A Personal Update

Question I

I would like to know how you are and how things are going. I don’t need or want to know gory details, I want to know what your present journey is and how it’s going.
How are you doing and are you okay? Is there a way that we as a blogging community can help?

Overall, I continue to do better as time goes on. I recognize most of my triggers by this point, which allows for successful avoidance most of the time. I also have been experiencing less dissociation and fewer (sexual assault) nightmares and night terrors as the months have progressed. I still continue to have nightmares often, but they are not directly rape related. It is also becoming easier to sleep—I have been able to taper down my sleeping medication substantially (from 150 mg to 25 mg). I attribute my improvement to having sought out help immediately after the revictimization last August. Although, despite my continuous improvement, I still struggle with disordered eating (I relapsed after the assault), touch, and trust. Regardless, the progress that I have made (mostly on my own) is tremendous, and I am so proud of myself. I have come so far.

But, as so many of us know: recovery isn’t linear. I still have quite a few bad days where I feel in a perpetual state of panic, unable to breathe. The flashbacks are overwhelming, and it feels as though everyone is out to harm me (which I know realistically is not true, but PTSD isn’t always logical). On these days, my eyes are always teary and I struggle to force-feed myself. I feel small; vulnerable. I wish I was invisible.

As of recent, however, my bad days have been occurring much more despite my positive progress. I am struggling to keep up with school and to maintain my interpersonal relationships. Not only can I not live this way, but I don’t want to. As a result, I have begun seeking out a new therapist that specializes in EMDR therapy (a new therapy for PTSD treatment). I want to recover. I will recover.

As for help from the blogging community: I simply request support. The act of support carries so much weight, and I value it so.

Thank you to all that have and continue to support me. It never goes unnoticed or unappreciated.

 

Question II

What do you find the most frustrating about recovery? What are things that other people say that hinder your recovery?

There can be so many frustrating aspects about recovery:

It is aggravating when those around you are not supportive.

One example: Following my revictimization, I talked with my therapist about reporting the assault. It was a very difficult and frightening decision. When I gathered up the courage to tell my mother, she told me not to. She told me that I needed to take responsibility for my actions, which was devastating to hear (especially from someone that I loved). Our interaction led me to change my mind, and I still worry that my assailant has harmed another woman because I didn’t stop him.

Another example: when I told my brother that I was raped, my mother followed up with a statement that I was high on marijuana. My brother then replied, “well, that’s why you were raped.”

Oftentimes, when working through your PTSD with a mental healthcare provider, your symptoms tend to become worse before they become better (note: this may not mirror everyone’s experience).

            When I began exposure therapy in 2013, my PTSD drastically worsened because I was reliving my assaults weekly. Although, despite how difficult, scary, and/or traumatic exposure therapy can feel, it works. And it worked for me. However, despite its efficacy I am opting for a new treatment option for my revictimization. I underwent exposure therapy for two years (mainly because I kept quitting), and I just don’t want to do it anymore.

Some of the statements from others that hinder recovery are:

“I understand”

If you have never personally experienced sexual assault, you cannot possibly understand what a sexual assault survivor is experiencing. You may have an idea, but you do not understand. Likewise, even if you have been sexually assaulted, you can never completely understand another person’s experience because we all experience events differently, even if they are the identical.

“You are overreacting/being dramatic”

PTSD is a complex and real condition. Those living with PTSD are not being “dramatic or “overeating.” They are, without a doubt, reacting normally given the circumstances. Further, let me point out that those living with PTSD want to feel normal much more than you want them to “stop being dramatic/overreacting.”

“You are/were asking for it”

No one “asks for it.” Imagine you are speaking to the victim of an airport shooting, post-shooting. Do you tell them that they were asking to be shot? No because they weren’t. Airport shootings (or any shootings for that matter) are acts of undeserved violence, like the act of rape. For that reason, you should never tell a sexual assault survivor that they were asking for it because they weren’t “asking for it” either. Let me ask one more question, do you personally want to be assaulted? No? Neither did any of us. 

“What were you wearing?”

This question is irrelevant because it doesn’t matter what you were wearing. Rape is not caused by the way you were dressed. Like I stated above, it is an act of violence. This question forces blame onto the victim, instead of the assailant. Let me ask you this: when you wear a swimsuit, are you inviting someone to physically harm you? No? Or how about when you wear shorts because it’s very hot outside? Also no? Do you want to know that I was wearing? Gym shorts and a loose t-shirt. Clothing choice does not cause rape. Rapists cause rape. 

The misuse of the term, “traumatizing” or “rape”

It can actually feel offensive when someone uses the term traumatizing or rape incorrectly. To say that you were traumatized because that you were yelled at by your mother or embarrassed by something is to say that my trauma (or rather, violent rape(s)) can be compared to your simple experience. In other words, you are invalidating my trauma by using the term “trauma” out of context. The same goes for the word “rape.” All too often I hear people yell out the term “rape” during a tickling match or something of the sort (normally this is seen with adolescents). This misuse is outrageous. By claiming that something is rape when it isn’t (even if it is a joke), you are again invalidating my experience. Sexual assault is serious and ought to be treated as such. It is not okay to make a joke of the concept. 

 

***

Please leave a comment or contact me personally with suggestions or requests as to what you would like to read most. Feel free to suggest/request anything relating to PTSD (i.e. general information, tips, my story/trauma/personal history/associated writing, comorbid conditions/related symptoms, etc.)

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