Carly Kent s Story
"All of the sudden this dark feeling comes over me and there's a dark figure approaching me. The figure begins touching all over me, hurting me. I am no longer a 21-year-old adult but am now terrified, little girl, reliving a nightmare. This is what a PTSD flashback feels like. This is a flashback from the darkest place in my childhood. All of the good memories are blocked out and replaced by this tragedy.
After leaving my hometown and moving to Charleston, I didn't realize it at first. It wasn't until I went back home for my fall break that I realized something was not quite right. When the break ended and I returned to Charleston things got really bad. It started with nightmares and then escalated to flashbacks and panic attacks.
It got to the point where I couldn't even leave the house without having a flashback and forgetting where I was. I could no longer function day-to-day. The feelings were so scary that I didn't want to live anymore. That was the final straw.
My friends took me to the Emergency Room, where they decided I should be admitted into the Institute of Psychiatry at MUSC. After a week of regulating my medications, they released me, so I could finish up my spring semester of freshman year of college. I started seeing a psychologist and digging out all of these secrets and feelings that had been stuffed way deep down.
After over a year in exposure therapy, my PTSD has gotten a lot better. However, I can no longer go to my childhood town without having all of my symptoms worsen and having to restart all the hard work I have accomplished to help cope with them. It is difficult trying to explain to your friends and family that your mental illness symptoms are worse when you are around them due to the triggers.
I also cope with my PTSD with the help from my service dog, Scout. He's small, white, and fluffy. There are times when Scout receives judgment and I have heard comments like 'What a small service dog' or 'Service dogs don't look like that' as I walk by. Scout is trained to calm PTSD symptoms. I needed a dog small enough to be able to jump in my lap during a flashback. Service dogs can be any breed and any size. Scout has not only improved my mental health, but he has also helped my GPA and class attendance rise as well.
I am still fighting this PTSD, along with major depressive disorder and anxiety disorder. It is not easy and every day is a new challenge. God put me on this Earth for a reason and He helps me overcome my mental illnesses every day. I encourage anyone who has been or is currently being sexually abused to get help. There's hope out there and you are not alone."