The life as a child for Teagan Urzendowski would change when she turned six years old. This is when her paternal Aunt and Uncle would start abusing her. They would over the next course of four years abuse her physically, mentally, and sexually even raping her. DCFS came involved, but as in many cases with no physical evidence they walked free.
Teagan would start at eight years old self-injury and it would continue till she turned nineteen. She would do it once or twice a week, and up to twice a day when she did. It was her way to release her emotions and pain. Self-injury would snap her out of the flashbacks. People would ask her what hurt, she would just point to her new injury. She now realizes this is not the coping skill she once thought it was.
She has attempted suicide four times, hospitalized for mental illnesses over ten times both outpatient and inpatient hospitalizations.
Teagan is diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Dissociative Identity Disorder both related to the abuse. She as well diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder Depressive type, which was triggered from the abuse. These are controlled on Paxil, Prazosin, and Risperdal, as she is seeing a psychologist. At times they do EMDR ( Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) to help reprocess a memory, to keep her from bringing out negative thoughts. It has been a long process getting her on the right medication for her, trying many different types.
I asked her who supported her through all of this. She stated, “I have a lot of support from friends, family, and my dog. I just recently started opening up with my family about all that happened, but they have always been there for me every step of the way.”
When we got to speaking on inspiration and who inspired her, her response made me very happy to hear. “The first person who inspired me was myself simply because I was too stubborn to let them win. When I first attempted suicide it was my best friend who pulled me back from the car I ran in front of. She saw something in me that I couldn't see and since then has been a huge source of support. Also, my family inspires me. After all we've been through together they don't give up so they help me realize I can't give up either,” she stated. This would show me that the blame is not of herself, like many survivors do and has to learn it wasn't their fault.
Teagan did not let this abuse and her diagnosis' stop her. She started attending University of St. Francis and living in a dorm, working towards Associates Degree in Human Services. However, it ended up not being a good place for her. She didn't let that stop her though. She would go to finish her associates at Argosy University. November 11, 2012 she completed her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. She is determined to be disabled as of right now. This does not stop her from using her degree helping others. She states,”Helping others is all I want to do with life, even if not getting paid for it.”
I asked her what she would like to tell other survivors. “The main thing I would like to tell other survivors is to never give up and dream big. Nothing is impossible in life. Success to me isn't measured by achieving alone, it also includes all the times you were pushed down, got back up, and tried again. Never stop trying!”
I first met Teagan on Myspace when she was having a very hard time in her life. I then would start a chat blog where she would soon start blogging about her feelings. We watched her change right before our eyes in this blog. I then got the honor of meeting her in person at a Child Abuse Rally and Vigil in Chicago we was hosting. I would then get to meet her again at another event. For a period she was a member of Baby James Foundation, a group I started for children of abuse and their families. I hope at some point she is able to join us again. She is one remarkable lady that has went through a lot not letting it stop her. I want to close with a song that makes me think of Teagan, because she never let anything stop her.