I've had PTSD resulting from sexual abuse since I was five-years-old. I'm 22-years-old now.
As you could probably guess, that had a huge impact on my upbringing and my mental health as an adult. Although I'm recovered from the PTSD and the abuse now, the amount of time it spent in my brain made me much more susceptible to developing other mental illnesses as a result, and develop mental illnesses it did.
Throughout my life, I've struggled with bulimia, excoriation, chronic sleep paralysis, an immune system linked to stress and so many more that all posed their own unique challenges for me to overcome.
None of them came close to the depression I developed at the beginning of 2018, a year after I stopped going to therapy for my recovery.
On February 4th, the day of the Super Bowl, I tried to take my life. Obviously, my attempt failed.
If it wasn't for the quick reflexes of the person driving the car I ran in front of, I never would've gotten to be a mom to my Stella.
After the attempt, I immediately went back to counseling and was diagnosed with depression on my 22nd birthday.
The next few months were unbearable.
I remember actively struggling against the instinct to die. This event was enough to make me consider taking medication for my mental health, but I was reluctant. Throughout my entire two and a half year recovery, I had beaten PTSD without taking anything, so why did I have to now after so much time had passed?
I felt like I was being punished for being weak. I felt ashamed for backtracking on all of the progress I had made.
I stopped talking to everyone, couldn't get out of bed, and ate a package of Ramen every day for weeks while I waited for my appointment with a psychiatrist.
When that time finally came, she confirmed my diagnosis, prescribed me medication, and I went on waiting, this time for the pills to actually kick in.
It felt like nothing could get me out of the fog except for succumbing to my rare cravings, so one night after work I set off to the store to buy ice cream.
I was crying and I got lost, finding myself on a road I'd never driven. That's when I saw her.
She was half the weight she is now, and for an eight-pound dog, that's really saying something. The little tuft of grey hair on the top of her head had obviously never been taken out of a pony-tail until she apparently got out, for there was no band, yet the fur was still stuck in that position. It looked like her harness had never been removed, her eyebrows were so long they obscured her vision and she cowered every time we made a move toward her.
At this point in the story, a little background is needed.
Ever since I was a kid, I had never had a dog because of a severe fur allergy that would spark my asthma. It was extremely embarrassing. Every sleepover, social get-together or trip to a friend's house had the potential to end with puffy, red eyes, a streaming nose, and hives all over my skin. That was only if the asthma hadn't sent me to the hospital first.
Despite all of this, I didn't hesitate to pick her up that night. I still don't exactly know why.
She spent the first few nights in our bathroom with my roommate and I fawning over her every chance we got. We had her checked for a microchip and on the local ads for missing pups, but to no avail. Considering the state of her, we weren't too hopeful that someone was trying to find her anyway.
Curiously enough, I had next to no allergic reaction to her. I'm sure there's a scientific explanation for that, but personally, I like to chalk it up to fate.
It certainly seemed like fate; there was absolutely nothing standing in my way now from making her my baby. I named her Stella, and she became the emotional support animal I had always needed but never thought I would have.
The depression all but disappeared after I officially claimed her. Her funny quirks and tiny, fuzzy self had me head over heels that first night, so I couldn't believe my luck in getting to keep her.
Not only was she a project I could work on—she desperately needed to be trained and a new haircut—but there it was: a reason to live, standing about a foot tall right in front of me.
Even more encouraging was the fact that she somehow strengthened my immunity to fur. All of a sudden, I had access to the world that had always been starkly off limits but I wanted nothing more than to be involved with.
Stella gave me all of that. To this day she is my biggest stroke of good fortune; the one incident where fate pulled through for me in the most spectacular way.
I don't believe in God, but if she does exist, I owe her a beer for bringing me my Estrella; my lucky star I had wished on my entire life and who came through for me just in the nick of time.