I’m Better Than This.

I took a step forward today. I applied about a year ago to become a speaker for the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) speaker’s bureau. I suffer from PTSD and it has taken me the past ten years to cope with that, although I am unsure if you can ever fully cope with a trauma such as sexual abuse. I received an email inviting me to their speaker’s bureau summit! Once you attend the summit, you are then asked to speak at engagements hosted at high schools and the like. I found that writing about the things that I have experienced throughout my trauma and rollercoaster of a ride with bipolar have really helped me cope. I have shared my experience with friends over the years to coax them out of making some of the mistakes I did that left me vulnerable. Now, I hope to share this with others in an effort to do the same.

Much like The Bipolar Writer, RAINN is a safe space for sexual abuse survivors and without either I am not sure what I would do. I attend a group sponsored by RAINN, and The Bipolar Writer has been my sort of mental health group. Having moved so far from my main support system this really has been my life line. The past 9 months have been full of depressive spirals. Between not having access to competent mental health care to just not having someone to recognize the signs of me falling into a manic-depressive episode it has been the hardest time of my life.

When I got that email, I felt a burst of hope and something to look forward to. It was then that I realized that I have to do something that I felt so much shame for considering, I have to move back home. I love Texas. I love the trees and being away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I love how people here are seemingly much more kind. I love the pressures lifted off my shoulders because I am too far away from those close to me to worry about any conflict.

I have developed a lot of new bad habits in this move. I have almost completely isolated myself. Some of it intentional and some from having a lack of social life in a new place with no familiar places. I only really leave my house to go to work where I rarely interact with coworkers because if I am being honest, I am scared. The health care field is over saturated with potential workers here and due to that the pay is significantly less than it was at home. I am broke. I can’t afford the gas to drive an hour to my mental health doc, let alone the cost of the visit because I don’t have health insurance. So I have been off my medication and I really am not the nicest without it.

I stopped writing. I have a lot to say, but the motivation isn’t there. The motivation has been lost on a lot of things. I stopped keeping in touch with most of my friends back home and I dropped out of school. I am only five classes away from finishing my Master’s degree and I just couldn’t do it….or I wouldn’t. That isn’t me. I came to Texas to figure out what I wanted, who I am without the routine I was used to. I figured it out.

I am a social butterfly who loves nothing more than to hear every thought that her friends have because I genuinely love and care about them. I ENJOY seeing my mom multiple times a week and grabbing dinner with my sister on a Tuesday night because I know she is broke but loves take out. I like being at home and cooking (even though I am bad at it) for people. I often have so much to write about that I have word documents saved on my laptop because I can’t go posting it all at once. I have an intense passion for health care and have always strived to give the care that we all deserve, and lately I can barely make myself go to work, let alone give 110%.

I am going home. I have two interviews coming up and am starting to look at apartments for when I get there. I have boxes in my car so that I can start packing. I reenrolled in school and am ready to start writing again. I called my doctor back home so that I can get back on my medicine. I need to take care of myself.

This post is scatter brained and that really isn’t me. I think it is important that we strive to continue to share even when it isn’t pretty and polished. It is important for others to see what the truth it, it is important to bring awareness. Most importantly, it is important for me. I need to be honest with others because it helps me to be honest with myself. I am not okay. I have to stop telling myself that. I can’t carry on in this new normal because frankly it is getting out of hand.

Survivor Shame.

I am an outspoken person when it comes to mental health. It is clear that I am a passionate advocate for bipolar and depression. I feel like I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t divulge the diagnosis I struggle with the most. I feel like it is important to share victories and losses. I am losing this battle.

PTSD.

When I was 17 I was assaulted by a “friend” who I was very close with. I had known this person for many years. He was basically a part of my family at this point and he took something from me. I immediately reported it, but because I had been drinking there was no conviction.

No conviction with DNA evidence.

I too am still appalled at that sentence. More appalled than anyone reading this. Isn’t it funny? PTSD really sneaks up on you. Imagine that you are going about your day and a huge boulder falls in front of you. You can’t walk around it, it is too heavy to move, and the person you were talking to is on the other side and can’t hear you. That is PTSD. And that person? That is your daily life. It takes complete control of your body and emotions. It is like you can’t get a deep enough breath. (I’m looking at you with the anxiety, you know what I’m talkin about!)

I sought out help. Counseling offered by the state where I sat on a waiting list for SIX MONTHS. Private counseling which actually helped with a lot of other issues. I even tried group counseling. Do you know what that got me? Survivor shame.

Not survivor guilt, but shame. I felt so shamed that my stories didn’t align with theirs. I was told stories by all the other members of their abusive relationships and strange intruders. Everyone sat and listened intently. Then it was my turn. I tripped over my words and could barely get a sentence out. I felt brushed off though. I wasn’t looking for pity, but I didn’t think I would be treated like I had just sat down in the wrong class. It blew me away and left me feeling more alone than when I had walked in. It was so upsetting that I sought comfort in the presence of others who had experienced what I had and knew what I was going through. My biggest hurdle was feeling like my life was turned upside down with my new obsession of having to sleep in a room with a lock on the door or wearing a jacket to bed. I just felt alone.

I still feel like this. I know I am not alone, but it feels like that a lot. I have had people tell me, “that isn’t rape.” “That isn’t like tv at all.” “But you knew him.” “Just because you were sleeping doesn’t mean you wouldn’t have said yes if you were awake.”

It is hard to feel like you aren’t wrong for feeling the way you do. I even questioned myself at one point. “Did this happen?!”.

YES, it happened. TO ME! Olivia Benson where are you?!

Alas, my life is not a law and order episode. As much as I want to be told it Is okay to feel like this so many years after the fact, I really just don’t want to look at someone when they say it. I feel ashamed and embarrassed.

So, I lied to my psych doc. I told her I didn’t have any flashbacks or issues related to this assault. Truth is these news headlines have me all kinds of triggered. People out there saying things like woman need to have proof before they come forward and they can’t speak up years after the fact.

*steps on soap box*

We can tell OUR story WHENEVER we damn well please.

MEN CAN BE ASSAULTED TOO.

YOU WEREN’T EVEN THERE TO DEBUNK MY REPORT.

DON’T BASE EVERY VICTIM’S ACTIONS OFF OF ONE PERSON.

I AM ALLOWED TO DRINK AND EXPECT NOT TO BE VIOLATED.

I love you in advance for listening to me rant and spill my very very very emotional guts everywhere. I leave you with words of wisdom: Report it, don’t be ashamed, talk about it, write it down, yell, scream, and take care of yourself. As with anything bad: don’t let it become you. It happened to you, but it isn’t all you are. I am forever here if anyone ever wants to talk about any kind of assault. I will be your friend that understands and tells you it isn’t your fault, because it isn’t.

See my full length story here. It isn’t censored so if you are easily triggered, think before you read.