• Kristina Cherep

I Talk To Bring Awareness; Not To Be Trendy

It seems like mental illnesses are gradually starting to become less of a taboo because of awareness coming from many outlets. However one thing I have seen is people thinking anyone can have an ESA (emotional support animal) if they pretend to be depressed. This bothers me for many reasons.

I was prescribed three different kinds of medication last fall. An SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor), an NDRI (Norepinephrine and Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors), and an ESA (Emotional Support Animal). I was PRESCRIBED these by my doctor. Sure, two of them are pills and one of them has four legs. That doesn’t make one better or “easier” to get than the other. They all serve a different purpose to keep me healthy and safe.

I tell you about my ESA not to be trendy, but to make the people with mental illnesses aware of their options. I’m not trying to glamorize ESA’s. Sure, my ESA happens to be adorable, but that’s not the reason I have her. I have her to support me. It just so happens that I was lucky enough to have found a cute one.

I’ve seen tests online to take to determine if you qualify for an ESA and then they print you off a certificate if you qualify. Congratulations! .... However, for that to actually be “legit”, you also have to have a prescription written by a doctor for an ESA to be allowed in a non-pet friendly apartment and other places. You could try to fake it at the doctors office to get one, but usually doctors have good intuition. For me, I didn’t go to the doctor asking for an ESA. In fact I didn’t even know that would be something that would benefit me. My doctor and therapist recommended an ESA for me.

I am open about all parts of my mental illness not to be trendy or to get pity. I am open about all parts of my mental illness to make those who suffer or know someone who suffers from a mental illness know their options. Sure, mental illnesses can’t be found on an X-ray to prove their existence, but that doesn’t mean you should be faking it to receive the “benefits”. In fact, it’s very disrespectful.

I am mentioning all of this because I have had someone tell me that they can fake being sad to get an ESA. This brought me a lot of different feelings such as disrespected, misunderstood, and much more. I appreciate the openness that people have to talk about these topics, but make sure when you talk about it you are doing so in a beneficial and understanding way.

Someone also was complaining to me of the multiples dogs that were on their plane. They said it in a way that made me think that person didn’t agree with letting ESA’s on planes. It made me feel like they didn’t understand why those dogs are on the planes. Sure, there may have been someone on there who didn’t need one, but that’s not your job to judge that. I’m not here to be the ESA police because I don’t want to ever challenge if someone suffers from a mental illness. If they tell me they have an ESA, I’m going to assume they have a mental illness. However, just be aware of the damage that can be done by faking a mental illness. It’s maybe not damaging to you, but it can be to others.