57 year old getting ready to retire at end of 2020 due to disability
Community Voices
Community Voices

I feel like I'm already gone #ChronicIllness

I feel like the real me died the first year I got sick.

9 people are talking about this
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25 people are talking about this
Community Voices

Acrostic poem: "How Are You?"

<p>Acrostic poem: "How Are You?"</p>
11 people are talking about this

Training My Own Psychiatric Service Dog as a Teen

When I first started working my dog as a fully trained service dog, I thought my life would be easier. Sure, everyone would focus on my cute dog, and maybe I’d have to tell people to back off and not pet her while she’s working a few times, but surely there would be minimal access issues, right? Because she’s just too cute. Well, it turns out, access issues come with having a service animal. That, along with your animal being called a “fake service animal” a few times. An access issue is what happens when a business owner illegally kicks out a disabled person with a service animal just because of their animal, or illegally asks for paperwork or an ID for the animal. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, business owners can legally only ask two questions: 1. Is that a service animal?2. What task or tasks has the animal been trained to perform? Legally, service animals do not have to be professionally trained and can be trained by their handler. They can also be any breed and size of dog, and can even be miniature horses. Unfortunately, I’ve run into several access issues with my highly trained service dog. Everything from a person thinking all service animals have to come from a program and be trained by professional animal trainers, to thinking that “psychiatric alert and response” is the same as emotional support, to just straight up illegally asking for an ID or denying me because they “don’t allow pets in the food court area,” not understanding that service animals are not pets. And no, my service dog is not an emotional support dog. Also, all that petting? Yeah, it really gets annoying when you’re just trying to go about your day. It’s why I turned my petting policy for my service dog from “ask before you pet” to “absolutely not.” Now, I’m not trying to discourage any disabled individual from getting a service dog. In fact, despite all these problems, it’s totally worth it. My service dog has saved my life multiple times from my own hands during suicide attempts in the middle of the night by going and waking up my mom, not leaving her alone until she checks on me. Service dogs can be trained to call 911, alert to potentially deadly medical episodes, and many, many more lifesaving tasks. My service dog is trained in psychiatric alert and response, autism assistance, and medical alert and response. I have multiple psychiatric disabilities, one of them being non-combat PTSD, as well as Asperger’s syndrome, hypoglycemia, and asthma. Yes, really, my service dog alerts to my asthma. Many people get surprised when I tell them that, but asthma alert dogs are out there. She even gets my purse for me, which has my inhaler inside, as well as my psychiatric medications. My problem is that my disabilities are invisible, and that my service dog is an atypical breed — a rescued pit bull. I got Diamond, my service dog, when she was just 2 months old, from a local no-kill animal shelter. Obviously, she wasn’t trained at 2 months old, and on top of that, she had demodectic mange and was underweight. So, I had to train her myself, with just a little bit of help from a professional trainer. I successfully trained her to pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen test, which is not required for a service dog to pass, but I wanted her to pass it anyway. The trainer complimented my skills, saying he would take me in as an apprentice if he could. I was only 15 years old at the time, but knew a lot more than most my age about dog training. I’m now 18 years old, and Diamond is 4. Despite people who don’t even know us as a team calling her a fake service dog over the internet (and in real life once), and despite all the access issues I get (which, interestingly, happen mostly at hospitals), I’ll never regret adopting her and training her to become my lifesaving service dog.

Community Voices

Disability battle #DisabilityBenefits #Disability

I won. It took 2 applications, so. many. appeals. and denials. I first applied 4 1/2 years ago, and should have a decade earlier.

I finally won. I count. I am seen and validated by a System. The System.
More importantly, I fought until I won.

My basic needs will soon be met on an ongoing basis. Someone reading this knows exactly how that feels... or how they imagine it could feel.

Don't give up. Keep fighting, one day at a time. 💜🔥☮

10 people are talking about this
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4 people are talking about this
Mike Antonacci

How Chronic Illness Can Transform Your Hobbies and Life

I’m bored as I write this, and I hate boredom. I don’t enjoy feeling like I have nothing to do, or nothing meaningful to do. Not even a little bit. A trend that I’ve noticed in myself is when I’m bored, I very much desire to play video games. I think it originates in my high school and college years; that’s what I usually did when I was bored. But chronic illness means I can’t play video games anymore, so it’s harder to flee boredom. I’m sure I could play if I forced myself to. As I engaged in repetitive motions to control the game (whether controller or mouse and keyboard), the nerves and tendons in my forearms would protest a little at first, then a lot. Not only that, my time I could spend sitting or standing is very limited, and I’m sure if I thought about it more, I’d rather send my sitting and standing time on something else. I know these things. I know what would happen if I tried to play game right now. Even still, knowing that truth doesn’t take away the desire to flee boredom. The desire and the emotions are still there: frustration I physically can’t do things that I want. Fear of boredom. Uncertainty about what my hobbies should be now. I haven’t lost all my hobbies. Some, I’ve had to alter. I still read, but since sitting is limited, I can’t binge read a novel in a day like I used to. I read during meals because I already have to sit to eat, so I might as well also be reading. A book stand means I don’t have to hold the book with my arms or crane my neck. I can still play board games with friends, although I do it laying down from the couch. I can still write, although now I type everything by voice. Some hobbies are gone entirely and there’s no way for me to make adaptations to bring them back. Hiking is out when 10 minutes of standing per hour is normal and 30 minutes of standing all in a row is a really great day. So is most exercise (though thankfully I can still swim). So are most social gatherings unless I preemptively ask if there’s a couch I can lay down on. Losing a hobby is a definite loss. There is no way around that. Any loss should be grieved, but it can be really hard to give ourselves the space to grieve. And even if we do, it can be hard to accept and move on. Even still, losing these hobbies isn’t all bad. My life needed pruning because I was overinvolved and too busy. Needing to lay down all the time due to pain has a great way of eliminating all that is unnecessary (and also eliminates some necessary things too). It probably wasn’t the best use of my time to binge read a book all in one day, so the fact that I need to read slowly, in small chunks during meals has been overall good for me. Video games already were a hobby I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep in my life, and my arm and hand issues made that decision for me automatically. I might not have ever chosen to give them up if it hadn’t been forced upon me. It’s been transformative in a way that I probably wouldn’t have chosen. I can see good in it, along with the pain of loss. I mentioned before that boredom prompted me to write this. I still feel the strong desire to run away from boredom with a hobby I’m no longer physically capable of doing. I could’ve tried to fill it with comedy videos and that wouldn’t have been a bad thing, but instead I decided to write. so you can hear some of my story. Hopefully it starts you thinking about your own story and the hobbies you’ve lost, but not just the loss, but the ways it’s transformed your life in a larger and wider-reaching way. If it wasn’t for chronic illness, I wouldn’t be writing this right now, but I think writing this has been a much better use of my time than any video game ever could have been.

Community Voices

Sneaky pup trying to turn away so I can't get a pic of her smiling!
Good thing her profile is still cute 😉💕❤

<p>Sneaky pup trying to turn away so I can't get a pic of her smiling!<br>Good thing her profile is still cute 😉💕❤</p>
32 people are talking about this
Community Voices

Struggling to set my boundaries with a toxic friend...

<p>Struggling to set my boundaries with a toxic friend...</p>
44 people are talking about this