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The Accident

My name is Cat and I am currently fifteen years old. I remember this event more vividly than probably any day of my life. This is the story of the traumatic event that caused my PTSD.

The date was November 11, 2006. I was nine years old at the time and there was no school for me that day so I went to my Grandpa and Gram's house. The day was perfect until lunch. It being November and I being a child, started talking about what I wanted for Christmas. My grandpa connected my ideas about Christmas with the decorations that were stored in the garage attic and decided that moment should be the time to get them. He got up and said he was going to get the decorations. Then he called me saying "Princess, come help me get the decorations down." He always called me his little princess. Gram followed us and the whole time we were setting up the ladder, she kept trying to convince him not to go up there.

I was so happy to have him home again (his breathing problems had made him weak and he spent a lot of 2006 in the hospital). I was so happy that I didn't think about the fact that it was dangerous for an old man with his poor health to get on that ladder. I never told him it was a bad idea to do it. He would have listened to me. He did everything for me . I was his little princess. (That is one of the things I feel a lot of guilt about to this day) Grandpa told Gram that he would wait until my Dad could do it for him, but I wanted him to get them now, so he was determined to get them for me. Gram held the ladder steady and he climbed up. Me being the ADHD and impatient girl I am decided to go wait at the door. I had my back turned to them when it happened. I remember the sound of his fragile body hitting the cold, stained cement. I thought it was a box of decorations until I realized that there were little red drops on the cement at my feet. I heard Gram cry out "Carl.....Carl...Carl!" I turned around to see the thing that still will never leave my mind. His blood was all over the back side of me and his head was surrounded by a puddle of blood that was getting bigger by the second. I stood there feeling dizzy and horrified to the point of not being able to move until my Gram screamed out "Catherine, go get John....Fast!" (John is their neighbor) I don't know how I got there so fast. I just remember the pounding in my head and how shaky I was. I was at the door long before I had formulated any words so I yelled random erratic words at him and dragged him back with me.

I tried to be the strong one who didn't cry or panic but I couldn't go back into the garage with Gram and John. I sat outside the garage curled into a tiny ball and just cried and felt dizzy.

Then the ambulance came with its sirens blaring and lights on. I shut my eyes, covered my ears and cried even more. I could barely breathe and I felt like I was going to faint. The paramedics got out of the ambulance and rushed in to help Grandpa. One noticed me all alone outside and asked me if I was alright. Apparently I was extremely pale. I said I was fine (a complete lie) because I wanted them to save my Grandpa. I didn't know what to do with myself. I wanted it to end. The ambulance finally left to the hospital and I was left behind with John who I always hated (and still do). My dad came and got me about ten minutes later.

The next day I was invited to go see Grandpa in the hospital but I was so scared and I was sort of traumatized. I thought as always he would be coming home and that I would see him then. Little did I know he was destined to pass away that night. I never got to say goodbye. I never had closure.

I attended the funeral but unlike everyone else, I kept my smile. It was fake but I felt that I needed to be strong for Gram's sake. I bottled the memories and feelings. I never let them out until they overpowered me.

I made it a few months short of six years on my own without any therapy helping me. I had therapy for my ADHD but I never told anyone about the nightmares or flashbacks. Finally after having a particularly bad flashback on my bus (I got out of my seat and ran to the front of the bus because I didn't know that I was on the bus anymore. I thought it was the day of the accident and that I was running to get John), I emailed my psychologist in tears about it. I thought that i was going insane. She gave me the assessment the next day as she scheduled an extra appointment for me. I was diagnosed with PTSD on September 17, 2012. I currently feel like it is beginning to ruin my life (especially dealing with ADHD on top of my PTSD). I feel like I just can't take it anymore and since it will be exam time in a week or two at my high school, my stress levels are beyond anything I have ever experienced. (Keeping in mind that for the first five days after the accident occurred I ate nothing and slept in my bedroom closet and hugged my new puppy) I have not left my room in two weeks (the entire Christmas holidays) and I have lost 7lbs.

I am not looking forward to attending school as with it comes more stress. I don't know what to do. I think about death all the time. I have no friends and my classmates call me "mentally ill". I feel depressed and get extremely anxious over the smallest of things. I don't know what to do anymore.
Catemily7797 Catemily7797 16-17, F 5 Responses Jan 4, 2013

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I am so extremely sorry for what you're going through and what you haven't been going through since the day of the accident. I have no idea what mental illnesses are like but if you need anyone to talk to I'm here. I love to listen to people, just know that. Message me anytime girl, you're not alone

Thanks goes out to WarriorMom who did truly put a spark of hope back into my life. I have not been doing anything my psychologist told me to do. My mom and I am not speaking to each other, and our assignment was to spend some quality mother daughter time together. That makes me more stressed out because I have never failed one of my goals in therapy and I have until this upcoming Monday to patch up things with my mom to succeed. The reason my mom and I are not speaking with each other is because I don't sleep. I have been awake for approx. 48 hours straight as of right now. Lately my nightmares have gotten more vivid and I just don't want to deal with it so I just refuse to sleep. She believes that it is typical defiant teenage behavior and that I should be punished for refusing to go to bed. She thinks that being afraid to face the nightmares is a lie. I feel so alone and no one around me understands how difficult that disorder can be and the effects on your life it has. If I could guarantee that I was going to be able to sleep with no chance of that nightmare, I would be asleep in a heartbeat. I am so exhausted. I have to go. I need to try again to sleep. I need it desperately.

My heart goes out to you. I also have PTSD and have had to deal with it all my life. With that comes all the side diagnoses it causes. I was in & out of the hospital & had hard core therapy for about 10 years. I'm sharing this only to give you some hope. Keep working toward a better way of life, because it can happen. I'm grateful I received all the help & support I did to get through it. Now my past is just a memory & I can choose what parts of it I want to think about. It's almost like a book I read a long time ago. I believe you can get through it also. I can sense the strength you have to do it.

Thanks 2011A.
I already have a psychologist whom I trust very much and see once a week for therapy. I have a bad social phobia and so I can't do group therapy without feeling sick to my stomach. I already have an IEP plan for school that says that my teachers can't make me go up in front of the class to present anything. That is the severity of my social phobia. My IEP also gives me the right to leave the class and go to the Learning Support room for short breaks if my anxiety is bothering me or when I have a flashback and need some support before returning to regular classes.

You witnessed the death of someone you loved. What you don't realize is that it wasn't your fault. It was an accident. You could not have stopped him. You need to get some counselling. Ask your family physician to recommend someone. Or get a counsellor. There are groups to help people cope with loss. Groups for people your age even. Please do this. And work through your feelings so you can live with less anxiety and problems. Your grandfather would want you to be happy, not troubled. Please do this. Reach out and you shall receive the help you need. Please.