Tag Archive: rape


What up peeps? It’s been a while. Tons has gone on my end, as I’m sure on yours. I stopped in today to take a peek at some of my favorite blogs, but also to comment on something I have been thinking of for the past few weeks: Physical illness and PTSD symptoms.

My body is currently boycotting health. I have been sick for three weeks. To be honest, I would not be exaggerating at all to say that I feel like my teensy lil body’s been hit by a mack truck. I have often in the past few weeks reflected on the plight of my future patients who are chronically ill. Clearly, I am in several ways chronically ill, however this is a new experience. I have had back problems, surgeries, pain, etc. since I was 2. I had a super-shitty immune system. I get sick when someone who’s ten miles away sneezes. My nebulizer is my best friend (sorry to my human best friends… but open my airways and we’ll talk). 😉

Obviously, my PTSD is also something that is a chronic issue for me. But, I seem to be hacking it (oy! no pun intended) pretty well with that and with the damned my-body-thinks-it’s-88-not-28 pain. I have not been using narcotic painkillers to drown out the pain. I have not been dissociating (with any real frequency ;})… I have been FEELING it.

Ew!

As I said last time, I am not a fan of feelings. I still thoroughly stand by that. At the time I was talking about emotional pain for the most part, not visceral. But, I can say, this is not my cup of tea either. I used to crave pain of any sort because at least I knew I was in fact alive (that is NOT why I self-harmed, I think my self-harm was mostly motivated by my desire to drown out my emotional pain with physical). But, right now I’d really like to just LIVE.

I have been holed up in my house for a few weeks, and at some point gave up on the pretty much bedrest crap that was going on because I wasn’t getting any better two rounds of prednisone, antibiotics, and a partridge in a pear tree later. So, I decided, screw that—I’m not going to overdo it per say, but I’m not going to lie in bed. Bed sores are not something else I want to add to my shit list. I’ve had friends visit (which has been freaking AWESOME! Yay & thanks!), gone out a bit to do things I really want to, and I’ve enjoyed myself. But, I’ve noticed something the past few weeks, particularly as my physical symptoms have exacerbated…. so have my PTSD (and its friends) symptoms.

I have found over the past decade or two, that when I’m physically ill, my mental health takes a major nose dive. The only thing I can relate this to is the fact that when I’m physically ill, it doesn’t matter if I ignore that I feel alone, or am alone, or have to talk myself out of the fact that I’m not a little, helpless girl that no one is going to take care of (again)~I feel alone. And therefore I have to consciously or unconsciously remind myself that I’m an adult and I will take care of me with appropriate help.

Being sick leaves me feeling very very small and very much alone. I become a lot more symptomatic, feel a lot more anxiety, feel desperate, and am a lot more attention seeking. I often wonder if other people with PTSD or other mental health issues feel like those things turn up a notch when they are not feeling physically well?

Since I’m both feeling physically unwell & experiencing a lil mental health kick in the ass, I, though not depressed (there really is always another side to the rainbow), I feel really professionally unmotivated. I can read my Pathology book for fun at 7am, but not reach over for the material I’m actually supposed to be reviewing. This has been REALLY frustrating to me since things have really started to look up with my academics the past few months. I was sick (and around the time of my second to last final was flashbacking EVERYWHERE in a way I hadn’t since I was raped last summer) and still trying to keep other aspects of my life in balance, but my grades were stellar. I wanted to keep that motivation going at full speed. But, I think I misplaced it somewhere. I’ve searched high and low, and I cannot find it. I have an ugly feeling this is a fake it til you make it moment–and I hate those.

I have a lot more to say, but I will save it for later (hopefully not like 2-3 months later)… I really want to talk about hoarding, cleansing (of excess tangible baggage from hoarding), flashback reapperance, rape recovery, and keeping it chill during potentially triggering patient care. I look forward to being back soon and I hope you have all been well! Wishing you peace, safety, and some sunshine especially for those cloudier of days.

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fasten your seat belts, blah blah blah. Yep, things have been tough, feel free to send chocolate. 😉

Whenever I am so silly to believe that things are on the upswing, I’ve been duped again. I feel like Murky Dismal in Rainbow Brite, the dude who tries to take all the color out of the world. And … the best part, is that’s how I describe my father. I don’t even have time for daddy issues right now.

