I have a writing assignment to write an op-ed about something that we know about and care about and about something that has some differing opinions. Naturally I chose something that I am not super comfortable talking about, social anxiety and service/companion/emotional support animals. And in my research I've learned that pretty much no group of people involved agree with each other or have a very clear idea of what they are talking about. Which is super duper reassuring to me.
Even the official psych definition of Social anxiety is a little bit loose and up in the air and varying studies have slightly different definitions and qualifiers that they are working with so it's difficult to compare them. The name that most people are calling it though is SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder) which I think is just a really unfortunate acronym. Especially because it's also already used to describe Seasonal Affective Disorder---I think.
There isn't really fixed definition of social anxiety itself except for a general consensus that it must exist if everyone is talking about it. But there also aren't any clear rules or definitions of what makes a service animal. The ADA is vague and then there's all sorts of debate about whether or not animals who just serve to support someone emotionally are really necessary. Like maybe some people could get behind a dog being supportive but a ferret is pushing it.
And I get it from like the logical point of view, there should be assurances that these animals aren't going to be disruptive to other people nearby but how do you quantify what is disruptive and how can you prove that an animal isn't going to be disruptive on paper?
Also, when someone has a mental illness filling out paperwork and justifying the support that you need and don't fully understand is absolutely no fun and fills you with doubt about whether or not what you're feeling is real or worth anyone else's time. At least that was my experience.
Essentially this post is just complaining about how no one knows anything and I have no idea how people would get more definitive knowledge rules while making sure that everyone had the support and individualized care that they needed. It's one big wibblywobbly mess.
Here's a picture of Harriet being cute: