Yesterday Brad, Marija, Doc, and I headed down to Columbia for the 2019 NAMI conference. On Friday, we had a peer retreat in the afternoon. Normally for our peer retreats we go to White Oak for a weekend and there is lots of down time. This year, they had the peer retreat on Friday, and we also got to attend the NAMI conference on Saturday. I was super happy to see my friend Laura!!! We only get to see each other at these NAMI SC events like once or twice a year, so it is special.
Laura gave a really good talk on food addiction. And I was on a panel about recovery. Unfortunately there were lots of questions about service dogs, so I kinda dominated the conversation for a bit. Eventually I had to say I wasn’t going to answer more service dog questions at that time! I hoped I didn’t take over too much…
The retreat part was pretty fun, but I wish it lasted longer and had more times for us to interact with each other! Friday night was the auction and awards ceremony, which everyone was invited to. Brad got the NAMI Stigma Buster award, and I was very happy for him! Too often I get recognized because I have the cute psychiatric service dog, and Brad gets less attention even though he does an amazing amount of work for PSDP and psychiatric service dog users.
The conference was Saturday, and boy was it a doozy! The day started off well with a talk about expecting mothers with mental health conditions which was really interesting. But as the day progresses, everyone ran over time, and instead of keeping people on track, they just eliminated ALL our breaks! This is not a good idea for a bunch of people with mental illness– we need down time to process. And I needed to be able to potty Hestia occasionally!
At lunch we sat with Laura and her family, but the talk at lunch ran way over (as usual) and I just HAD to take a break… Hestia was about to explode and I was feeling ill. So we left the talk early and went outside. Well, there was a street festival going on… So no rest and relaxation outside! I tried to get Hestia to do her business but like a million dogs kept passing by and I was doing worse and worse and like 10 people tried to pet Hestia even though she was clearly marked as a service dog!
Well, by that time I was just done. The 10th person came over, said in a silly voice “Oh I just love dogs!” and reached out as if to pick Hestia up. I blocked him with my hand and practically shouted at him “SHE’S WORKING!”. I felt awful, but I just couldn’t take anymore!
So we went back inside, as there was a talk on suicide I wanted to see. But I was so triggered by everything that Hestia was all over me. I tried really hard to calm down, but unfortunately the presenter felt the need to yell into the mic the whole time. I mean she was really yelling! I could have heard her two rooms over even without the mike amplifying her voice! So after like 5 minutes of that, I was doing even worse. I left, and found my friend Doc sitting outside, too. Then Marija came to check on us and we hung out for a while until that talk was done.
I was able to listen to the last talk, but by then I was so exhausted I just wanted to get out of there. We had an hour drive home, and then when we got home I rushed over to the vet to pick Ollie up. Only I got there two minutes after they closed! That means I have to go out tomorrow and get him, ugh. And that means he has to spend another night at the vet’s, poor guy.
On the bright side, I did get a video of Hestia doing a revolving door and some pictures! Brad is really doing poorly lately (so poorly we cancelled our next trip), so he couldn’t get out his camera and take pics. That means I took all the pics with my cell phone. Yeah, not great quality, sorry.