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Service Dog Helps Man Navigate Life with Schizophrenia

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Quick Smiles:

  • Kody Green, a man with schizophrenia, shares his life with his service dog, Luna, who helps him manage his hallucinations.
  • Luna, a psychiatric service dog, was trained to help Green identify visual hallucinations and prevent self-harm during auditory hallucinations.
  • Green shares his experiences on social media under the handle @schizophrenichippie, hoping to help others better understand schizophrenia and possible coping mechanisms.

https://www.tiktok.com/@schizophrenichippie/video/7342449106838621482?is_from_webapp=1&sender_device=pc

Schizophrenia, a mental health condition characterized by hearing voices, seeing things that aren’t there, and unusual beliefs, affects approximately one percent of Americans, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Among them is Kody Green from Wisconsin.

“I started having symptoms of schizophrenia at 18 years old and was diagnosed at 21,” Green shared with Newsweek. His journey with mental illness led to struggles with addiction and incarceration. However, after finding success with treatment and medication, Green decided to share his experiences and coping mechanisms with the world.

Green, a speaker and mental health advocate, has amassed over 1.5 million followers on social media. He regularly posts under the handle @schizophrenichippie, providing a glimpse into his daily life living with schizophrenia.

One of Green’s recent posts highlighted the pivotal role his dog, Luna, plays in his life. Luna, a psychiatric service dog, joined Green’s life as a puppy. “We adopted Luna from a family friend that had an accidental litter,” he said. “We got her at 8 weeks old, and she is now almost 4 years old.”

Luna, according to Green, is not your average dog. “Luna was trained to help me with several tasks, including helping me identify visual hallucinations, grounding me and preventing self-harm during auditory hallucinations,” he explained.

“These were the only major tasks she was trained to do, and she is trained to help me with these tasks at home. Service dogs can be very expensive, and insurance doesn’t usually cover it, but dog trainers can teach many of these tasks as well,” he added.

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In a recent video, Green showcased Luna’s training during a visual hallucination, where he began “seeing another person” in his house. Green instructed Luna to greet the person, but Luna sat down and looked up at him, indicating that it was a hallucination.

“Luna is trained to greet people on command,” Green explained. “If she greets them, I know that they are really there. If she sits down and looks up at me, I know that it’s a hallucination.”

“By her not greeting the person I was talking to, I was able to realize I was having active schizophrenia symptoms,” he added.

Green shared the video to shed light on how Luna has made his daily life “more manageable.” “I just wanted to use this video as a way to help people better understand schizophrenia and possible coping mechanisms,” he said.

Green emphasized the transformative role Luna has played in his life. “Luna helps me feel more comfortable in my own home,” he said. “Unfortunately, I most commonly have hallucinations at home and in the evenings, so it is so helpful for me to be able to recognize these symptoms and be able to acknowledge that I am having hallucinations.”

Having Luna by his side has also helped Green alleviate many of the worries he once had about his schizophrenia. “I used to always question myself and whether or not I was having hallucinations,” Green said, “and Luna eliminates the fear, confusion and frustration that has taken up so much of my life.”

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