Talking about mental health is hard. It’s an effect of growing up in the 90s. (Or at least that’s my excuse.)
Now, I’ve struggled with depression, including suicidal depression, since I was very young. I was diagnosed officially when I was in first grade. And yet: I haven’t had consistent treatment for most of my life. Generally, I’ve tried to take care of myself– including spending time with my animals.
I didn’t hear about emotional support animals when I was an adult. By that point, I was sure that emotional support animals were for serious cases, someone who simply cannot live without their pet.
A) I was wrong because anyone with depression or anxiety can have their pet certified as an emotional support animal.
B) I always, generally to my deficit, didn’t seek the help I needed, believing that I didn’t need the assistance I really did. If that sounds like you, I cannot recommend enough trying to get the help you need. It’s for this reason that I started BetterHelp. (I want to mention now that I’m not paid for talking about any of this, this is just advice from a writer to other writers.)
But, I Found Out Getting an Emotional Support Animal is Easy (If You Need One)
Now, I have to thank one of my friends (who I won’t name), for talking to me about her dog, who is her emotional support animal. She is the one who explained that anyone with depression and anxiety can get an animal and that it is remarkably easy to get the certification letter.
Now, ideally, you have a therapist who can do this for you, but even if you don’t, there are several websites that will go through the required process with you. After doing a lot of research, I went with Pettable. You fill out a questionnaire, (if that looks like you are a good prospect for an ESA) you have the official consultation with a therapist, and then you get the letter.
Again, a professional makes the decision– it isn’t a given; if you don’t need an ESA, this isn’t for you. HOWEVER, if you’re reading this as a writer (basing things off my life and the writer stereotype), you may have some depression and/or anxiety. Making you pet an ESA means that you can take them far more places (but not everywhere as they aren’t quite disability support, a distinction I’ve been learning about).
Big Benefit #1: Your Pet Can Live With You
One of the hardest things about moving from my house to an apartment is the apartment search. We have two cats and a dog, Dorian. My pupper is the sweetest boy. But most landlords don’t want dogs or want to increase pet rent on dogs or want to restrict the number of overall pets to two.
According to the Fair Housing Act, as my emotional support animal, Dorian can live wherever I live. A landlord cannot refuse him as a dog and he cannot be counted as one of the pets against the overall pet limit. He also has more of a right to fly with me (though not a guaranteed right).
Big Benefit #2: Your Pet Can Live With You FOR FREE
One of the hardest parts of being a renter is the additional pet deposit and pet rent. When you make your animal an emotional support animal, it actually becomes illegal for you to be required to pay a pet deposit or pet rent. While this doesn’t limit any payments for other animals (such as our kitties), it can be a big help in keeping pet costs down– especially as a renter.
If you are a writer who has depression or anxiety and a pet, getting them certified as an emotional support animal can take away some of the burdens of searching for rentable homes and pet rent costs. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made for my mental health, my ability to find a home, and my pocketbook.
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