Like many people in this world, I've struggled with anxiety. So much so that I was even working with training a Service Dog to be able to go places with me. And as many of you may know, losing my beloved dog, Jameson, was extremely rough on me for this reason (and many more).
Please enjoy the photo collage of Jameson and his various "at work" photos! Service dogs are tremendous for all types of disabilities and we truly don't deserve these angels!
My anxiety, thankfully, is more mild compared to some others, but by no means am I diminishing it, or anyone who has similar symptoms. For me, I can become irritable, I have difficulty handling uncertainty, I'm a persistent worrier.
In addition to the mental struggles, I will oftentimes break out into panic attacks (see second photo in the collage; it shows when Jameson would be providing Deep Pressure Therapy for me during panic attacks or depressive episodes) when certain triggers set me off and I become winded trying to calm myself down. My chest hurts, I get headaches, I'm often shaky, and twitchy.
I have obsessive compulsive tendencies like skin-picking, I have anxieties about being in new places, I struggle with sitting with my back to any door. But why am I opening up about this?
Well, I believe it's important to talk about it, spread information, let people know they aren't alone. And one of the more important things that I feel I've done with this, besides educating people about Service Dogs, is creating characters in my books that have Anxiety and/or Depression.
In It Starts With Me, the main character Amity Thorne struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. Although she's dealing with some real life or death situations, it's absolutely important to note that things don't have to be so extreme in order to feel/have anxiety. For some, going to a store truly IS life or death. For others who may not have to deal with such anxious feelings, they may not understand this.
Sarge, in a way, acts like a Service Dog for Amity. I used the experience and solace from having Jameson to adequately write the type of bond that is created.
I felt it was my duty as someone who struggles with anxiety/depression to create representation in my novels and I plan to continue to do so as I keep writing! I've been using my own experiences, but I'm looking into incorporating other struggles that even I don't have, or may not be as familiar with. I want people to read my novels and realize that there are many others that feel the same as they do. I want them to be able to connect through similar experiences, even if the outside stimuli is completely different.
So with that, I want to thank you so much for reading! If you are dealing with anxiety/depression, please try to remember that there are many out there that would love to help you, including me! I'm always here for anyone that may need to reach out.
And please, have a beautiful day!