What My Dog Taught Me About My Anxiety

A few years ago, we adopted a rescue dog named Butter. We immediately noticed he had anxiety, but it wasn’t until this year I was diagnosed as well. Ever since then, I have felt connected to my dog in a strange way. Im not sure if it is because we calm each other down, or if we just have similar struggles. Either way, he calms me down and I hope I do the same for him.

Last week, my dog panicked because he missed my dad. I was home alone, which meant it was my responsibility to calm him down. When I was holding him in my arms, I finally realized something. My dog is a happy dog even though he has anxiety. He is goofy and weird and I think the reason why is he doesn’t care about labels, or even understand what they are.

As people , we are so focused on labels that we use them to define ourselves which can augment the problem of not feeling good about ourselves. In my experience, ruminating about anxiety doesn’t give me peace and understanding the way I expect it to. Instead it makes me feel like less of a person.

My dog however, doesn’t know what anxiety is. All he knows is he is scared. He doesn’t think about the opinions of the outside world. All he focuses on is breathing.

In my case and many others, the words “generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)” have defined me. It wasn’t on purpose. It just became my excuse and eventually my reason for not loving myself.

After watching my dog go from panic to my sweet little boy, I decided I had put way too much thought into my illness. My anxiety won’t ever get better if I don’t learn to separate my character and my disorder.

I am not my anxiety. No one is.

If you had asked me a week ago how I define myself, I would have told you that I struggle with anxiety and depression. Now, I’m striving to grow and become a separate person. My name is not anxiety. My name is Vicky.

This is my new challenge and I hope it can become yours too.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Generalized Anxiety Disorder

friends in a fight

How a Fight With My Best Friend Led Me to Take Care of My Mental Health

For as long as I have been therapy, I always thought I was doing the right things to further my mental health. My best friend, who deals with some similar issues, has always been supportive of me. She is basically my sister and if I didn’t have her around, I feel like I would be [...]

The 'Spidey Sense' My Generalized Anxiety Disorder Gives Me

I already had an inkling I was an anxious person, I always had a problem with worrying too much or being too caught up with the worst case scenario. But when I read the words “generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)” after feeling all kinds of awful for months, it gave me a bit of relief. It felt great [...]
sad woman asian ethnicity sitting by window

Anxiety, and What to Remember When You Feel Like Your Best Isn't Good Enough

I was brought up in your stereotypical Asian household. Anything under 95 percent was considered a failure, and that applied to every aspect of my life, not just academic. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not blaming my parents for having high expectations, or my sister or cousins for continuing this self-imposed, self-regulated system from [...]
Silhouette of woman wearing hat, standing in front of sunset sky and mountain landscape with birds flying

Anxiety and Depression: Sharing My Story Is a Step Toward Healing

I’ve lived with anxiety since as early as I can remember, and I was just diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) two years ago. However, I have yet to open up about spouts of depression to anyone, let alone a professional. Anxiety has been my loyal partner for years and years; it’s a toxic relationship, [...]