Hi, my name is Carly* and I am primarily starting this site as a place to write about the issues I have been facing for the last few years. I am also hoping that someone might stumble across this and relate to it so that they can feel a little less alone in a time of need. The experiences we have in life are different but incredibly similar at the same time and I think that it is important to open up about our stories and understand that the things we have been through are real to us and that the feelings we have as a result are valid. Often we are faced with the impression that we must keep quiet about our issues and “buck up” but “bucking up” is a very small part of recovery in my opinion. If you ask me, you can’t “buck up” if you don’t open up about what has been hurting you. The scars on the inside are just as real as the one’s on the outside and many people who do not struggle with mental illness or trauma struggle understand this concept.
Officially, I am diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, and PTSD. Unofficially, my general physician thinks I may have Bipolar Disorder but this has not been confirmed by a psychologist. However, I have had some luck with medications that treat both anxiety/depression that people with bipolar have seen success with so I can’t be completely sure either way.
I suppose you can say that I have always struggled with these issues which were deeply affected by my home life as I was growing up, but these issues grew worse as my freshman year in college drew to a close. I will not name names but at my university the infamous “Spring Weekend” serves as an excuse for college students and their friends to party and make reckless, life altering decisions. It was during Spring Weekend that my life was forever changed and I was raped by someone I then considered to be my “best friend.”
When it happened I remember waking up from the fog and feeling pretty muddy about the circumstances. I had been drunk, I had been what he and I jokingly considered “slutty” throughout the previous year and to make things more confusing the two of us had consensual sex in the past – in fact, I had lost my virginity to him. To add insult to injury, the man who had raped me the night before was my best friend. Someone who was my best friend could not hurt me like that; someone who I had enjoyed consensual intercourse with in the past could not have become my rapist, could he?
I struggled with this, and at times I still do. Just today I found myself thinking of the memories we had formed together before this happened, memories I had once found to be happy. But these memories feel tainted now, and if, on impulse I feel a slight feeling of happiness as I think of them I become overwhelmed with an intense wave of guilt that makes me feel horribly ill. I do not know how to handle it when these emotions come up, but I do my very best to use a coping skill in the moment and let myself feel these negative emotions because they are real and need to be experienced despite the fact that it makes life seem like it is hard to live through.
It has taken me years, on-going therapy sessions, embracing feminism, and a wonderfully supportive boyfriend and friend to fully understand that what happened to me was not my fault. No one has the right to violate your body. It does not matter who it is, what state you are in, what you are wearing, what kind of reputation others consider you to have, or the fact that you had given consent at a prior time. Your body is your body and rape is rape.
I will be the first to admit that trauma, society, and the media can affect how victims view themselves. However, it is important to refrain from giving your abuser continuous power of you by saying that your life has been ruined. I know it sounds ridiculous, but to say that your life is ruined is to admit defeat and throw in the towel. Yes, my rapist made my life much harder than it should it been. Yes, my rapist made my depression much worse than it ever would have been if he hadn’t abused me. Yes, my rapist destroyed my sense of self worth which led to numerous suicide attempts. Yes, he made everything in my life hard. But my life isn’t ruined. And sometimes it is hard to see that there is life after rape, abuse, or any kind of emotional and physical trauma but it is there. It can be difficult to find, I know it has been for me. But just try to keep going, even if it feels like the world is crushing you. Keep trying, even if you have setbacks with your mental health and you hurt yourself or you want to. We are worth more than your trauma.
Be loud, then be even louder.
*Name has been changed