I don’t know how I still go to school. It requires every ounce of effort I can scrounge up to drag my ass here. I’m not sure where the extra effort comes from for studying, and the other things an adult needs to do every day. My brain feels like it’s going to explode. I feel like I’m going to vomit. Eh, I likely will. The vomiting thing, not the head exploding thing. I have stomach ulcers. There’s a shocker.

I seem to have lost the sparkle that was me. I go about every day and survive and get through it, but I lost the zest, the (ironically) joie de vivre. I gain more attachment to the planet, less times where my mind throws up bad crap at home, in public places, other things die down, and I am swimming in a pool of pessimism. I have been severely depressed before, this is no surprise, but the pessimism is astounding.

Things were going relatively well for a while, but then I got the decision back from the administration saying they’re not going to do shit about “the incident”. I knew regardless of the outcome, I would likely spiral at least a lil out of orbit, but I seem to have become consumed with foul, angry thoughts, and very little else. A few weeks of this and my non-trauma friends are still hanging in there. I talked to a few of them today about “the crap” and by crap, I mean how I’ve been feeling and behaving. I’ve tried my darndest to not spill all over the place and make my crap become theirs. But it’s more than hard to go through this alone. Especially since I’m fortunately or unfortunately feeling so much more every freaking day for the past year or two now. I must say, I’m not a fan. Feeling SUCKS!! But, if I want to engage with the rest of the planet who does not live in my inner solar system, I better get used to it. Learning to feel is an atrocious experience. I highly recommend children and anyone younger than me learn to feel your feelings while you can. Before it’s a few decades later and they smash you like a brick. But, really, our minds did what they could to protect us at the time. And being dissociative was just as normal as some kids playing outside, having sleepovers, swinging on swings without a care in the world…

So moral of my story, feelings hurt like hell. They cause me visceral body pain. It hurts to hurt like that.

Although I’m seeing almost every aspect of the world through grey goggles recently, my friends have graciously and without prompting reminded me that, I’m not always like this. And to me, if they can even see that, that’s even more evidence that this too will pass. It just sucks hardcore right now.

My stomach is having a blast at the moment and I’m in a lot of pain elsewhere. I’m gonna go take care of my stomach, and then attempt to eventually eat and take care of myself.

I hope you’re doing well. And if today’s not such a hot day for you either, you’re not alone. And… likely tomorrow, or soon, things will start to look up. Every time I think they won’t, they do. I think it’s just to prove me wrong. 😉

Peace n safety,

Joy

Ferocity In Me

~I am grateful for my ferocity.

I feel as though I am finding a glimmer of my former self (;} remove all ideas about dissociation from that statement). I am a feisty, persistent, tough cookie. I am doing great! I hit a low point a couple of times a week, but I’ve never felt this good. Nor have that many other acquaintances, friends, and people closest to my heart noticed quite like this before. I’m living my life. It’s actually a little odd and uncomfortable. But, hey, I’ll take it. This is the first time I’ve ever been remotely interested in my studies. I can take care of my adult responsibilities. I can make it through the day without falling apart. I would do a cartwheel and little dance, but I must admit that I fear nothing gold can stay…

I also believe I have to step up in a major way if I want any repercussions for the assailant who assaulted me during the first week of school. I certainly live with repercussions each and every day. If you make such an egregious error in boundaries, violating a person’s rights, etc.–you should experience consequences. I will not stop until that happens. I don’t care what other people think of me, or what occurs as a result. It can “always get worse”, but I’m presently the pariah at my med school to some, the situation has interfered with my academics, personal life, relationships, healing process.. I could go on and on. Some people have awful things to say to me (go on brush ya shoulders off), about me, behind my back, some people don’t know what to make of it, and one person told me it happened to her in college and she didn’t have the courage to report it then and is amazed that I’m still standing and grateful to know me. I’m good with all of that. And the fact that one woman told me she feels empowered by me standing up for myself is extremely moving. Everyone seems to have an opinion, everyone supposedly knows—and I don’t care. No matter how uncomfortable it is for me and my squeaky lil mouse self I will continue to stand up and keep elucidating it is NOT OK and I won’t let anyone sweep this under the carpet.

Continuing on what I am thankful for…

~I am grateful for my incredible friends.

~I am grateful that my roommates and I were able to come to a relative agreement and expect that our communication will make living together even better.

