Meet Charis and Margo
Recently, my roommate Charis got Margo, an emotional support animal. I realized that I knew very little about why they are needed and I figured some people reading this might have the same questions. I sat down with Charis to get her perspective on the newest member of her family.
First, tell everyone a little bit about yourself.
“My name is Charis, and I’m Rachel’s roommate. I’m a junior at Belmont [University].”
I’ll fill in some blanks as well. She is a music business major and aspiring Christian artist. She’s super talented and an all around great friend. She is someone who I can talk to about anxiety, because she gets what it is like to have it.
When did you first start struggling with anxiety?
“I had it when I was little, but I didn’t know that’s what it was. I would just worry about random things. Like, things that a kid shouldn’t worry about. One time, I got sick at a restaurant and then didn’t want to go out to eat ever again because I was afraid I would get sick again. So my stomach would literally hurt whenever my parents mentioned going out to eat. We didn’t go out to eat for like a year, because it made me so anxious and my stomach hurt. Bt I didn’t know that [anxiety] was what that was. But it got worse my junior year of high school.”
Did you go to therapy back then or take any kind of medication?
“I didn’t really take medicine or go to therapy back then. I tried therapy once because my mom made me, but I wasn’t that into it because I didn’t like it, so then I stopped. Then I started taking medicine my freshman year of college. I’ve been on pretty much the same medicine since then.”
And I know you started going to therapy this year. So what made you want to try therapy now?
“My anxiety just got worse and I tried talking to my mom about it, but she obviously couldn’t help me as much as an actual doctor could. So, I decided to give it a try. This time I’ve found it really helpful. It’s nice to just have someone that you can talk to that is trained to talk to you about anxiety and stuff like that. I still go and I still feel really good after I leave; like a weight has been lifted off.”
So you recently got a dog. Tell everyone about your dog.
“Oh my gosh. She’s the best! She is a mini Australian Shepherd. She’s two months old and she’s great! I’m going to register her as my ESA, which is an Emotional Support Animal, for next school year so that I can have her with me. After talking to my therapist for several months, I brought up the idea of an ESA because I thought that it would help me out to have something else to motivate me. This may sound super dark, but the mornings are the hardest times for me, because I’m laying there anxious and it’s hard to get up. So if I have a dog, I have to get up. I have to feed her and take her out, and that gets my day started so I’m not just laying there anxiously. So when I talked to my therapist, she agreed that it would be a good idea, so then I got a dog and she’s great! And it is already helping me because I have to put a lot of energy into taking care of her. Oh! And her name is Margo. (:”
If people are thinking about getting an emotional support animal, what are some things that emotional support animals help with and how do people go about getting an emotional support animal?
“I think it helps with just giving yourself something else to put your mind on. I feel like animals just make you more happy in general because they are so fun and full of joy. It makes you happy to see them happy! It also helps because you have a bond with your animal. I almost said friendship, but I mean it kind of is like a friendship. They just aren’t humans. To get one, you have to have been seeing a doctor or therapist for at least three months so they have gotten to get to know you and your diagnosis, and what you need. [The doctor or therapist] has to give you the diagnosis and fill out some paperwork. If you are in school, they give it to them and then the school will have to make sure it is okay with your roommates and your RD. (Fine with me, by the way. I met her and I already love her!) It is also important that she is the right fit for an apartment. So Belmont has a weight limit of 30 pounds. You just have to find an animal that is good for your personality and for where you are living!”
I really enjoyed sitting down and talking with someone about their anxiety journey and I hope that this has given some insight into what an Emotional Support Animal can do for a person. Leave a comment below if you have your own experiences with ESAs and also let me know if you would want more interview style posts! Thanks for reading.