Living with PTSD. A guest feature.

The following is Courtney's experience living with PTSD after witnessing the aftermath of her daughter being attacked by a dog.


I was told my PTSD was temporary, that as time went on and the scars began to heal, I would heal as well. I was told I would get better and that my intrusive thoughts would happen less and less. I was told that my mind would essentially forget most of the traumatic events that occurred that day. I was told I would be ok.

I may not be the poster child for PTSD and for a lot of people, they probably wouldn't even think I have it all. That's the hard part of this disorder, there is no straight definition, no blanket diagnoses. The severity of it is as different for each of us as the traumatic event that brought it on in the first place. Some people can see the most horrible thing and walk away untouched, never to think of it again. And then there is me... I think of my event every single day. It pops into my head at the most absurd times, it stifles my thoughts, it paralyzes my body, and then just as quickly as it enters my memory, it's gone. This happens over and over all day long, from the moment I open my eyes to the moment I close them. I have not gone one day since "the accident" that I haven't thought about what happened that day. It's still raw for me, 9 months later. I can still hear every word that was said, I can still see every drop of blood, I can still see every ghost white face and eyes filled with panic and disbelief. I can even smell the air I was breathing in that night. It is as vivid now as it was in the moments it was happening.

"The accident" is what my family calls the brutal attack, as to not further traumatize my daughter who has also been diagnosed as having PTSD, a severe anxiety disorder, and recently a seizure that could possibly be linked to her PTSD. Taylor, my daughter, is the strongest child I have ever met. She has handled her "accident" better than I ever imagined any 7, and now 8 year old, could. She's my Hero and I'm so thankful for her life every day.

While Taylor's PTSD is mostly suppressed from her memory, she still has debilitating anxiety and panic attacks causing her to become physically ill and most recently passing out and having seizures. She suffered from severe shock the night of her accident and because her brain chooses to block that memory, she could be doing anything, even something she thinks is fun, and her brain will go into survival mode and shut down. Her disorder is scary and keeps me on my toes day and night. I'm constantly making sure she is ok and trying to protect her as much as I can. Taylor's disorder is very different from mine even though both our disorders stem from the same traumatic event.

My PTSD fills me with rage and so much pain for my daughter, that I can't handle life happening around me. I have to shut everything out and sit in the dark until I can breathe again. My flashbacks are quick and to the point. They're intrusive and hurt my heart more than any memory I've ever had, but they last only a few seconds and then they're gone. It is the conversations or hearing other people talk about Taylor's attack that cause my mentally violent rage. I become someone I don't recognize. I scream and cuss at people I don't know because I am filled with more emotions then I can handle.  I've struggled for as long as I can remember with anxiety and panic attacks but, what comes with having PTSD turns me into someone I don't know.

As soon as anyone starts talking about Taylor's attack I can feel my body getting hot, I start to see spots, and I feel like I have a thousand bricks on my chest. My mind instantly shoots back to the night of the attack and then there I am holding my daughter covered in blood. I can't understand the words coming out of her mouth and I can feel the fear I had in that moment, that my beautiful, smart, perfect daughter had brain damage and had lost her right eye, that she would never be same. My mind is completely consumed with the vivid memories of that night, while my mouth is having a conversation with someone who has no idea what I'm actually thinking about. Sometimes I have to walk away when someone asks about her "accident". Other times I am able to overcome the flashbacks and continue to have a calm conversation about Taylor. But then there are the times where I don't even remember the things I'm saying because I become so enraged I lose control over my thoughts and words. The bad days are becoming fewer and far between, but they still happen and they still leave me feeling guilty for losing control of my feelings. I'm working on getting professional help because obviously my PTSD has not gone away like I was told it would. I'm ok with knowing I could have this disorder for rest of my life, but what I'm not ok with is my kids seeing me angry and hateful. I don't want Taylor to grow up hating the people who did this to her, and I don't want her little sister or brother to grow up to be hateful or spiteful either.

Writing this piece was my first step to reaching out for help. I saw a therapist a couple days after we learned Taylor was in fact attacked by the dog down the street. Deep down I knew all along that was what had happened, but when the police told me it was an accident and she fell, part of wanted to believe them. I wanted to believe that it was that simple, that she just got knocked over, and cut her head open. It hit me like a wrecking ball to know my fears were true, that she had been attacked, and it hit even harder to know that the owners of the dog refuse to admit what their dog did. It has been a legal nightmare from the moment we found out what truly happened that night. Some days I'm ok and my PTSD is manageable, I don't let it seep into me and ruin my progress. Other days are a lot more than I can handle and I have a hard time being around people. I am learning to balance my emotions and take every day as it comes. One step, one day at a time. I'm hopeful that with some help and understanding I will have more good days than bad. I am hopeful that I will be able to handle my PTSD, so I can better focus on helping Taylor with her PTSD. Taylor has spent a lot of time in sandbox therapy and animal therapy.  She is doing amazing and she is a true inspiration.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! I pray that you and your daughter experience great healing. You are a great writer. Have you thought of starting a blog? All the best to you and your family.