My PSDit Joey

Monday, August 7, 2017

My Journey with Joey

Joey has been my faithful companion and loyal friend since February of 2015. He began training to become my psychiatric service dog to help me lead a more independent and fulfilling life by learning tasks to help me manage my severe anxiety disorder. He would accompany me to stores, restaurants, gas stations, or anywhere else in public that my anxiety had prohibited me from going. He was my date to several events and inspired me to speak openly about my mental illness and educate people about stigma and the use of psychiatric service dogs. On our journey together, we met incredible people and found love and support from our community and from all over the country; I'm beyond thankful.

A lot has changed in my life within the past year and a half. After several years of drastic medication changes, my doctors finally found the correct combination. This balance allowed me to develop coping skills and focus on my treatment. I was discharged from the intensive therapy program I had been in for nearly 2 years. I re-enrolled in college where I'm pursuing a degree in Community and Human Services. My mind and body are growing healthier, and I've found confidence in myself again.

As my mental health has improved, I've found that I haven't had to rely so heavily on Joey. He has become more of an emotional support dog over the last several months. I often get asked, “Where's Joey?” when people see me out. When I answer that he is home, some people look disappointed, but really, it is a positive thing for me to be out in public as an independent young woman. Although Joey is not currently acting as my service dog, I know that he could do this for me if I ever need this type of support again.

Even though I'm not using a psychiatric service dog at this time, Joey and I will continue to raise awareness and support for psychiatric service dogs and emotional support dogs. We will forever fight for those with mental illness and work to end stigma. I will continue to use Facebook and Instagram as a way to educate and connect with people. As I write this, Joey sits by my side (hoping I drop some of my dinner). Joey has been by my side every step of the way, and he will always remain by my side. For whatever the future holds, he will always be my rock, my hero, and my best friend.

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