Surviving

Surviving

I know I’ve written about what has happened to me before. But I left a lot out of that post, partially because it was the first time writing down what had happened to me, and partially because I don’t think I could figure out how to put into words what I experienced. It wasn’t until recently, when my roommate told me her story of sexual assault, that I said out loud what had happened to me- not just physically, but psychologically as well.

It was June of 2006. My first boyfriend was 3 years older than me, had just graduated high school, and was preparing to ship off for Marine Corps boot camp later that summer. I was best friends with his younger sister for over a year before I ever met him, on a family vacation she invited me to. We spent a week in the Outer Banks in North Carolina that June. Her brother and his friend met the rest of us at the beach house a day after we arrived, and it was either that first or second night with them there that the four of us got into the beer stash after the parents had gone to bed. I remember he and his friend putting on a show to that song, “Barbie Girl”, and the two of us girls giggling nonstop. I remember sitting on the kitchen counter, while he handed me a Miller Lite- I’d never drank beer before, and even though it tasted like shit to me, I drank it to seem “cool”. I remember downing my first one to get it over with, and then he handed me a second, and then a third.

I remember sitting in this oversized chair in the living room, the room spinning slightly- but in the got-a-good-buzz-on-way. I remember him squeezing into the same chair next to me. He was massive compared to my 15-year-old self- 5’10”, maybe 190lbs. He was a football player in high school, and he was built like one. I was 5’2″ and barely 120lbs, and officially drunk after finishing my third Miller Lite. I don’t remember talking to him, but I remember him kissing me. I remember thinking while he was kissing me, “so this is what this feels like”– I had never really kissed a boy, I’d only played spin the bottle at birthday parties where you peck each other on the lips. This was real kissing, I thought. I remember my face getting raw where his stubble rubbed against it; I remember liking the way it felt to kiss him. But I also remember being nervous, feeling like I was doing something I wasn’t exactly ready for. I remember this feeling in my gut that I couldn’t name until recently- I was scared. I just didn’t know why.

The rest of that week was a blur. I remember laying with him on the top bunk in the room he shared with his friend, making out until the sun came up and sneaking back into the room I shared with his sister before the parents woke up. I remember he tried to touch me in places no one had touched before, and I remember telling him no. I remember him respecting that- at least that week. I remember watching the movie Jarhead with him, his friend, and mine in the living room. I remember the four of us getting ice cream, and the two of us walking under the pier and making out. I remember holding hands when no one was looking, and quick secretive kisses. I remember calling my friends back home, and telling them my exciting news. I remember thinking how completely perfect the week was, how they could make a movie out of us. It was all very romantic for me, a girl who’d never been pursued by a boy like that before that week.

I remember getting home from that vacation and aching to be with him. I knew I couldn’t tell my parents, or his, because of our age difference. I remember going to their parents’ boat the next weekend, and he met us down there. I remember him trying to touch me, I remember moving his hand from under my shirt to over it. I remember moving his hand from under my pants to hold mine instead. I remember the pressure I felt to move faster than I wanted. But I didn’t realize that wasn’t normal, that that wasn’t okay. I thought that’s just what boyfriends did. I’d had no other experience to tell me otherwise.

Eventually, just before he left for boot camp, his parents found out- by catching us making out in his room. His mom had the talk with us- had we had sex? (no- me saying I definitely was not ready for that), do my parents know? (absolutely not), etc. She promised not to tell my mother, and for that I was grateful (at the time). I made it clear that I wasn’t thinking about having sex any time soon, and he made it clear that he really liked me.

It’s been ten years and three months since I met him and it all started, so my memory is a little fuzzy- from time and from not wanting to remember, I suppose. But I am almost sure that the following events happened before he left for boot camp (but quite possibly could have happened once he got back);

#1. We were in his basement, with my friends, watching a movie. We were sharing a blanket. He put his fingers inside of me. It hurt, and I did not like it. He thought the quiet noises I was making were of pleasure- they were not. That was the first time he penetrated me digitally.

#2. Weeks after #1 happened, we were at a party at his friend’s house. My friends were there. He took me up to a bedroom, and forced me to give him head. That was the first time I’d ever done that. That was also the first time he told me he loved me- while his dick was in my mouth.

