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Zach and Puppy

2019 Litter Team

I have a good life, but I want to share my story in order to help others out there who may be struggling with anxiety and depression, and also for myself to accept this disease.
Medically, I have chronic stomach problems, weight loss, fatigue, memory problems, and panic attacks. My official diagnoses include Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder.
I have been hospitalized inpatient and outpatient numerous times for depression and suicidal ideation.  I have tried so many different medications that I can no longer keep track of how many I tried. I have been in therapy programs; including group and individual therapies, Cognitive Behavioral (CBT) and Dialectal behavioral Therapies (DBT) programs. They help but I continue to struggle with anxiety and depression. When the medications and therapies don’t work I wind up feeling hopeless, and my outlook on life is that things will never get better. I constantly have ruminating thoughts that there is something wrong with the way I am. Many time in this state people assume I am angry at them and I come across as unapproachable especially with my peers. This has negatively affected me socially since I was very young.
 I truly believe people are talking about me whenever I am not part of the conversation. I constantly worry what people are thinking of me. My heart pound, I get the chills, the shakes, and at times have even passed out from my anxiety.  Academically, I panic about my class work and I won’t sleep for days. There have been times where I would go to class and walk out due to anxiety. There are days where the depression is so bad that all I can do is stay in bed, calling out of work or being absent from my classes. When I am in this state, I can’t function, I can’t get out of bed, and I am too anxious to remember to take my medication. It is hard for people who don’t suffer from this to understand that it takes every ounce of energy to step into a class, cafeteria, concert, party or any other social situation. When I am there my stress level is off the charts. Living in this constant state of panic leads to my depression.
When I was younger I stopped playing sports because they caused me constant anxiety and the fun of engaging in the sport was no longer there. Most of my friends continued with sports and moved on, and my social circle got smaller and smaller.
My first hospitalization was at Franciscan Hospital when I was 11. With a lot of support I got though middle school. I ended up going into an alternative high school program at Foxborough High school, and basically became a social outcast. My sophomore year was really bad, resulting in an inpatient hospitalization due to some major family struggles, as well my anxiety and depression. I ended up being hospitalized at the Mclean South East Adolescent Program. Again with a lot of support I graduated and was looking forward to attending college. I looked at this as a new beginning for me, but unfortunately my disease was still there. I tried twice to live on campus, once at Westfield State University and next at Rhode Island College, but failed. I attended community college in the interim. As you can imagine, I was left devastated each time. I was so depressed that I did a day program at Butler Hospital in Providence. I wanted the college experience my friends spoke of but it was not a possibility for me.
This summer I had worked hard and got an internship to work at a summer camp geared to children who had experienced trauma, or who had other mental health disabilities.  Unfortunately, shortly before the camp was to begin I was hospitalized at McLean’s adult program because of my depression. When that ended I did a day program at Leonard Morse Hospital. I had to withdraw from working at the camp that I was so eager to work at.
I have since withdrawn from Rhode Island College and I am taking a step back to reevaluate things at Massasoit Community College while doing an Intensive out Patient Program at Butler Hospital. I hope to return to a four year school, either Rhode Island College or Bridgewater State University after completing my Associates degree.
I know I am taking a risk by putting my story out there with the negative stigma that mental health problems have. But I want to help end the negative perception of people have about mental health issues.  Currently I am commuting to Massasoit Community college and hope to become a social worker, and counselor working with children and teenagers who struggle with mental health. I work part time at Gillette Stadium and I volunteer at a Children’s hospital and at Golden Opportunities for Independence (GOFI) where I train other recipient’s service dogs.

My doctor, therapist, the GOFI Board of Directors and my family agree that a psychiatric service dog could help me immensely and improve my quality of life. I have tried medications and therapies which only seem to work for a period of time and then I spiral down and go into a dark place with no hope. I believe that in conjunction with medicine and therapy, a service dog will give me that missing piece to keep me grounded. The golden retrievers at GOFI are specifically trained to help people with mental health issues, or other medical conditions. Each dog goes through a very involved 2 year training period. If you would like to learn more about service dogs please go to https://gofidog.org/about-us or reach out to me personally.
Unfortunately the cost of a psychiatric service dog is $5,000.00 to 10,000.00 which I do not have. I have just been medically approved for a service dog and hope to begin training with this dog in the spring of 2019. Any donation big or small will be greatly appreciated!
Feel free to reach out to me regarding your personal struggles with mental health, so I can be of help or if you would like to know more about my personal battle with anxiety and depression.