~I am grateful for all the therapy that I have underwent, and all the work I did on my own, because my roommate who is getting her Ph.D. in social work told me the other night that she felt like our conversation included an MFT (marriage and family therapist–me lol). She is very logical and not particularly warm and fuzzy–but she told me I was effective, well-spoken, practical, solution-focused, & amusing (considering her profession and mine) and that I’m going to make an amazing doctor.

~I am grateful for the hours/days/weeks where I feel well.

~I am grateful that the times that I feel crappy are continually and slowly decreasing.

~I am grateful for the other survivors I know both “in real life” and those whom I have connected with on here and other venues.

~I am grateful for sleep.

~I am grateful that even though I’ve been dealing with some physical health crap that I’m still ambulatory and keep it moving.

~I am grateful for my own personal healthcare needs being mostly met.

~I am grateful for the current time, which is the longest I have gone sans an ip stay in two and a half years.

~I am grateful that tomorrow is a trauma anniversary and I’m feeling relatively strong.

~I am grateful that I FEEL OK.

Hope you all are well and are on your path to healing, no matter how bumpy, winding, and/or smooth that road may be. ❤

Love and peace,

Joy

Gratitude Attitude

I’ve had a piss poor attitude lately. And it’s still lingering and may strike again… but at the same time, through all the murky, painful things I feel–I can feel and recognize the many blessings I have in my life. If I listed all the blessings and things I’m grateful for, perhaps I’d climb out of the smog…. but I’d also be here developing carpal tunnel syndrome (which I must say I know entirely too much about, thank you professor…) and I’d never accomplish any of the adult responsibilities I have to take care of and never get to school, nevermind think of opening a book. (Hmm… but living in peace and gratitude sound mighty appealing at the moment)

First of all:

I am grateful that I can open a book. Yes, I’m grateful I have all my fingers and they work properly, but I mean I can open and I can read. Not only am I literate–but I am slowly but surely better able to concentrate on my textbooks and course material a little more with every passing day. Reading a post-it was hard not all that long ago, and I am grateful to be attached enough to what I’m doing that I can read and slowly take things in.

I am also grateful for the slow lift of my depression. I’m still depressed. I studied and sulked today. But I don’t hurt so badly that I’m on the brink of harming myself. In fact, I haven’t even thought of it today. Nor has it come up frequently in weeks. I’ve had a lot of crap go on, but I’ve been given strength, willpower, and courage to get through it. Even when I feel like a mouse, I am actually making a lion’s roar by standing up for myself, not quitting (holding him accountable, school, or life), and not falling back into the pit.

I am also grateful for the friends I’ve had for years, and the new ones I’ve made since school started. A few of them, I truly believe are true. Or… they likely wouldn’t tolerate me. 😉 You know who your friends are when it’s 4am and they’re dealing with you being a hot mess after you went to socialize with your classmates at a post-exam party and *he* was there and you drank your feelings away. (<—admittedly, one of my less bright decisions, however, they were there–and they stayed)

I am grateful for learning how to sip thanks to a friend from school. I’m still working on this process, but evidently I chug everything from water, to milk, to juice, to beer. I can now sip a martini. I’ve never been one of those people who gets wasted at clubs, etc. but I have definitely been engaging in binge drinking at several social events where my classmates were partying.

I know that drinking til I only feel sparkly silly happiness is not a healthy way to cope with school, the assault, seeing him everyday. And for that wisdom, I am grateful.

I am grateful that I have enough money to pay the rent in the coming week. I know so many people are struggling with their housing–and if I could, I would be running a free hotel at the castle (what my friends call my apt. lol) for anyone I knew who was safe and in need of a warm place to stay. It hurts me that my aunt and my mom are struggling to make their mortgages, but I am also grateful that even if it’s tough and a scramble, they can make it. I learned everything I know about getting by with whatever you’ve got, and being a tough cookie from them.

Baby… it’s cold outside. And I am grateful that I have great roommates, a lovely place, and more importantly than it being pretty… I have a place to rest my head every night. That hasn’t always been the case during my recovery. But, my pillow is in a bed, in my room… and I am ever so grateful for that.

Don’t Want Your Hand This Time

“…I’ll save myself…”

If there is one thing I should have listened to that my father said when I was younger, it would have been, “You can’t trust anyone but yourself.” If my entire life hasn’t taught me that by now, I don’t know what will. Perhaps the last year has finally drilled that concept into my head?