I think all of that happened so fast, I wasn’t able to process what happened or how I felt about it. I was also blinded by the fact that someone loved me, a boy- or rather, a man since he was 18- really loved meI was the girl in middle school who’d never had someone crush on her, who’d never had a middle school boyfriend, who’d confessed my feelings to a boy I liked just for him to “date” another girl. So to have this older, attractive, Marine say he loved me- I fell for it, hard.

He left for boot camp towards the end of July, with promises of writing me letters. He kept his promise, and for thirteen weeks I wrote him dozens and dozens of letters- during class, before going to bed, after dinner when I should have been doing my homework. It was a fairytale romance (in my head).  When it came close to his boot camp graduation, I convinced my parents to let me go with my friend and her parents to Paris Island, SC to see it. They agreed, but a week later my mother found out why I was actually going. The mother of a girl I played basketball with, who knew my boyfriend, had outed us to my mom during a run-in at the grocery store. I remember her being mad, but she still let me go. I think she figured if she tried to make me stop seeing him, I would just want to see him more. I think she thought she was doing the right thing- and it made sense. I probably would have rebelled if she had banned me from seeing him. My parents had been divorced for quite a while at this point, so I knew she wouldn’t tell my dad if I asked her not to. She didn’t. (My older brother, however, did later…)

When he got back from boot camp, he was different. Distant, and acting strangely the entire time we were in South Carolina. I thought everything was fine once we got on the plane, and I fell asleep with my head on his shoulder. Everything felt like it was going to be okay.

He was home for about a week before he had to go to a base in North Carolina to start his job training (extra training marines receive after boot specifically in what their military job is). It was during that week that I witnessed him being irrationally volatile. I remember I was sitting in a recliner in his parents’ living room, and he was arguing with his father. His mother was in the kitchen, drunk (but that was typical). I can’t remember what the fight was about, but I remember watching him shove his dad to the ground. I’d known his parents longer than I’d known him, and I loved them. I think I sat in shock for a minute, unable to move or say anything. He didn’t move after his dad fell- and then he crumpled, a heap of a man, crying on the floor. Something had triggered a lot of emotions in him, and I wish I could remember what the fight was about, to know what. I remember feeling like I needed to save him, needed to comfort him. I remember feeling sad for him…

A few days after that incident, was my sophomore Homecoming dance. He was not going to be my date, we (or he?) decided. I was going to have dinner with my group of friends, and he was going to drive me to the dance after. He had dinner with a group of seniors he was friends with. I remember this made me feel unimportant, and like he had to hide me. I remember getting into an argument with him that night about it. I know we made up later that night, but I don’t remember what he did or said to make me feel better.

The night before he was going to leave for training, we went to dinner with his friends. I remember ending up at one of the girls’ houses afterwards, and being totally ignored. I remember him asking for one of the girls’ phone numbers, right in front of me. I think it was then that he knew he had me, and he knew I wouldn’t stand up for myself.

He left for training, and we resorted to phone calls at night, and texts any chance we got. We would argue a lot- about him being jealous, or hearing things about who I was hanging out with. Most of it was stupid little stuff.

The next time he was home was the week of Thanksgiving. My brother, mother, and I were heading to Cancun for vacation the morning after he flew in. I begged my mom to let me spend time with him, and she agreed. He picked me up from my house after he got home, and we may have gone to dinner, but all I remember is being at his house, in his room. We were messing around, and my shirt had come off at some point. I’d missed him and couldn’t get enough of him. But he’d asked if he could “put it in” (insert eye roll here) and I’d told him no, more than once- probably five or six times. We kept making out, and he was fingering me, and I was okay with that. But then, without any warning at all, he was inside of me. I remember laying there, in shock, not sure what to do or what to say or how to react. I had told him no, hadn’t I? I’d made it clear what I was comfortable with, right? Did I give him some kind of signal that I wanted that? Am I supposed to do this because I’m his girlfriend? If he loves me, this is okay, right? But I told him no….. 

That night started a cycle of emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse. Not only did he have sex with some other girl once I had left for vacation, but he’d denied it- after his friend who had witnessed it told me. I dreaded every weekend that he came home. He would pressure me into sex, even after I said no. He’d continue to have sex with me, even after I told him it hurt and I wanted to stop, because he “had to finish”. He’d make me go down on him when I was on my period, because “it was the least I could do”.

