Kate Speer






August, 1987: Born in Norwich, Vermont.

September, 1992: Diagnosed with a rare processing disorder and put in an isolated special education track given my high IQ and rare learning disability.

1992 - 2003: Excelled in athletics and through intensive tutoring, learned to read and write like my peers. The tutoring, although paramount in my success as a student, seeded deep feelings of insecurity that later developed into depression.

September, 2003: Diagnosed with Depression and ADHD.

June, 2005: Graduated from Hanover High School near the top of my class.


February, 2006: Began college at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont.

May, 2006: Finished my first term at Middlebury on the Dean’s List.

June, 2006: Misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder due to an unusual presentation of anxiety.

2006 - 2014: I was treated for bipolar disorder, an illness I did not have. The treatment combined with my brain chemistry created rapid mood cycling, hallucinations and prolonged episodes of suicidal depression. Over the course of those eight years, I was hospitalized 21 times.

Fall, 2007: First Psychiatric hospitalization for suicidality. During this stay, I was given electroshock therapy - a treatment that dramatically affected my memory and seeded obsessive checking behaviors that developed into full blown OCD a year later.

Summer, 2008: Institutionalized for three months at the Obsessive Compulsive Institute at Mclean Psychiatric Hospital in Belmont, MA.

May, 2011: Graduated from Middlebury College.

September, 2011: So affected by hallucinations, OCD rituals and persistent suicidality, I moved home and was put on disability.

2011 - 2013: A blur of psychosis, OCD rituals, agoraphobia and deep depression.

Fall, 2013: My one and only suicide attempt whereafter my care team stated the only way I would survive was under in-patient care and vigilant supervision in a long term care facility.

January, 2014: My parents secured an appointment with the only doctor willing to take on my case. Within a few appointments, this doctor determined that I did not, in fact, have bipolar disorder but rather struggled with severe anxiety and panic disorders. This ground-breaking realization gave me a second chance at life.



January 2014 to 2017: I committed to an intensive regimen of exposure therapy and through it rebuilt my entire life. I got my first job at a start-up, moved in with Dave and grew my life to include friends, meaning and community.

February, 2014: Waffle joined Dave and my family.

May, 2014: Waffle started cueing my PTSD flashbacks and I began training her to become my psychiatric service dog.

January, 2015: After a year of disciplined exposure therapy and the addition of Waffle as my psychiatric service dog, I was hardly recognizable and promoted to the Director of Sales and Marketing at the local start-up I worked at.



February, 2016: Upon recognizing my greater interest in marketing and narrative, I founded my own consulting firm specializing in the use of authentic storytelling and social media strategy.

2017: Upon being recognized for my incredible recovery and unabashed transparency on instagram surrounding my struggles with mental illness, I gave a TEDx talk on the power of embracing fear and vulnerability as a path towards growth, meaning and community.

September, 2017: I began traveling to share my story and empower others to be more open about mental illness and learn through fear. While in New York City for a speaking engagement about my unique bond with Waffle, I met Elias.

October, 2017: Dave and I got engaged.

November, 2017: Elias visited me in Vermont and while hiking in the green mountains we discussed the future of The Dogist and its potential to grow into a brand that brings community, social-impact commerce and even greater storytelling to the world.

September, 2018: Dave and I were married and bought a home in Norwich, Vermont.

2018: Elias hired me to be the CEO of The Dogist where I continue to work today.


My life today is a pure gift - one of wellness, meaning and community. I now split time between New York City where I run The Dogist and our home in the Green Mountains. The gratitude I feel for my recovery and current blessings fuel my work, advocacy, and deep passion for storytelling about the power of sharing vulnerability with others. I am here to serve those in pain and hardship and although I do not yet know where that passion will lead, I am determined to teach this world:

There is no shame in mental illness.


When we lean into pain and have the courage to share our vulnerability, we set both ourselves and others free.