I have been struggling with severe anxiety for almost my entire life. I remember my first panic attack occurred as a very young second grader afraid to get on the bus to go to school. Nothing in particular happened, but I can remember sheer panic. I can’t explain why I have had this struggle for so long but it is something I have learned to live with over the years. When I was younger, I didn’t even understand what it was that I was suffering with. It wasn’t until I was much older when I was officially diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety and Panic Disorder. I am not ashamed to share this story. Most people who know me do not even realize I have these struggles unless I share the information with them. However, it is not a rare problem and I want people to know that they do not have to face these challenges alone.
When I get anxiety attacks I start thinking the worst is going happen. I think people are judging when rationally they probably aren’t. My whole body starts to shake and I just start to feel incredibly nervous. I never want to make a mistake for fear of backlash. My thoughts sometimes get the best of me. It is not a fun feeling but there are ways to cope!
There are several things I do to help reduce my anxiety including exercising, listening to my favorite music, and breathing exercises. However, what has helped me the most is my connection with my Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Jax. When Jax is around, I can focus on him and his goofy self. He helped me so much that I wanted to share this blessing with others whom might benefit. That is why I trained Jax to be a certified therapy companion through another non-profit, PAWS for People. Jax has visited with many people over the years and I still get so excited when he can put a smile on somebody else’s face. I am truly blessed to be able to share the gift of pet therapy.
If you struggle with anxiety do not be afraid to ask for help. You are not alone.
Written by Christina Summa