Over winter break, he had brought me to a New Years Eve party after somehow managing to get permission from my mother for me to stay over. I’d been drinking smirnoff ice with his sister in her room, sneaking it away from the parents- and I’m pretty sure we were doing shots of vodka in between swigs. He and I walked to his friends’ house- ruining my brand new Uggs because the grass was soaked- where a bunch of kids who’d graduated with him the spring before were. I knew one kid in that house, because he was in my grade. But he was fucked up when we got there, and we weren’t really friends anyways. I remember he left me with his friends and a beer, while he “made the rounds” at the party. I was painfully shy, and didn’t want to talk to anyone except his friends. I kept drinking, and got drunk. He or his friend (not sure) cut me off, but his other friend kept sneaking me beers. I don’t remember walking back to his house, or what time that was. But I remember being in his bed, naked, and he was having sex with me. I remember stopping him- I wasn’t feeling good, but I had never gotten sick from drinking and didn’t know the signs of immenent puke. Needless to say, I threw up all over myself and his bed. He was pissed. His parents were still awake when this happened, and his mom helped him clean up. I somehow got cleaned and in his shorts and a t-shirt, and put in the guest bedroom with his two friends who were sharing the king sized bed in there. I remember him coming in, throwing my rings I’d been wearing at me, and yelling. I instinctively turned into his friend, we’ll call him B, and hid my face in his arm. That pissed him off even more. I remember more yelling, and eventually passing out. I was still only 15 at the time.

After that night, I knew I had to break up with him. But I was terrified. Terrified of his reaction, and how he would handle it. I’d never broken up with anyone before, but I knew he scared me. And I knew he could hurt me if he wanted to.

I didn’t break up with him then, and I let him go back to base in NC thinking everything was fine. I had met another guy, a senior at my school, months prior and felt myself falling for him. I’d even kissed him once, before my boyfriend had come home for Christmas. I remember wishing he could save me from him.

It took me two days and half a dozen phone calls to break up with him. He cried, he pleaded, he threatened suicide, cried some more… it was all very dramatic. Looking back, it’s easy to see how manipulative he had been. But in the moment, I blamed myself. I felt guilty for kissing that other guy. I FELT GUILTY AND HE HAD RAPED ME (but I didn’t realize that’s what he did, until years later). There’s this vivid memory I have, of being in Spanish class- where cell phones were absolutely not allowed- and he was texting me that he was going to kill himself. I remember going to the bathroom, and calling his friend who was stationed with him, and telling him what he said. He was put on a 72-hour suicide watch that day. I felt guilty over that for weeks afterwards.

After we’d broken up, things got worse. He hacked into my instant messenger and read every conversation I was having. He hacked into my Myspace messages. He went off base without permission- essentially going AWOL- multiple times. Once, to crash a party I was going to with the senior guy that I liked. Another, to come home on a weekend night that I was having a sleepover with his sister- waking me up at 5am and making me have sex with him in their basement. He scared me, but I didn’t know who to tell and I didn’t know if I was overreacting or not. So I stayed silent.

This went on for months after we broke up in January of 2007. On my birthday weekend, at the end of May, his friend B had a party at his townhouse, where his mother was out of town. My ex was there, and so were a couple of his marine friends. They were wasted by the time we snuck out of my house to get to the party, and his friend Tommy kept hitting on me. At some point, Tommy and I had snuck away and started kissing. My friend was supposed to call me if my ex was heading upstairs, but failed. He caught us, and then tried to throw himself off of B’s back deck. His friends caught him, and he was fine, but that’s when I realized how crazy he actually was.

Fourth of July, 2007, was one of the worst nights of my life. I had started dating someone new, but long-distance, so he wasn’t in town. B convinced me to go with him to a party at my ex’s parents’ house (they were out of town). I don’t know why, but I agreed, and texted my best friend telling him to keep texting me that night to make sure I was okay. We got there, and as usual I was the youngest person there. My ex had started seeing another girl (with the same name as me), and she was batshit crazy. Her and a couple other girls were there, doing shots, making out with each other- and I was completely out of my comfort zone. B handed me a beer, and I drank it and maybe two others. I wasn’t drinking liquor, or drinking that fast, but I got fucked up (I’m assuming B put something in that first drink). I remember the guys freaking out because two of the girls were in the shower together, and thinking to myself how pathetic it was that they were so starved for attention.

