Lauren experienced crippling anxiety that resulted in her giving up her dream job as an events manager. She always enjoyed walking the family dogs, so her therapist actually advised her to ‘be more dog’! Now she is fighting back using the exercise, fresh air and pet therapy to help her. Now she is also getting back into events management again.
As a family, we have had a dog for eight years now and we actually got him for my mum after our dad passed away. We got the dog for company and to get her out the house. He really helped her back then and seven years later he helped me in the same way. At the start of 2018 I started to notice a change within myself; I became nervous in situations, I was claustrophobic in buildings and around people, I was unsure of myself as a person. I was anxious. I had anxiety. One day in May I had a panic attack that lasted 30-40 minutes, from this I started medication and therapy. My therapist told me to ‘be more dog’ throughout the day, to ‘stop and sniff’, just breathe and take things in around you. Act like a dog.
Last year a mixture of therapy; breathing techniques, medication, nature and the dogs all saved me, therefore Jake and Luna are a huge part in saving me this past year - I am not sure I would have made the progress that I did without them.
Fast forward the next few months, to days where I couldn’t get out of bed due to my anxiety and fear of panic attacks and that feeling that surrounded me, which I couldn’t quite describe. Days where I couldn’t make it to work or if I did, I couldn’t speak to anyone. Nights where myself and my friend had to leave gigs early because I couldn’t breathe. Nights where I didn’t sleep, I was completely knackered but couldn’t sleep because of the battle in my mind.
Working full time got too much, so I went down to part time and eventually quit my job - this had positive and negative sides to it. I couldn't function on a day-to-day whilst at work, so no longer being there relieved a lot of stress, however being at home all the time meant I wasn't going out at all. This is where Jake, Luna and my mum came in. My mum forced me to leave the house, only an hour to walk Jake and Luna round the park. An hour of fresh air, where I could play and the weight on my shoulders would lift slightly. Slowly it got better, slowly it was ok to walk the dogs and say hello to someone.
Over time I got to know the people who were always at the park, it became ok to have a conversation with these people, to speak to them without my heart beating too much and without the anxiety being overwhelming. The last part of that year was the turning point, when I realised how much the dogs had helped me and how much just being outside in nature had a calming effect on my mental health. The dogs were there for me whether I was indoors or outdoors, they curled up beside me when I was crying and needed a little support and they were there for me when I was outside, in nature enjoying the sounds and having conversations with owners. They were a huge comfort to me and their presence calmed me down when I was out and about, if this was by myself or having a conversation with someone then they were there for me.
I am not sure I am fully recovered from anxiety yet but I know so many techniques to help me through it and I know that my mum and both Luna and Jake will be there for me.