The True Power of Emotional Support Animals
We need to stop treating mental health like fake science.
I'm truly tired of the notion that 'service dogs' are a birthright of people with special needs, but emotional support animals are like security blankets for adults that just won't grow up. I get it. Some people abuse the idea of having an emotional support animal.
But, I know that having Charlotte (my emotional support pig) with me makes the difference between me being filled with uncontrollable frustration, anger, anxiety, and depression just by walking into a grocery store filled with the bodies of animals I love, versus being able to navigate situations while keeping focused on her and the calm she brings me.
Non-vegans might not understand the emotional turmoil that is caused simply by walking out our front door as a vegan. If you haven't wished away your existence at least a half-dozen times a day just for having to be exposed to the outside world, you don't know what it is like to be vegan in this world filled with advertisements of the latest way to use abused animal body parts or secretions to make the latest food trend.
And some quickly point out that emotional support animals don't require special training or perform any specific function. And to this, I would reply, yes, they are not forced to be anything more than the animal they are. But you are wrong to think they don't perform a specific function. In fact, I would argue that it is just as vital to my well-being to have Charlotte with me as it is for a blind person to have a dog to guide them. Unless of course, wishing you could escape this world is seen as less significant than having to ask another human to take you to the store because you are blind.
The point I'm hoping to make here is that we need to reconsider what we think of as worthy of support. Too often mental health is viewed as the equivalent of junk science. It is time we finally accept that people with anxiety and depression don't just need to 'grow up' or 'toughen up'. These are real conditions that require real treatment.
I suffer from severe anxiety with accompanying depression -diagnosed, and not by an online site selling ESA certificates- (and did even prior to going vegan). And it should go without saying that seeing the abused bodies of animals everywhere I turn serves to aggravate this. I know at this point, I have no legal right to take an emotional support animal anywhere but inside my home. And this means I must either go out into the world and suffer the emotional consequences or bring along Charlotte and risk being asked to leave stores because anxiety and depression are seen as less real than blindness or a peanut allergy. But, I'm pretty sure if we looked at the number of deaths resulting from depression linked suicide versus deaths related to blindness or allergies... this would seem way less obvious to most people. (44,000 deaths to suicide versus 200 to peanut allergy).
And please don't worry, this is not a cry for help or me saying that I'm suicidal. I'm a fighter. I push through the pain in the hopes I can leave this world a better place. I'm simply saying that there is way that people like me (specifically vegans in a non-vegan world) can find relief for their depression and anxiety. The emotional support an animal can provide us in this world is every bit a real a need as a blind person needing someone to help them around. To deny this is to say that mental health is not a real thing.