The next thing I knew, I was with my ex in his parents’ bedroom. I was kissing him, and I remember being on top of him. I remember thinking about my boyfriend at the time, and that I shouldn’t be kissing my ex. I remember stopping. I remember him being on top of me suddenly. I remember him forcing himself on and inside of me. I remember crying. And then B was there, in the room with us. I was on the bed, lying there, helpless to do anything but cry- I was way too drunk (or drugged) at this point, and the room was spinning. I can’t remember his exact words, but my ex basically offered me to B. And then it was happening again, except B was on top of me, forcing himself inside of me. I remember laying there, unable to get up. I didn’t scream. I don’t know if that is because I was too scared, or too drunk, or didn’t think anyone would help me. Probably a combination of the three. And my ex watched, the entire time. 

I remember leaving that house feeling humiliated, sick to my stomach from the booze and what had happened, and confused. B drove me back to my dad’s house, where I snuck in through our basement door- my dad had no idea I had left the house that night. I don’t remember how I got in without waking anyone up.

The next day, I was working my job at the spa as a spa assistant. My ex must have been texting me that day, because I remember him sending texts saying I liked it, I started it, I wanted what had happened. I remember being so confused- had I wanted that, just because I had kissed him? I didn’t know what to think or how to feel and started blaming myself. I remember he and B were outside of my work when I got off that day. I remember him telling me he was going to tell my boyfriend. I remember thinking, “But I didn’t want that, I didn’t want that!” I remember him telling me again, that I did want it. That I initiated the entire thing. I didn’t remember parts of the night, so I started thinking maybe I had started it, that maybe it was my fault… I thought this way for over five years.

That night was not my fault. That night, my ex and his friend raped me. That night, they took everything I had left from me. That night was not my fault. That night, they were two adult men, who raped a barely-16-year-old girl. That night, they took any innocence I had left. My ex started it, and he let his friend finish it- they destroyed any semblance of a childhood I had left. That night started years of me thinking I was a bad person, I was a slut, I was the problem. That entire year, from the moment I met my ex to the moment that fourth of July night ended, was the beginning of my spiral into depression and extreme anxiety. But that night was NOT my fault.  

 

It took me a very long time to realize what had happened to me was rape. It took me even longer, to realize that I did not deserve that, and that I was absolutely not at fault for what happened to me. It took me almost 7 years to call what happened to me rape. It took me even longer- almost 10 years- to write all of this down. Now I’m hoping to be able to tell this story aloud. But that will come in time, when I am ready. I have learned, from this entire process, that I can’t do something before I am ready. Like with the first post I wrote about my ex, I wasn’t ready to talk about most of what happened. In the last few days of writing this post, I learned that I couldn’t have been ready before- I am at a different place now, in a different space. A lot of that has to do with the recent sexual assault cases in the media, where the offender has gotten off on very little to no time served [i.e. Brock Turner the Rapist]. I need to speak out, if not for myself for other women out there, and for other 15 year old girls who might be in a similar situation. I want to change the way rape is talked about, the way it’s handled, the way society sees its survivors. I need to do something to change someone else’s story- mine will forever be the same, but if I can help one girl understand that her “NO” should be respected, than I will feel that telling my story is worth it.

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Accountability is Hard

… really hard. I’ve spent multiple sessions discussing this with my therapist- why is it so hard for me? Why, when I only have to be accountable to myself right now, am I not?

When I think about the reasons I haven’t been accountable to myself, or “honoring” myself as my therapist says, it all comes back to my depression and anxiety. But I don’t want to blame my mental illness for my lack of accountability, because that seems like a cop out. But is it? I’m not sure. All I know is, I don’t like disappointing myself.

I had promised myself to blog consistently, and I failed. Failure is the ultimate f-word in my vocabulary; I despise failing, feeling like I let myself and other down. It’s the worst feeling, in my book.

And although I failed to blog regularly the last few weeks, I have been working on setting my intentions for the day, and practicing gratitude. I’ve been acknowledging my negative internal thoughts and purposefully redirecting them towards the positive. It helps.

