World Suicide Prevention Day

I should have died 5 years ago, but it was like an actual hand pulled the gun away from my head and a voice told me to call my mom. And life got better. It didn’t get perfect, and sometimes it doesn’t feel easier. But I promise you, it’s worth it. You’re worth it.

Stay alive for me. Stay alive for your pets, your parents, your siblings, your job, whatever it is. But most of all, Stay Alive for yourself. Give yourself the chance to experience new things. You are loved and you are worth taking up space in this world.

I never thought I’d ever be able to go to college. People (mostly classmates/bullies) always told me I was stupid because I didn’t talk until the 8th grade. They told me I’d never be able to do certain things because I didn’t talk. They told me I was ugly, stupid, mute, castoff… Teachers didn’t want to help because I was too much work, guidance counselors sent me to the school nurse and even therapists, doctors said “well she just needs to talk.” I had a teacher even send me to the principal’s office because I was too terrified to answer her question in front of the class.

I wasn’t supposed to be happy. That’s what everyone wanted. They enjoyed seeing me fail because it made them look better. It made them feel better when I would cry in front of the class. I caused people frustration, people took offense, they called me “their special project” and didn’t mean it in a good way…

I’ll be 29 in less than a month. Do you think I thought I’d ever make it to 29? I didn’t think I’d make it to 20, and I sure as hell didn’t think I’d make it to 25.

I’m a junior in college. I’ll be a senior in April, and I’ll be done with my Bachelor’s degree program in November 2020. I’m proving so many people wrong and I have no plans to stop.

Yeah I’m in therapy every week, I’ve been to a mental institution a couple times, so what? It helps me. Those things helped make me strong and I live now for myself. For my dog. For those drives in my Jeep. For the day I can say I graduated college and made my parents proud.

And that is why I continue to fight.

Don’t give up hope. The battles you’re fighting today will make you stronger in the future.

#WorldSuicidePreventionDay

How I Got My Service Dog, Part I

finn sd

I’m sitting in my living room, watching my dog play with his brothers. They are wrestling and playing tug of war with a now unstuffed toy, growling and just having fun with each other.

I rescued Finn from the dog pound 4 months ago. I’ve watched him grow from nervous all the time to feeling comfortable and confident. He is everything I ever wanted in a dog and more. He was perfect for me the minute I saw him.

Let’s start from the beginning.

For a long time now, maybe a year, I’ve wanted a service dog. I didn’t have the means or money to afford one; it ranges from $1,000 to even $30,000 for a service dog from a professional service dog trainer. Obviously that is way out of my price range.

I did some research. I learned that I could train my own service dog! I went months trying to convince my parents to let me have a dog so that I could train him. They would say no, and I would try again later. In November of 2016, my mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I, of course, told her I wanted a service dog. She didn’t say anything, but I assume it was because she didn’t know her answer yet, or that she wanted to surprise me.

All of a sudden one day, she told me I would get a service dog.

On December 8, 2016 (yes I remember the date), my dad and I went to the Alexandria Animal Shelter. My parents both said that I could get a male dog. When we went in, the shelter employee showed us the male dogs. I, being an animal lover and wanting to save all animals from the animal shelters, wanted to rescue all of them. But of course, I could only have one.

I loved all of them, but now I had to decide which one to adopt. Behind me, the females were all barking, trying to get my attention. I was an emotional wreck, having to pick one dog out of all those adorable, yet unhappy, dogs.

I turned around to try to console the females, thinking it was a realistic task to perform. At the very end of the female side, closest to the wall and right behind me, was a dog that I instantly fell in love with. But the dog was a female, right? The shelter employee surprised me and said, “We ran out of room on the male side, so we had to put that one on the female side. It’s definitely a boy, though.”

The dog and I locked eyes, and I knew he was the one. His name was Henry. I told the shelter employee that this dog was the one I wanted to adopt, so we got the paperwork done, I paid, and we were on our way.

I renamed him Finn, a name I had picked out a few days prior, despite what the dog I would adopt looked like. It turns out the dog I adopted looked just like a Finn.

Finn sleeps in my bed right next to me, and if he decides I move around too much in my sleep, he goes to his own bed. When any of us come home, he has the most adorable little growl/bark that he only does when he’s super excited. He cuddles up to me on the couch, and lets me kiss him. In the beginning, that made him nervous. But now, he accepts it and even sometimes kisses me back.

When he rides in the car with us, he will put his head on the shoulder of whoever is driving, and he trusts us enough now that he knows he’s not going to the shelter again.

When I put his service dog vest on, he knows he’s going somewhere with me, and that alone excites the heck out of him.

He’s in training right now to be a full on professional service dog, and I will talk about that in part two of his story.

I love this dog more than I could ever describe.

I didn’t rescue Finn, he rescued me.