Triggers After Trauma

Two nights ago my roommate had her FWB over and the two of them had spent the night getting incredibly drunk.  At the time I didn’t have any issues with this because they were keeping to themselves, and I tend to be pretty introverted so all I wanted to do was binge-watch Netflix on my computer.

Things were quiet in my apartment, I was dozing off in my bed to the episode of Friends where Monica and Phoebe switch apartments with Joey and Chandler, and suddenly there is an intruder in my bedroom.  It is 1:30 in the morning and I feel like I am in a haze but I look over the door and get slapped in the face with the real life Ugly Naked Guy.  In this case, thankfully, UNG was wearing pants but there he was, in my room shirtless and blackout drunk.

I am beginning to panic because this has happened to me once before just before I was attacked in freshman year.  I was wide awake within seconds of his appearance and immediately began to question who he was and what his intentions were.  None of my questions were answered, and I received in response was a blank stare and he staggered a few steps further into my room.

My heart is pounding and I am immediately scanning my room for some sort of weapon to protect myself.  However, the unfortunate truth is that I likely would not have been able to defend myself against this man as he was much larger than I am.  I continue to ask him what he is doing and continue to get a blank stare in response.

I feel small compared to his stare, I don’t know what he intends by it and that terrifies me.  I am starting to have flashbacks of my mouth being covered and remembering the pain I had gone through.  I cannot help but conclude that this man is in my bedroom to do me harm.  At this point in the encounter it is difficult to breathe.

After what felt like a few years this man turned his head to look around my bedroom and when he finally realized that he was in the wrong room he stumbled out, bumping his head on my wall while he went.  The intruder is gone and I am able to climb from my bed and rush to my door to lock it but for the rest of the evening I feel unsafe in my own apartment.

I am left fighting off a panic attack and I am on the verge of tears.  All I want to do is reach out to hold my boyfriend, but this is not something I can do at the time.  I try to tune into my show again but I can’t seem to pay attention to it.  Not knowing what else to do I curl back up in my bed and hug a pillow while I text my boyfriend about what has just happened.  And over the course of the next hour I find myself going through a multitude of different emotions ranging from anger to fear to denial and even shame about what has happened to me in the past.

These are feelings I have been trying to move past ever since the initial trauma but they still affect me from time to time.  This incident in particular has completely hindered my progress and caused my panic attacks to come back.  Before the other day I had not had a panic attack since late April, but this event ended my longest run without hyperventilating.  Now I find myself staying up all night, paranoid about someone breaking in and constantly running through my own personal trauma in my head.  I feel that I am in desperate need of getting to a therapist because my thoughts of self harm and low-self esteem are plaguing me again but I cannot go to one because I am in-between insurance for the next few weeks… don’t get me started on how I feel about the fact that I know I need help and that I want help but I know I cannot go get it because I cannot pay for even one session out-of-pocket.

Luckily my boyfriend and my friends are incredibly supportive and constantly make sure that I know how much they love me.  I try to take this in, and it does help to know how much they care.  However, when I start to give into my depression and anxiety it is easy to fixate on all the other negative aspects of my life and I have found myself in those dark places and considering self-sabotage and not showing up to work.  It’s been hard to find joy in the small things lately, even food seems unappealing these last couple days.  I feel like I have taken several-hundred steps back in my journey to recovery.

To make matters worse, following this incident I reached out to roommate and explained how uncomfortable I had felt the night before and asked that this man never be allowed in our apartment again.  She agreed to my terms and the very same night invited him over again.  So there I was, two nights in a row feeling terrified and locked in my bedroom because of man I do not know and do not trust in my apartment.

I know how important it is for me to see the bright side and keep on moving.  I am trying to stay positive through all of this and I am making sure to stand my ground with my roommate on this matter because it is important to me.  I have even considered reaching out to the Dean of Students and explaining the situation and how uncomfortable I have felt the past few days.  I find it truly unfortunate that she does not respect my need to feel safe in my own apartment and cannot see how our relationship can be repaired after this incident.

If nothing else, I’m working on my coping skills and trying to find a way to focus on the important things in my life.  I am relying heavily on my friends and boyfriend as they have been wonderful advocates and confidants for me.  I truly am proud of myself for standing up for myself because there was a time in my life where I would have said nothing and just tried to convince everyone that nothing was wrong.  I remember how much energy I used to put into smiling at everyone and pretending that I was happy and healthy.  But feeling triggered and unsafe are perfectly valid emotions and I reserve the right to cause a stir about it because it truly isn’t okay and the fact that this man was drunk at the time and does not remember intruding is no excuse.

I have come a long way despite the fact that I have had this setback, I would not have been so vocal last year or even a few months ago.


Be loud, then be even louder.

Love Carly