I think my main purpose for this particular post, is to remind myself that even though I may not be accountable to myself every moment of every day, that I am being mindful of what I need to work on and how I should get there- and reminding myself that that, in and of itself, is progress.

Gratitude, Affirmations, and Hope

Today, I am grateful for

  • my extended family, and still having both grandparents on my father’s side around.
  • the good weather / hurricane Hermine not ruining our outdoor party.
  • the chance to meet the newest members of my family, my cousins’ babies

Today, I love the following about myself

  • my hair- it looked AWESOME today.
  • my sense of humor.
  • my ability to go with the flow (today).

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That second list was a lot harder to come up with than I anticipated. I’m hopeful that it will get easier as the days go on, but it’s also makes me a bit sad to realize it’s hard for me to think of things I love about myself.

I spent the whole day with my family again, and got to meet my cousins’ new babies. I love babies so I was in heaven most of the day. I spent a lot of time reflecting today, on the goals I set last night and how I am going to start achieving those goals. I’m looking forward to the rest of the week, but I’ve always been someone who has loved being home best. I can’t wait to get back to the midwest and the mountains, and create and follow a daily routine that includes exercise, meditation, and cuddling my fat cat.

So as I end my day, with a glass of the most delicious red wine bought from a local winery here and watching criminal minds, I am hopeful for the future- near and far.

09.04.16

09.04.16

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything on here. Way longer than I intended, especially after having such high hopes for myself and this blog and how it would help me..

My depression is back. Not full-force, check-myself-into-the-psych-ward-again-depression. But the, sleep-all-day-and-eat-my-feelings kind of depression. I’ve gained back the weight I lost earlier this summer, and then some. I’m the heaviest I have ever been right now. By no means am I fat, but going from a size 6 to barely fitting into an 8 has been really hard for me. My self-esteem is lower than it’s been since high school, and I’m constantly aware of this (literal) extra weight I am carrying around. I’ve also had two pretty scary panic attacks in the last month, and worrying about those attacks has in turn made my general day-to-day anxiety worse. On top of that, I still have yet to find a full time job in my field, and am still watching kids for $15/hour when I have a masters degree. It’s a struggle every day to get up and do what needs to be done, and even harder when every day goes by without a job offer. The mental and financial stress of it all is bearing down on me more and more each day. The absolute worst part of it all is I’ve been having thoughts of suicide again, and that scares the living shit out of me.

I’m still seeing my therapist- but I’ve started lying to her about my progress (*but not about my suicidal ideations). I know this is stupid, and I know one of my main problems is avoidance, and yet I still lie. I lie about how much pot I’m actually smoking on a regular basis (a lot). I lie about having talked to my dad about some heavy stuff that has been weighing down our relationship and my trust in him. I lie about resolving issues with my mother that I have not resolved. I lie about submitting my licensure application (I haven’t). And then, I feel guilty after I leave because of the lies. But then when I go back, I’m afraid of the admitting my lies out of fear that my therapist will be disappointed. All of this is fucking stupid, of course, because I need to want to help myself, and lying is not helping myself. It doesn’t affect her whether or not I stop smoking pot, or whether I work things out with my parents or not- it affects me.  And it’s hard not to be mad at myself over all this. It’s hard not to see myself as a failure- which has been a theme as of late in our therapy sessions.

I also have yet to talk about the sexual abuse I survived when I was 15-16. I think I am avoiding that as well. My therapist knows it happened. But we haven’t gone into depth about it yet. I think every week when I go that I will finally talk about it, but I manage to use my 50 minutes without it being mentioned. I’ve been having dreams, and what feel like flash backs about it lately. I don’t know if it’s because the ten year anniversary of the first time it happened is coming up in November, or if it’s the news of Brock Turner and those like him who are literally getting away with raping women because they are privileged white men. My rapist/abuser is a white man in the military. I could never press charges because he would never be punished. It wouldn’t be worth it. Whatever is triggering these dreams/flashbacks/feelings, I just can’t shake that anxious, unsafe feeling I have almost constantly. And it’s getting to me.

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I’ve said more times than I can count that I want to get my life back, that I want to focus on myself and being happy. I got a taste of that happiness back in May, so I know it’s possible. I also know that once I’m happy again, that doesn’t mean I can give up on working towards it. I need to be accountable to myself, first and foremost. I need to own up to all the shit I’m doing to sabatoge myself from changing, from growing. I’m fully aware that I do it. I just haven’t done anything about it. And that’s bullshit. I know I can be better than that.

