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Before You Recommend I Get an Emotional Support Animal for My Illness

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Anyone who deals with mental and/or chronic illness has probably heard the phrase, “You should try yoga.” A large portion of the abled community seems to think that yoga could magically get rid of depression or cure my rare blood disease. Those of us who deal with these problems know better. Yoga, tough maybe relaxing and nice for some, is not a end all cure all. Some people have illnesses and disabilities that would never allow them to even try yoga, and yet we all keep the day old phrase, “You should try yoga.”

There’s a new phrase cycling around now, and this time it’s from within the community itself. It sounds a little like this, “Have you looked into an emotional support animal?”

I want to make it clear, that specially trained service pets that act as guides and detect seizures are very different from what I’m talking about. I would need a few hands to count the amount of times someone from the chronic community has tried to talk me into getting a support animal of some sort. But, here is the thing, I can’t have pets. They cause me to have intense flare-ups. As much a I would love a dog at my side, it’s not possible. Despite this, many people I know (whether they have mental or physical illness) seem to try and convince me that a new support dog would be the perfect way to feel better.

“What about a hypoallergenic dog?”

“Once you have one it’ll be worth it.”

“It gives your life purpose.”

“A dog will give you a reason to get you more.”

It all comes with good intention. Just like yoga may be helpful for some, and terrible for others. Support animals are the same way. It won’t cure me, and it’s personally not possible for me in my current health condition. Support pets are a great thing and they’re super helpful or lots of people, but they aren’t for everyone. We all need to remember that what is helpful for us, may not be perfect for everyone.

Getty Image by Aleksandr Zotov

Originally published: October 17, 2018
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