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Distractions Can Only Do So Much

Guest Author: Angela

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

My world was turned upside down shortly after I started the 9th grade. I was in health class and we watched a movie titled ‘Date rape’. This video allowed me to see that I was a victim of sexual abuse. I began to think of the world a lot differently after that day. Who can you trust? Who really loves me? If I had never known this was wrong, would I have been affected? What if I had told someone when I was younger? Should I tell now?

It didn’t matter what I was doing, as long as I was busy enough to prevent myself from thinking

I decided to open up to a few close friends about the abuse. While they listened to me, I could tell it wasn’t a comfortable experience for them, and that they also didn’t really know what to say. I was feeling very alone, hurt, and afraid of the world. I began to bury myself into my schoolwork, get very involved in extra-curricular activities and spend a lot more time with friends. It didn’t matter what I was doing, as long as I was busy enough to prevent myself from thinking and it also allowed me to avoid the abuse. Towards the end of high school, my abuser moved away. I thought that my life would get so much better and I’d finally feel safe. Unfortunately, my feelings, stress, anxiety, and depression continued to worsen.

I got into university and moved into residence the summer after my graduation. The pressure of university really got to me. I began to get even busier (which I didn’t even imagine was possible). I began self-harming more frequently and not getting very much sleep. I hadn’t made very many friends in the first few months of school and felt very alone. I just wanted to feel better and for all of my stresses to go away.

One day, while skyping my friend from high school, I told her how much I was struggling. Shortly after, I was connected with a woman who had also experienced abuse. She recommended that I see a therapist at my school. When I went in for my first session, I was told that I had anxiety and depression. I continued to see this therapist for a while and also did a depression group through my university. My mental health continued to worsen, and despite my reluctance towards it, I finally decided to try medication. I also began to see a new therapist outside of school. At this point I was halfway through my second year of university; I was questioning my program, my self-harm was frequent and I was struggling on a daily basis. I decided to go to the police station to report my abuse, in hopes that it would help me to feel better.

I was sick of trying and didn’t believe that there was anything that could make me feel better

I finished the semester, hadn’t heard from the police at this point and was still feeling just as awful as I’d felt for a long time. I was sick of trying and didn’t believe that there was anything that could make me feel better. I decided it was time to end it-end my life. I took all the pills that I could find in my house, went to bed, and hoped that I’d fall asleep and never wake up. But then, my friend called. Knowing something was wrong she called the police. I was taken away in an ambulance.

I wish I could say that my suicide attempt allowed me to see the value of life and my depression and anxiety lifted, but unfortunately, as most of us with mental illness know, it’s not generally something that goes away. While I’ve learned skills to help lessen the effects of my illnesses, they still affect my daily life and I’m constantly searching for strategies to improve them. I have been officially diagnosed with major depressive disorder, anxiety and PTSD. I have completed a wide variety of treatment options including group therapy, educational groups, in-patient programs, more medications, and a variety of therapists. I have also recently tried rTMS, am currently trying EMDR and am on the waitlist for a regular psychiatrist and ECT.

I am proud to say that through all of this I’ve graduated from university, am continuing my education, have been able to work part-time, and volunteer. I have goals that involve helping other individuals who have been victimized and/or working towards preventative strategies for sexual abuse/assault. My story is too common and too many individuals suffer in silence. I hope that one day this will change and that individuals suffering from mental illness can find happiness.

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