I have been able to obtain a service animal, and it has been a tremendous help to myself. Then again, who would not feel safe with an 80-pound pit bull at their side? Bandit Tank (her name) would never hurt anyone, but it is a safe feeling. I was prepared for questions about the dog, and I am open with my mental conditions so I found no reason not to talk to people about it.
The occurrences that I did not expect are the following:
- Attempting to pet a working dog that is clearly labeled as “Service Dog”
- Attempting to sweet talk the dog
- Attempting to feed my dog a taco as we passed
- The completely personal questions that are being asked
I was okay with answering the question “why do you need a service animal?”. What I was not prepared for was the extremely personal questions people would ask. I look happy and healthy, but underneath everything is a woman who struggles with the demons of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder every single day. I mean every day, rain, snow, sun, it does not matter.
This brings me to my point. While being questions as to why I have a service animal, I have no issues answering: “I have PTSD,”. Then the personal questions start. I do not know why some people feel the need to know why you have mental illness. However, why I have PTSD is not something that I talk to strangers in the elevator at work with.
Then comes the question: “Military or civilian?”. Does it fucking matter? Our veterans are traumatized by seeing death, the boot camp process, and entering back into civilian life. My ex-husband would reach for his weapon (which was not there) for months after his tour in Iraq was done. That is his story, and along with other underlying issues. Civilians can endure just as much horror as our veterans. People have seen torture, death, suicide attempts, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse. So, does it really fucking matter that much to people what “type” of PTSD I have. There are two types: PTSD and Complex PTSD, that is it nothing more.
No one has the right to ask you or me the questions that come along. I have learned a lesson in this though. People, in general, believe that only our veterans are subjected to PTSD; everything else is just being a wuss.
I have become so desensitized to it that I have started saying: “that is a very personal question,”. This typically makes them stop. The other thought that comes to mind is that a person with PTSD does not want to talk about it at work. We are just trying to get through the day, and it is none of your business. I could say I have diabetes and it would not be questions, but mental health issues and everyone loses their minds (because it is not a part of the plan).
I have resolves to get patches for both sides of a PTSD awareness ribbon and an “ignore me, I’m working” patch for both sides of her vest. That is the only way to hopefully stop the berate of questions. Someone telling me that they just wish they got to see her tail wag, come outside off work hours while we are playing together outside and her vest is not on.
These are things that I now deal with, but I have an 80 pound pit bull by my side to tackle it.
Thank you as always to Jenn Bovee.
Light up the Darkness,