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February 28, 2019

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Mind Matters

Mind Matters: Living with a post-traumatic stress assistant dog

Richard Mearns, alongside his post-traumatic stress assistant dog Ziggy, speaks about the effects PTSD has had on his life and how Ziggy helps him to complete general day-to-day tasks and hold down a full-time job in ‘Mind Matters’, a series of mental health videos from SHP and The Healthy Work Company.

Mind Matters - Living with a post-traumatic stress assistant dogSHP and The Healthy Work Company are publishing a series of videos featuring people speaking candidly about their personal experiences with mental ill health.

In the fourth of the series Richard Mearns, an ex-combat medical technician under the Royal Army medical core, discusses his experiences with his PTSD.

Richard discusses his experiences with PTSD, his thoughts and feelings when he was first diagnosed, how Ziggy helps with his day-to-day life and how he is doing now.

“A post-traumatic stress assistance dog is a very new thing in the UK,” Richard told The Healthy Work Company’s Heather Beach. “He’s immense. He deals with my anxiety, he reduces my anxiety.

“Part of my post-traumatic stress is hyper vigilance, and as a result of that I am constantly alert, my adrenaline is running at high levels most of the time, and he regains my focus. He brings my focus down to him and interacts with me in such a way that I don’t feel as vigilant, for want of a better word, as I would without him.”

Richard was diagnosed with PTSD in 2019. “It was a friend that said, ‘I think you need to get some help, because of what you’re experiencing’, which at the time was flashbacks, tremors, and anxiety, I was snapping at the simplest things.”

“It has pushed me to the brink of suicide, I considered and planned a suicide to the point within moments of completing what I’d planned. It has impacted on family life and on the break-up of relationships. I have since learnt that I pushed friends away that I didn’t think I had – I just thought I’d lost contact with people.”

Richard describes how some days are a real struggle, but that “my work has been really flexible and enabled me to have an opportunity to work from home ad-hoc.”

He does feel that he can recover from the condition though, “I can’t say I will be the same person as I was before, but I would say that defining recovery would be more defining on how you deal with the situation and how I now manage the post-traumatic stress.”

For more on the Mind Matters series, click here.

Mind Matters: Suffering with PTSD.

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