Excerpted from You’ve Got Some Nerve: The Battle Back from an Invisible Injury

New Beginnings


Despite physically improving and doing well in therapy, my relationship with my boyfriend started to fall apart. I tried to control my emotions and PTSD, to get better, and to be who my boyfriend wanted me to be, but as much as I tried, it wasn’t enough. His lack of understanding and subtle criticisms when I was already down on myself didn’t help. Our relationship started deteriorating in September, four months after my surgery, and we eventually called it quits a couple of months later.


Breaking up on top of everything else going on obviously didn’t help my mental state. I felt ugly, unwanted, and alone. I spiraled out again into a hole of depression. Thank goodness for my mom. “Let’s go to the animal shelter,” she suggested one particularly blue day.


“No, mom,” I told her. “I don’t want to.”


“Come on, Derryen. If anything, the little kitties will make you smile. It’ll be fun!”


“Okay, fine,” I said. “Twist my arm.”


When we entered the cat area, we saw two adorable little kitten brothers, and I immediately fell in love. These guys are going home with me, I told myself. And they did. I named them Kanga and Roo, and they have been hugely helpful in my recovery. Having two cats to care for lifted my spirits in ways I never thought possible. Their unconditional love was (and still is) hugely powerful. While I previously hated sitting at home because being alone made me restless, Kanga and Roo have given me peace in my home and in my mind.


They gave me reason and purpose, and they kept me from feeling alone. I continue to suffer from debilitating night terrors almost every night, which cause me to wake up drenched in sweat. When I am having a night terror, Kanga will come and lie on my chest and lick my face, offering comfort or trying to wake me up from my nightmare. His compassion for me leaves me in awe.


My cats have been more therapeutic than I could have ever imagined, and they have given me more than I could have ever asked for—which goes to show that therapy can come in a variety of forms; you just have to be open-minded and willing to receive.

For more on my story, pick up my book here.