08-29-2019, 12:11 AM
Join Date: Aug 2019
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Originally Posted by Moonstream
I can definitely empathize on having severe symptoms but not wanting to see anyone about it. Freshman year of college, I was hit by amplified mental health symptoms far beyond what I had ever experience before (severe depression, anxiety/panic attacks, paranoia, splashes of agoraphobia), which worsened into Sophmore year when they forced me to withdraw mid semester. I have spent the last four years finding ways to cope with and minimize those issues. I now use a mixture of medication and a psychiatric service dog in order to do so.
Seeing a mental health professional is always an important first step. Sometimes it can take a few tries to find the right person to work with, but eventually you will, and it *will* help. When mental health symptoms begin to delegate how you live your life, it's time to get a professional involved. Good mental health professionals are non-judgemental, gentle, and encouraging.
In terms of looking into an emotional support animal specifically, I think it's first important to clarify what you mean by emotional support animal. In the US (if that is where you are) ESAs have certain protections in housing and in flying, but handlers are not granted the public access rights that service dog handler have (i.e., they are not allowed in non-pet-friendly stores). If you are looking for a dog that would accompany you in public, that is a service dog and that dog would need to be specifically trained in appropriate public access behaviors as well as at least one task that directly mitigates your disability/ies. Keep in mind that in the US there is no registration requirement and no federal registration. Some states have voluntary registries, but aside from those there are no legitimate registries.
Also, unfortunately, there are less and less metal health professionals that are on board with writing letters for dogs these days, and they worry greatly about any liability. It can be difficult to find someone willing to meet *just* to write a letter of need for that reason and, really, using a service animal or ESA as the sole coping mechanism is a plan that often backfires if the animal gets sick or dies or needs to miss a day of work for any reason.
Seeing a mental health professional and working on building coping skills, unpacking issues surrounding symptoms, and finding the right pharmaceutical or herbal options is, far and away, the best think I did for myself.
I have researched ESAs and was aware that they cannot go into non pet friendly stores the way a service dog can. That's alright for me, as I'm alright when I'm in stores or otherwise. I live in Canada but I think the rules for ESAs are virtually the same. I have been doing better. I've found something that helps me and, since I've been working out every day, I haven't had an attack. I'm far from perfectly fine but I am getting better.
Thank you so much for telling me more about ESAs. I hope you're doing good as well.