I’m making my travel plans to return to Israel for two or three months. And I’m taking my Psychiatric Service Dog, Noga, with me.
I could pay an extra sum for Noga to travel under my seat as a pet, as she only weighs just shy of 12 pounds. That would save me a lot of grief and trouble. However, having her in my lap pretty much guarantees that I will have a smooth trip unbothered by the extreme paranoia that tends to entrap me in places full of strangers. And if I start to get tense, she will let me know by licking my face that it’s time to take a benzo before I get into Bad Trip Land.
One connecting U.S. airline wants a letter from my psychologist affirming that I am indeed crazy, and entitled to travel with my dog in my lap, for free. Uh, that is, for no extra money. I wrote them a strong letter alerting them to the fact that they are in gross violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (which states that it is illegal to ask a person with a disability to disclose any personal information including the nature of the disability), and they replied saying that transportation is exempt from that Act. I intend to take this up with the Department of Justice, which made up the ADA and intends it to be universally conformed to, at least in the USA.
Then there is the form for the overseas carrier that my psychologist must fill out, to certify that I am not dangerous. Sigh. What’s really sad about this whole thing is that since the last awful mass shootings, “mentally ill” has taken on the undertone of “dangerous.”
We had that back in the bad old days of insane asylums, where people were locked up “for their own protection” (thus the term “asylum”), because people acting “weird” have always been alarming to the plodding and fortunate sane. Of course, our best and brightest scientists, artists, writers, musicians–all of them have been a bit wacky, if not flagrantly mad. Just give it a think for a moment, and you’ll see.
And that’s not even including today’s astonishing bumper crop of flat-out crazy actors, actresses, radio “personalities” and other
exhibitionists extroverts, whose job it is to get into all sorts of embarrassing public “situations” and make us all cringe when their publicists blame it on their “bipolar.” Bipolar, FOOT! Public misbehavior is what it is, whether they happen to be bipolar or no.
So between the heinous shooters and the famous mis-behavors, we who are truly sufferers of mental illness (and I DO mean sufferers) are stuck having to prove that a) we really are mentally ill and b) that does not mean that we are (God forbid) the next mass murderer.
The media has done us yet another grave injustice, by speculating that the recent mass murderers must be mentally ill, and that if so, the mental illness is what drove them to do what they did. The overwhelming evidence that the mentally ill are much more likely to be preyed upon than to be the predators is completely ignored. I have not even seen it mentioned in the media. The mentally ill, and that means me and maybe you, may as well be Mr. Hyde as far as the public is concerned (even though 25% of the public has at one time or another suffered from a mental illness).
Just for fun, I am going to apply to one of the TSA’s Trusted Traveller programs, so I can get through security faster and without having to take off half of my garments just to get through the line. (BTW they don’t do any of that crap in Israel, meaning doffing of shoes and whatnot. You still have to take your laptop out.) How many of you think I will get certified as a Trusted Traveller, seeing as I am a self-disclosed Crazy who travels with a Psychiatric Service Dog?
So. So far, I am being: forced to disclose my diagnosis;
Required to carry special documentation of my need for my Service Dog;
And as usual, will probably be pulled aside for additional screening at the airport. I shudder to think what they will do with Noga while I am in the Take-It-All-Off Scanner with the x-ray eyes. Isn’t that great? You just walk in and they strip you, for free, and you don’t even gotta take your clothes off.
Of course, if I had a “visible disability” like blindness, or balance problems, or even a non-visible disability like diabetes or deafness, I would not be required to provide extra documentation, because those are “legitimate” disabilities. Everyone knows that. But mental illness, now…..anyone could feign that, right, just to get their dog on the plane for free? Oh yes. I’m crazy, and I need my dog so that I….what was that I needed the dog for? Oh yes, so I won’t go wacko and shoot the plane up. That’s why.
Do you see why I’m feeling discriminated against?