Let me tell you a bit of my story.
I had some scary things happen to me in my life: I was diagnosed with a neurological disorder in the 7th grade, was sexually assaulted by a family relative in the 10th grade, had my parents divorce after a traumatic narrative that spanned years, and was raped in my first year out of college.
This in tandem with my naturally emotions driven self brought forth a very unbalanced, and very unhappy Susan for a lot of my adolescence and into my early twenties. I could be happy and “on,” yes, but I was also severely unhappy.
I turned to a quick phase of substance abuse in the last year of high school into my first year of college, to control the control I did not feel I had.
There were certain years, when I did not want to live.
There were seasons I’d stand at the platform of a subway station in NYC and despite having just come out of a splendid date with a friend from NYU or with someone I was dating, I’d dissolve inside, trying to hold back the anxiety attack that was coming, only to barely control it or succumb to it and when the train finally pulled in, I’d enter the train heaving for air, so so relieved I was a bit of a pussycat and scared of jumping. There were also more times that I’d just cry in the train ride home, head down.
In 2013-2014, I was suicidal.
I remember thinking simply out of sheer despair:
I’m so scared of dying.
I’m so scared of dying.
But I feel so much pain.
I was also thinking
I don’t want to just live.
I want to LIVE.
God met me in this dark, dark place back then, in the latter half of 2014.
I then with all the courage I could muster, began to open up to some friends and to my family.
In 2015 I made a promise to myself, that I would not live this way, and 2015 was the beginning of my recovery and fight against the depressive thoughts and feelings I felt and heard in my head every single day.
In 2019, I am living and working to fulfill that promise to myself to live life at its fullest.
And now I am happy as a clam 🙂 (is that the right American phrase?)
For the past 4 years I’ve worked really hard to get a semblance of the joy others feel, and I’ve gotten there, even farther than I’d ever hoped.
I made a lot of mistakes in the process, but no one is perfect, and I was really trying.
(for example, falling in love with someone in early 2016, and not being able to handle the intimacy, or 2) not having been able to appreciate pleasure of touch earlier – I’m still working on that now, but feel like I’m on the tail end of it! I enjoy my romances now, thank goodness 🙂 I don’t feel any fear at all now! When I was younger, I’d feel tons of fear when a man touched me and would freeze inside and panic).
The healing is slow, and there are a lot more stories I want to share [and some justice I want to see in the world, if God wills it and it’s wise], but I will share them when I am ready to share those stories. All in their own time. One day, I’m going to be strong enough to call my perpetrators by name. For now, I’m going to work on continually healing and helping others lift themselves up too.
I don’t share this story with you because I’m over it, or because I’m stronger than you. Revisiting things like this make me quite sad. But I feel convicted enough and strong enough at this moment to share in order to encourage and stand with anyone reading this. It’s not easy, and for those who’ve had illnesses for a long time, I understand the hardened nature of the heart that comes with.
I believe that the world would be a better place if we all began to share and stand with each other more and hide, covet, and cover a little less. The world will not crumble down and your conservative family or community might gasp and make you feel shame, but who cares. That shame they make you feel is a lie.
It is your life one “wild, and precious life”, as Mary Oliver says.
On an overarching note, for anyone dealing with any present or past trauma, I want to tell you earnestly that there are ways out and you really won’t have to go back, that there are people all around you here to stand with you if you only extend a hand.
I’m with you.
So here’s to mental health awareness month.