Terry Martin Ph.D
Reflections on Life
LIFE'S LITTLE INSTRUCTIONS
LUNA THE THERAPY DOG
September 21, 2018 A dose of this will cure anything. (From a poster on my doctor’s examining room wall.
Life’s Little Instructions
Sing in the shower • Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated • Watch a sunrise at least once a year • Leave the toilet seat in the down position • Never refuse homemade brownies • Strive for excellence, not perfection • Plant a tree on your birthday • Learn three clean jokes • Return borrowed vehicles with the gas tank full • Compliment three people each day • Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them • Keep it simple • Think big thoughts but relish the small pleasures • Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know • Floss your teeth • Ask for a raise when you feel you’ve earned it • Be forgiving of yourself and others • Over tip breakfast waitresses • Say “thank you” • Avoid negative people • Buy whatever kids are selling on card tables in their front yards • Wear polished shoes • Remember other people’s birthdays • Commit yourself to constant improvement • Carry jumper cables in your trunk • Have a firm handshake • Send lots of Valentine cards. Sign them, “Someone who thinks you’re terrific” • Look people in the eye • Be the first to say “Hello” • Use the good silver • Return all things you borrow • Make new friends but cherish the old ones • Keep secrets • Sing in a choir • Plant flowers every spring • Have a dog • Always accept an outstretched hand • Stop blaming others • Take responsibility for every area of your life • Wave at kids on school busses • Be there when people need you • Feed a stranger’s expired parking meter • Don’t expect life to be fair • Never underestimate the power of love • Drink champagne for no reason at all • Live your life as an exclamation, not as an explanation • Don’t be afraid to say, “I made a mistake” • Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know” • Compliment even small improvements • Keep your promises (no matter what) • Marry only for love • Rekindle old friendships • Count your blessings • Call your mother
September 21, 2018 I treat people who have panic attacks severe enough to trigger a seizure. Many are hesitant to travel; afraid their stress will trigger a medical emergency.
I was interviewing for an administrator one day and an applicant, Sarah, arrived with a black lab named Luna. Sarah said, “Luna helps me manage my anxiety. She gives me joy. I can work without medication.”
Sarah had been in the throes of deep, dangerous depression and taking antidepressants. She said she wanted to “accidentally overdose or be allowed to exit the earth quietly and gracefully.”
Then she met Luna whose joy when they played tug-of-war with a hand towel was contagious. Luna made her laugh. “Petting her eased the pressure in my chest,” she said. “It prevented a panic attack.”
Luna didn’t erase Sarah’s depression. She wasn’t magically better. Luna gave her moments of joy. Sarah said, “She gave me joy that I hadn’t experienced before.”
Most importantly, Luna made Sarah stop thinking about dying. “Even on the hardest days Luna neededme. I was responsible for my own life and the life of a pet that I loved desperately. She needed me as much as I needed her.”
Sarah had tried countless things to ease her depression and make life better, to learn to love her self and learn to manage her anxiety. “Now Luna gets me out of bed,” Sarah said. “She gets me to work, even if I want to sleep forever.”
Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) give U.S. residents several benefits. Just like full-fledged service animals, ESAs are about the freedom and health of a disabled person. Landlords can’t deny them housing. U.S.-based airlines allow them to fly with their dogs in-cabin, without a fee.
ESAs draw criticism. People say, “If you are such a baby that you need your pet maybe you shouldn’t fly at all,” or, “Pop a Xanax.” Why is medication always the answer? Invisible disabilities case people to roll their eyes and think, “What a faker; another selfish, system-player.”
“I want you to know how Luna saved me, “ Sarah said. “I want you to know I might not be here today if Luna had not entered my life.”
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