A Service Dog for Eden

Hi, I'm Eden.  I'm a twenty-one year old from Augusta, GA who battles Anxiety Disorder (NOS) and recurrent episodes of Major Depressive Disorder.  I'm tired of seeing my goals and dreams fall apart in front of me, and, with your help, I'm fighting back.  

The anxiety and depression have been there to some extent for as long as I can remember, but it increased in severity about six years ago, in my sophomore year of high school.

Some people say that high school should be the best years of your life, but during my time in high school, due to various losses combined with chemical imbalance, I found myself medically homebound from school and with two visits to an adolescent psych ward.  I didn't know what else to do but did feel sure that I was unable to attend school regularly.  

On my best days, I can do my "regular" daily life activities with minimal panicky thoughts and self-sabotaging feelings.  On my best days, I don't compare my successes with other people's progress.

On my worst days, I am unintentionally and consistently focused on the anxiety and depression.  On these days, I feel as though I cannot get the negative thoughts out of my head, and that I cannot do any necessary life activities without draining massive amounts of energy.  A great explanation of this last bit is called the Spoon Theory, by Christine Miserandino, and there are plenty of explanations online.

In school, I had always been an honor roll student and worked very hard in the face of my struggles.  With much understanding and support from my family, friends, and teachers, I graduated from high school in 2011.

Despite this major acheivement, I knew that I was not yet ready to attend college.  My parents understood and supported me for two years while I tried to figure out what had to be done (and do it) so that I could minimize the negatives in my life and be able to acheive my goals.  During this time, I had two different jobs, neither of which lasted more than a month or two because of my problems with regular attendance and my growing exhaustion from all the thoughts I have to fight just to take one step forward.  

I wanted very much to be able to go back to school and learn and start bringing my life together in the ways I would love to envision it, but it could not be just any university.  It would have to be a true passion.  I decided to apply to my dream school, the Savannah College of Art and Design.  I had been imagining myself attending SCAD since sixth grade.

Not only was I accepted, but I was offered scholarships for both the grades I had worked so hard for in high school and for my writing portfolio.  I also had the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program working for me because of the time my dad spent working for the US Army.  My family encouraged me to pursue my goals.

I attended a wonderful SCAD program before the school year started that was designed to help prepare incoming freshmen with all kinds of disabilities.  I made friends and was able to move into my dorm early and work out some helpful medical accomodations for my classes.  I had everyone's support and was full of excitement, but after not even a few weeks of class, things started to go downhill.  In order to be able to stay, I opted for a reduced courseload.  

Unfortunately, at this point, all I was doing anymore was crying and sleeping.  The anxiety and depression were unbearable for reasons I still cannot understand.  Because I found it nearly impossible to attend my classes regularly, I ended up withdrawing due to my clinical anxiety and depression, not even having been at my dream school for two months.  

I came home brokenhearted and in debt.  While I still grieve my SCAD life at times, hearts do heal as well as they can, and the Veteran's Administration did forgive the majority of my debt, since it was for medically-documented reasons.  

Since leaving SCAD, I worked an office job for longer than I expected I could have.  It did eventually come to the same end as the others, but it took a longer time to get there.  I am still learning to be proud of my progress, even when it's slow.  

My efforts to combat the negativity I face from my own mind include attending weekly doctor's appointments, taking prescribed medication, and coping on my own through art and writing.  

I have gotten a job with people I like in a place that I love, and I am determined to keep it.  I have been there for about a month now and have had some trouble with attendance but am now working a minimized schedule and doing everything I can to make this work.  *** EDIT: I have made the decision to quit that job for now, as explained in various updates. ***

I have researched and evaluted what options there are to help me, and my family, my doctors, and I agree that a service and emotional support dog is what I need to make that difference.  A service dog will mitigate my disability by performing tasks such as bracing me for balance when I'm dizzy, grounding me during panic attacks, and much more.  A service dog will bridge the gap by helping me gain enough confidence in order to work toward my own independence.  A service dog could help me enough to hold a job, move out on my own, and eventually maybe even go back to college somewhere. 

Service dogs from organizations are usually $10,000-$25,000 in cost plus possible years on a waiting list.  These organizations are all over the country and usually also require travel for at least a couple of weeks of training.  

I found a woman locally, Loretta Emmons, who trains service dogs and has been working in animal behavior for thirty years.  She also runs an animal rescue and spay and neuter clinic.  I met with her and believe that she will be a great fit to work with me in training my service dog.  

Rather than the usual (at very least) $10,000, this fee is $2,500.  

$500 goes toward getting the dog a high-quality harness, and the rest goes straight back into rescuing and training the next service dogs.  

This $2,500 gets me the dog, the harness, six months of training, annual training after that, and a little help in some areas of the grooming and veterinary costs over the dog's lifespan.  Even after retiring him, I will be able to keep the dog.

As I said, right now, I am only capable of working about two shifts a week.  I still live with my mom, and while getting a service dog for me is important, necessary, and gives me great hope, we do not have the money lying around.  I need your help to reach this next step in my journey.  

Donations of any amount will be greatly appreciated, as will any positive thoughts and/or prayers.

I will continue to post updates periodically to keep supporters informed on my progress.  

Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Thank you,

  • Anonymous 
    • $25 
    • 78 mos
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  • Meredith Indermaur 
    • $25 
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  • Anonymous 
    • $25 
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Eden Mangrum 
Augusta, GA
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