I left home yesterday to visit family on the east coast for a week. This is my revival. This is my chance to start over, start fresh. I’m done smoking pot– I told my roommate that I was done and that she definitely should not let me or encourage me to smoke. She agreed she would help me. This week without access to it is what I need to cleanse myself, mind and body. I’m staying with a family member that lives on a quiet road, surrounded by huge trees in the middle of New England. It is beyond peaceful here. This morning I looked at myself in the mirror, and took the time to notice how clear my skin was, how much I liked the way my lips are shaped and took in my own beauty and appreciate it, instead of feeling bad about the extra 20lbs I gained and desperately want to get rid of. I spent the day with my grandparents, and soaked in the feeling of being safe, of being with people I love and who have loved me literally since day one. I took the time to really appreciate the scenery and the warm air, while driving down the highway in my aunt’s convertible with the top down. I took the time to appreciate the quiet breaks in conversation, the feeling of eating ice cream in silence outside with these people I love so much. I laughed with my aunt about silly things my grampa said. These are the moments that matter. These are the moments I want to remember. Not the depression and anxiety I am battling, not the numbness of being stoned and eating nachos on my couch until I feel like I’m going to vomit.

I’ve been reading The Art of Happiness for over a year now. Between school, moving, and my battle with depression, it has been hard for me to read more than a few pages at a time. But every time I pick it up and read those few pages, I’m filled with a desire to live my life more like the Dalai Lama. The way he articulates how he sees the world, how he sees suffering and personal change, really inspires me. I would love to reach that level of enlightenment and peace with myself and the world around me. Reading used to be a release for me, and I really want to start doing more of it. I need a routine, and one that includes reading.

So I’m making a list of goals, daily and long-term, and putting them here. Today starts my accountability to myself (and whoever reads this I guess).

Daily:

  • Read for 20 minutes every day.
  • Exercise, in some form, for 30 minutes every day.
  • Make a list of 3 things I am grateful for that day (I will post these here).
  • Make a list of 3 things I love about myself every day (also post here).
  • Journal (here) daily.
  • Get up early, make some tea, and sit on the balcony each morning- meditate for 15 minutes.
  • Be productive – whether that be applying for jobs, working on licensure application, organizing my closet, cleaning, etc.

Long-term:

  • Get licensed.
  • Get employed.
  • Talk to therapist about the abuse.
  • Be honest, with everyone, including yourself.
  • Save money to take yourself on a vacation.
  • Hike that 14er.
  • Learn to snowboard this winter.
  • Learn to love myself fully, before trying to love someone else. 
  • Lose weight, but feel good about it.
  • Volunteer somewhere that makes me feel good- hospice, soup kitchen, etc- regularly.

I will add more to these lists as I go, but I think this is a good start.

I just want to be happy. More than anything else.

05.17.16

05.17.16

In 16 days, I will be graduating with my Masters, from an advanced 10-month program. It has been the hardest, most emotional, scariest, greatest 10 months of my life.

At the beginning of my program, our seminar professor had us write letters to our future, almost graduated, selves. He kept them until this past week, and I just read mine- I’m still crying. Here’s part of my letter to myself:

“I hope you’ve been challenged this year professionally. I hope you have challenged yourself, also, to grow emotionally. I hope you have learned to let go of all the negative thoughts and have allowed positivity to take over. I HOPE YOU HAVE TAKEN CARE OF YOURSELF! I hope you have left behind all your doubts and insecurities about your professional abilities.

I hope, most importantly, that you have learned how to accept yourself for all your BEAUTIFUL flaws, and I really hope you have learned how to LOVE yourself.

I hope you have the confidence to take charge of your professional and personal life.

But, most of all, I hope you are HAPPY.”

I am so happy. So happy with where I am at in life, so happy with the work I have done in therapy and with myself to be happy again. So happy that I wake up and don’t have to fight myself to get out of bed. So happy that I can go out with friends and have fun and not feel massive anxiety. So happy that I moved across the country a year ago. So happy that I have achieved so much already. So happy that I opened this letter, and all my hopes for myself 10 months ago came true. I am so happy. 

