won’t eat from his bowl if you are near him, if you come near him and he’s eat he leaves. So I feed him at night so he can eat while we sleep. If you give him a treat he runs off and hides to eat it. He has to be under the covers in my bed went it rains, thunders or there are fireworks or other loud noise or he cries. It is emotionally painful when he cries. And if I’m gone for longer than four hours he starts looking out the windows and pacing from door to door looking for me. Then when I get home he follows me around again. He has horrible nightmares but so do I so we keep each other company and calm each other down.  

I know I said early I thought of returning Moo because of his issues but I can truly say that I’m thankful I didn’t. I’m also thankful every day that when I went looking for a new dog, God saw fit to give me Moo. Not only do I understand him better than most people would, but he also helps me understand and be more accepting of myself and my issues, by dealing with and accept his.  And I can say now without a doubt that he enriches my life and I love him. There are a thousand ways he makes my life better, but mostly it’s his cheerfulness I love the most.

*** No, my dog is not named Moo. This is just his alias for this page. I’m not so mean as to name a dog – Moo. 🙂

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.

mh3

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…

Excessive Cleaning, Repressed Memories, Habits and Therapist Headaches

Last week it came up in therapy that all of a sudden I was obsessed with cleaning. That all I wanted to do was clean, scrub, polish till everything was bright and shiny and, well clean. Normally I hate cleaning. In fact, I detest it. I’d rather go to the dentist and have my teeth drilled than vacuum, dust, mop, scrub, any of that. I barely can stand doing my laundry or washing my hair. Yet I spent an hour scrubbing the shower and I had to clean the whole house from top to bottom.

Trigger Warning: Repressed abuse memories

So what was causing this obsession – a memory. As my therapist and I trace the feelings back, Kit came out. Suddenly I was choking, shaking, biting my nails (a habit I kicked years ago), and wanting to scrub my skin raw. She was back in the shower having bad things done to her, and all she wanted was to be… Clean. See the connection.

So I’m totally freaking out, I can’t stop biting my nails and I’m feeling very unsettled. And my therapist chooses this time to bring up that maybe I need to see someone who is even more specialized in DID. Just what I need. I already have abandonment issues, issues with trust and a hard time dealing with all that is going on with me. Now my therapist is suggesting I start all over with someone new, not only that but a male therapist. Yeah, right! I really don’t trust men with this, like I want to change therapist and then go to a man on top of that.

To give her credit, my therapist did notice how much her suggestion, messed me up even more than I already was, and backtracked, but by that time the damage was done. Now I’m scared about trusting her, does she want to treat me? Or is she not sure how? Or does she want to get rid of me? Am I too much for her to handle? Now what do I do?

Ghost of Yesteryears

TRIGGER WARNING 

I don’t know if this will trigger anyone or not but I putting a warning on it in case. I have been living with this image every imagewhere – when I close my eyes, when I look in the mirror, it feels as if it is burned on to my very eyes, so that everywhere I look I see it. I’ve tried to depict it in the picture, but even it can’t seem to do it justice.  What I see is a blonde angelic looking small child covered in blood. I know it’s Kit from the look of her except that she seems to be dripping blood all over the place – everywhere.

After talking about this in therapy, my therapist had me do some visualization exercises where I replace the bleeding child with how I wanted her to look – protect, strong, covered in armor. I worked really hard at replacing the one image with the other. To help, at least when I look in the mirror I’ve gone back to brilliant red instead of strawberry blonde for my hair color.image

Now instead of a bleeding child, I hear none stop crying, whimpering, screeching. It’s gotten so bad that I’m medicating myself almost to a coma just for a few hours sleep. I actually miss the bleeding child, even though she was disturbing, she was quiet. When I brought it up again in therapy today, my therapist says I needed to set rules and make my alters obey. First of all the word obey is a trigger for most of my alters. It’s a sure way to get them to NOT do what I want them to do. Second I have been trying to set boundaries/rules with them but that doesn’t always work – some days it does some days it doesn’t. I know that this is stress induced, but right now I can’t do much to change that.  I just wish for a better way of coping with this.

Blanket Forts

blanket fort

Today I needed this – thanks Boggle The Owl. It may not have been writen especially for me but it felt like it was.  I’m totally freaking out because I’m having surgery on Friday, and I have no one to freak out to. I am having a hysterectomy something I have been begging my doctors for, for the last 15 years. I have Endometriosis so bad, that it has become debilitating. I have tried everything and for the last year I have basically been drugging myself unconscious with muscle relaxers and pain meds. The doctor who finally said yes was my last hope, and I went in fully expecting to be told no again, because I’m still in my thirties. When he said yes I cried, something I never do. I also hardly ever see male doctors, especially for my female issues. This shows how desperate I had become to have broken down and saw a male doctor. So now I’m freaking out about the surgery and all the things that can go bad/wrong. And I keep trying to say the sayings my new therapist gave me to keep me calm – things like:

I’ll cross that bridge when I get there, whatever it is.Clothes-Pin-Fort
I will be present for what is happening today, tomorrow will take care of its self.
I can’t control what hasn’t happened yet.
It’s ok to let others take control when I can’t.
I can’t control everything no matter how hard I try.
They are not working and I’m still freaking.

My mother has already made this all about her and how she has to cut her vacation short to take care of me, plus she has a bunch of questions that she didn’t get to ask the doctor and why can I put it off for at least another week. The whole point of doing it now was so that I wouldn’t have to continue being in pain any longer then I have to. Part of me doesn’t want my mother home because, let’s face it, she has a pretty crappy track record caring for me in the past, but at the same time I really can’t see my father doing it. He’s been going around for the last week and half pretending that nothing is going on, so basically operation normal for him. Then there is the recovery time and being defendant on anyone, something I hate. I can’t do anything much for at least two weeks and it can take up to six before I can drive. Being able to get in my car and go for a drive when things are hard is my relief. How the hell am I going to make it through 24-7 for the next six weeks of my parents. The only thing that could make it worse was if my sister was here.

So I saw this post on blanket forts and I remembered how I use to love them as a kid. I could hide out in there for ages and be in a whole different world so now I’m trying to figure out how to make one around my bed for when I get home. The sayings didn’t work but the thought of a blanket fort has mellowed me out.

Finding The Underlying Cause

If this dieting thing is teaching me anything, it is that I need to find the underlying cause to why I eat in the first place. Unlike most other things ( drugs, alcohol, etc.) that you can become addicted to, food is not something you can stop doing. You have to eat to survive, but what you eat is a whole other matter. When you eat to comfort yourself without looking at the why you need comfort, you never fix the real issue, and it keeps coming round again.

I was rereading one of my books on loving yourself and I realized one of my biggest problems is me. When you are so loathing of one’s self, you don’t even need others to make you feel bad and in need of comfort. When the very voices in your head are telling you that you are fat, ugly, no good, stupid, bad, worthless, lazy, etc. it doesn’t even matter if those around you are saying that you are not those things.

So I am working on two things in a hope of one losing weight and two feeling better about myself.
First I have to change my thinking (this is no easy matter), I need to start listening to the positive things others say about me, and start saying and believing in them. Time for some affirmations. I’ve gotten away from that. Second I need to be more conscious of what I’m eating, why I’m eating it, and if maybe I should be eating something else or nothing instead.