Woman with Bipolar Disorder to train psychiatric service dog to help cope with symptoms

Posted at 10:49 PM, Sep 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-13 22:49:24-04

GRANDVILLE, Mich.-- A young woman struggling with a mental health disorder is working to train a psychiatric service dog to help her cope with manic episodes and suicidal tendencies.

Sydney Kamps, 24, appears to have it all together but she's been fighting an internal battle since she was a little girl.

“I found it really hard to make connections with kids my own age and then obviously as I got older, that just kind of turned into depression," Kamps tells FOX 17.

Kamps was formally diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder by the time she started college at Grand Valley State University. She says she experiences manic episodes in which she feels invincible and overly energetic. Those episodes are followed by extreme feelings of depression which include days where Kamps says she can barely get out of bed.

The effects of her Bipolar Disorder aren't things she can predict or control.

“I’d become so depressed that I’d become suicidal again and I just remember waking up and never knowing how I was going to feel that day," says Kamps.

Kamps says a turning point for her was attending a nine-month rehabilitation program in Missouri. She says it was there that she made friends who were experiencing similar things and learned coping strategies for her episodes.

However, she still experiences challenges. Kamps says since she's returned from Missouri, she's had several suicide attempts with the most recent occurring two months ago. That most recent attempt put her in a two-week outpatient program where she learned about the possibility of getting a psychiatric service dog. From there, "The Good Dog Campaign" was born to help in the costs of training the dog.

“It’s something I felt that if I wanted my life to continue on this positive note that I’ve been experiencing that I need to have something in my life that’s gonna be able to assure that," says Kamps.

Rosey, the yellow Labrador Retriever puppy is the face of the campaign and will come home with Kamps in a few weeks once Rosey is old enough. With specialized training classes, Rosey will be able to do things like remind Kamps to take her medication, calm her down during manic episodes and even call 9-1-1 if Kamps shows signs of suicidal behavior.

“I’ve kind of come to terms with the fact that I’ll probably have the highs and lows all my life but I want to be in a place where I’m not helpless," says Kamps.

Kamps will be able to attend training classes with Rosey and play a large part in the training, along with an instructor.

Kamps says living with Bipolar Disorder has made it difficult for her to maintain relationships with other people and believes she will form an unconditional bond with Rosey.

“It’s not something I asked for," says Kamps. "It’s not something I necessarily deserve but it’s something I have a lot of people just don’t, can’t handle it but the dog’s not gonna walk away, you know?”

Kamps plans to have Rosey certified through the Canine Good Citizenship Program which is under the American Kennel Club, then undergo two straight months of training. According to Kamps, the estimated cost of having and training Rosey is $1,850.

“It’s a journey but I think I’ll get there," says Kamps.

To contribute to "The Good Dog Campaign," click here.

September 9-15 is National Suicide Prevention Week. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.