Prozac Confessions… and other things.

I have struggled with depression since I was 12, and anxiety since I was 15-16 (probably due to the douchebag that raped me). I remember, when I was 12, telling my mom that I was sad, and didn’t know why. She immediately made an appointment with my pediatrician, and I told him what I told my mom. He must have referred her to a child psychologist- I remember going to someone a few times, but not any significant impact coming from it.

Fast forward 4 years later, and me- being the drama queen I was- threatened to jump out of my bedroom window after being grounded over something 16-year old me thought was just absolutely ridiculous (I was probably being a shit head and deserved it, honestly). I had just gotten my driver’s license only weeks prior, and getting my car keys taken from me was the WORST thing that could happen… Which is why my dad threatened me with never driving again unless I agreed to see a therapist. *side note- my cousin had died by suicide at age 13 just months prior, so my dad was extra worried about both my brother and I*

He picked the therapist because she had the same name as his grandmother, with whom he was extremely close to his whole life. She was this 5-foot nothing eccentric Jewish woman who loved wearing long acrylic nails, lots of jewelry, and velour sweatsuits- I bonded with her immediately. I now know how incredibly lucky I was to clique with my first therapist so well. She was awesome, and I saw her all through high school. She never brought up the possibility of meds, and I always said I didn’t want to be on medication for the rest of my life.

But two months ago, that changed. I was at the absolute lowest point I had ever been in my life. For weeks I couldn’t shake the constant anxiety I was having, and my depression had simultaneously hit an all-time low.  For weeks I struggled, all while trying to keep up with my schoolwork and be present at my internship – I work in hospice, so presence is very important. I knew I was spiraling into a hole that just seemed to get deeper every day. Getting out of bed was the hardest part of my day. Not going right to bed when I got home was the second hardest. I was smoking a lot of pot at the time to cope with the anxiety, but it was making my depression worse.

Ironically, at the same time, I was working on an assignment for my DSM-V class. It was a diagnostic paper on a client or movie character, and since we do not diagnose mental health in hospice, I decided to do Susanna from Girl, Interrupted. Apparently, my subconscious was more aware of my situation than I was at the time. I had to watch the movie 10+ times in order to write this paper, and the thought of going to an inpatient facility to get help started to feel like what I needed. 

A few days after finishing that paper, I had a complete breakdown. I couldn’t make a decision, and was having massive panic attacks almost the entire day. I’d also been having suicidal ideations for weeks, and they were really starting to get to me. I called my best friend, and she urged me to go to the ER. I called the local hospital that also had a voluntary inpatient psych unit- they wouldn’t tell me if they had beds available, so I hung up on the woman. Clearly I was not in a good state of mind. After going to three different buildings trying to find help, I ended up in the ER and was then transferred to the psych emergency room. I was initially really hoping they would check me in for a few days, for a combination of intensive therapy and time to rest. I ended up only staying the night, but it was the first step in changing my life.

Long story short, I ended up on Prozac and Buspar daily. I found a great therapist in the same office as my psychiatrist. It’s been 8 weeks since I started the medication, and it changed my life. Seriously. For as adamant as I was about never being on antidepressants- I had tried Zoloft and Lexapro a few years ago, but hated the side effects and quickly stopped taking them, and had pretty much given up on that option- finding a medication that actually works has been incredible. Buspar is a daily, non-addictive anxiety medication that, like Prozac, builds up in your system over time. **I am not a doctor and am not recommending any medication over another, or medication in general. Everyone is different. You have to do what is best for you.**

I didn’t see any negative side effects of Prozac the first 6 weeks, but I did start losing weight which I loved because I’ve been struggling to get this freshmen 30 off me for 5 years. But last week, I started having very vivid, usually scary, dreams. For four nights in a row, I had the same dream- someone was after me, trying to kill me. The last night of that dream, there were tigers after me too. I had two nights of bizarre but not scary dreams. And then last night, I had the worst one yet.

I still don’t want to really talk about it, but the gist was I was raped, tried to report it, but no one would help me. I spent the entire dream trying to get someone, anyone to help me. No one would. I woke up in the worst mood, and have been having anxiety I can’t shake most of the day. Luckily, I see my therapist today.