I will get back on track with my story another day but felt prompted by someone’s actions to write this next blog post,
Adjusting to life with Bert has been fairly easy and life saving. I have faced many difficult situations. The part I do struggle with is everyone else!
There have been occasions where I hear people whispering (they think they’re whispering anyway)
“What‘s PTSD? Oh she’s mental”
“PTSD is only for people who have been In war”
“She doesn’t look like she has PTSD”
Today‘s incident is what provoked me to write this. I have no doubt it probably came from good intentions however education is key.
See I was normal when I walked into the room today. I had my needs adjusted with my service dog by the side of me. I felt good. I had even forgotten for one moment that I had PTSD. I was normal. My needs were met. It was a day I was doing ok.
I had my 2nd Covid Jab today. I felt the stares when I went in aimed at the gorgeous Bert and everyone treated me normally. Most of the staff were pretty chuffed a dog was in the room. Always raises a few smiles.
It was going well until I walked into the recovery room and I was asked very loudly
“Do you want to go and sit in the corner by the beds where it’s quiet?”
I felt not ok in that moment. I was being treated differently to everyone else so I replied
“No it’s ok I will sit with everyone else“ just as loudly as the woman who said it. I felt embarrassed in that moment. The room was laid out in rows of about 5-6 people x 5 rows!
As I say I know she had good intentions but in that moment my needs had changed but not for what was going on for me...it was assumed needs. I felt my cheeks glow. I felt embarrassed. My shoulders slumped, my head went down and I walked forward to find a spare chair and familiar face. Hard when it’s full of faces covered in mask. The relief I felt when my two friends were there behind me. I told them of my disbelief.
We shouldn’t assume someone’s needs. A better way of asking if someone is ok “ is there anything I can do to help support you?” But not assume that putting me in the corner segregated from others is ok.
Bert is my needs met. He helps me get out to see others. I felt proud to walk in with him and that I was doing it. I was amongst 40+ strangers in a building unknown to me and I was doing it. I had a friend with me and others from the charity were there too. No mean feat for someone who has a fear of crowds, buildings where I don’t know where the exits are and also in Portsmouth where I policed. Flashback city.
It may not mean much to others because until you‘ve had a glimpse of what it feels like it could never be understood: it’s why I’m trying to educate people to being more open minded to disability and by bringing about this blog it will help you understand others needs.
It happened the same when I had suffered my injury and I was in a wheelchair. I went to a church to see a friends wedding and they said to me “We’ll put you at the back”.
“No, actually you can remove a few chairs to slot me in somewhere that I can see my friends wedding” Adjust to someone’s needs not to your assumption!
Be open minded that not everyone’s the same. Sometimes the needs are met because they have already put measures in place however use open questions rather than assuming that you know their needs. You’ll get a better response, cause less embarrassment and be respectful.
Thank you for listening!
Always free for you to ask questions if you ever want to understand anything about assistance dogs / Mental Health
Lots of love