Monday, September 7, 2015

My Emotional Support Animal

Almost exactly a year ago, I adopted my sweet little Luxe. We've had a wonderful year together; from coordinating Halloween costumes to traveling the Pacific northwest together to generally looking cute as hell together, our lives together have been really amazing. But as great as it is having her as a pet, that's not her sole purpose in my life. Since it's National Suicide Prevention Week, I figured it's time I officially share this with you: Luxe is my emotional support animal.

An emotional support animal is, in many ways, a service animal. She travels with me, lives with me, and, of course, provides me with the very important service of supporting me emotionally. The main difference between an emotional support animal and a strict service animal is the process the animal has to go through to become certified. Luxe just had to be her sweet self to be certified as an emotional support animal by my psychiatrist and therapist. I spent months looking for the right dog to be my emotional support animal. My process started in spring of 2014, when my doctor recommended I look into getting one. 

I could go into the complicated intricacies of my long mental health record, but I would rather focus on how Luxe has helped me than in what ways. Part of this mental health record includes a history of panic attacks. Since getting Luxe, my panic attacks have decreased from weekly to once in a blue moon. In fact, I'm generally just less anxious. Being around such a calming presence has been so amazing for my anxiety. 
Luxe also helps out with quite a few other things that I deal with, be they daily or occasional symptoms of my mental illnesses. She can and has helped me get out of bed on days when it's felt impossible. On days when I haven't been able to get out of bed, just knowing that she's there depending on my care and love encourages me to get through times when it seems impossible to keep going. She may not be the cure-all treatment for everything that I struggle with, but she certainly helps quite a bit.

Luxe has absolutely changed my life. I'd recommend looking into an emotional support animal to anyone dealing with whatever mental health concerns they may be dealing with. Like I also mentioned earlier, though, she is not a cure-all treatment. Her companionship is helpful alongside the use of therapy sessions and thoughtfully prescribed medication. It may seem easy to just sign your pet up as an emotional support animal, but there's a reason a certified mental health professional is required in the process of certifying an emotional support animal. I'd strongly recommend taking advantage of the therapist or psychiatrist involvement required in the process of getting an emotional support animal.

While I haven't exactly been secretive about Luxe's role in my life, I haven't exactly been publicly upfront about it, either. I'm not ashamed that I need an emotional support animal. On the other hand, it's not entirely socially acceptable to discuss your mental health problems openly. Mental health is considered a taboo topic in modern society, even more so than physical health. By not talking openly about mental health, though, we discourage a lot of people from seeking the help they may desperately need. Promoting open and honest communication about mental health is an important part of promoting suicide prevention. As hard as it is to admit and talk about the mental illnesses I suffer from, it adds to the dialogue about mental health and suicide prevention, which can only encourage the dialogue to grow and give people the confidence to seek the help they need.


  1. Thank you for posting this. I will be sharing with people I know could use the insight. I have clinical depression, and have been living with it for 40 years (since I was 12). It's good to see people talking more about it in an open fashion.

  2. Thank you for sharing with us, and I think you and Luxe are blessed to have each other!

  3. Hi Hannah, thank you so much for this post. More people can benefit from the positive effects of emotional support animals. We would love for you to post on our blog. Please contact us at admin (at) to connect with us.

  4. Recently, I've noticed emotional support animals starting pop up in pop culture. Often, it's played for a laugh, as in a character on a tv show getting his dog into a courtroom by claiming it was for emotional support. While I was annoyed that the relationship was treated as a joke, I have to say part of me was glad to see the very existence of this important mental health option even acknowledged in the media. More thoughtful information (like your post!) is needed. Thanks for being brave enough to share your story. Love to you and Luxe!

  5. Indeed animals can really change our life. You're both so lucky to have each other. Thanks for sharing!