Bear — Service

Location: Rochester, New York

Bear is my hero. Before I got him, I was agoraphobic. I couldn’t drive, I called my mom everyday from school in tears having a panic attack, and I passed out daily from anxiety.
My disability took everything from me. I was an actress, a great one, I even got accepted into an acting conservatory in NYC, but I had to give up my dream because suddenly, as my illness progressed, I would have a panic attack just trying to find the soundstage. I was an AP student with a 3.8 GPA, but my illness took that too because I forced myself to go to college as soon as I graduated high school, refusing to admit that my anxiety and panic attacks were too advanced to not interfere with my ability to focus in school, let alone drive to campus. I was a brave person, I wore my leather jackets and did weapons martial arts, but my anxiety made me feel like I wasn’t cool or brave because “really? Half the world has anxiety why can’t I handle it but they can?”. I wasn’t brave. I wasn’t an actress. I was a community college dropout. My illness had taken my identity.
But then my illness gave me Bear. I hated the idea of having to rely on a dog to be able to get out of my house. I hated the idea that I was accepting that I was disabled. But Bear, he was there for me. We did it together. He went to all the medication meetings and all the therapy appointments. He alerted me to my anxiety before I had a panic attack and helped me calm down when I did have one. With Bear I’m me again.