People are supposed to earn trust. I’m supposed to discern whether or not people deserve to be trusted based on their actions over time. But, over time? How much time? Six months, six years? What about the people who were your family of choice? What about when they can no longer be trusted after 3 years, 5 years, 10 years? Nothing in this world is constant. The only things in the world that are constant are human suffering, and the insidious nature of human beings. That’s something you really wanna curl up with at night, isn’t it?

The people you think you know the best are in actuality a mirage. All of my human relationships are a charade. The friends you think will likely be your bridesmaids disappear. The person you thought you would marry is a monster you never saw in her worst moments of the 5 years you were together.

**Trigger Warning**

Classmates involve themselves in what happened as the school year started. And when I say, involved, I mean INVOLVED. What future physician goes before an administrative disciplinary hearing for someone who allegedly violated another classmate, and testifies against her? Particularly, who does that when they have spent less than an hour in the last six months with me? To vilify his behavior. Is that because it is too atrocious to believe the allegations are true? Would you like to see the description in my rape kit? How about the photographic evidence of the assault? My torn clothes?

I don’t need anything from any of you. Classmates, family, so-called friends. You will all rip the ground out from underneath me when I least expect it. I am no saint. I’m melodramatic, sometimes emotionally disregulated, always late, sometimes a lot of things. But, there are a few things that are consistently me, no matter how sick or well I am: I am loyal, I am loving, understanding, and supportive. I can be at my worst, and have been at my worst and have been able to shelf my insanity to be there for people I love, and for people I don’t particularly like, but who deserve love–just like everyone else. It’s not a question as to whether or not it is too much to ask that people are remotely considerate, loyal, loving, consistent, etc. There is no question. The people I’ve met in this world have repeatedly shown me over and over that no matter how sick or well I am, no matter how bad or well-behaved I am, no matter how malicious or kind I am–you will screw me, it’s just a matter of when.

I actually prefer the hurt from people like my classmate than from people I loved and trusted, whom I thought had earned it. At least then, I had no expectations of someone I just met to behave like half a human being. It is only a matter of time before the friends I’ve made who by anyone else’s standards have proven themselves beyond measure that they are true… will disappear, or stab me in the back. At least look me in the eye and stab me in the front.

It’s been a hard days… month, or two

**Trigger Warning: Re: Sexual assault and s/h**

These last 6+ weeks have been kinda hellish. Med school in itself is fairly hellish. Being raped by a fellow student, pretty awful. The legal process which offered NO justice, at LEAST as violating as the act itself. But, I’m still here. (Which reminds me of one of my favorite poems, which I’ll post a little further down)

I can’t concentrate on much of anything, nevermind schoolwork. I haven’t managed to fail out yet, and I’m not sure how. I guess I’m catching enough to keep my head above the water. But the anger at what happened, my disappointment and anger in myself for my inability to magically get it together, use my skills (most of which I feel I’ve forgotten even though they were even more routine than breathing up until it happened)… is really affecting me. I have not self-harmed in 8 months and 9 days. Yes, so if anyone was still wondering, I am still self-harm free. I don’t know how. It has taken almost every ounce of my strength on some days to not self-abuse. It sadly comes so naturally. It’s an old pattern that I brought into adulthood, because I didn’t know how else to cope with pain other than to assault myself. Logically I know this is not the way one should be treated. However, I have been really triggered lately and feel quite often that I need to be “punished”. And I don’t, I just feel and think that I do. Unfortunately there is no fairy dust that I can sprinkle on myself to get me immediately back to where I was emotionally a few months ago. Luckily, there is similarly no fairy dust to get me back to where I was a few months before then and the many moons before then… because those were a scary time. Things are still frightening, but I have made a lot of progress. Considering what happened, I know that “on paper”, I’m doing very well. But my heart aches from the many feelings I have about the incident, nevermind how I feel it’s impacting my life. Things do get better every day, but they are still really rough. I can only logically acknowledge the progress I’ve made–I don’t feel it yet. I just want to feel it SO desperately.

My self-harm urges are more vibrant and intrusive than they’ve been in months. I think the stronger I fight not to, even though a huge part of me wants to feel that brief instant of relief… the stronger the thoughts and images are in my head.

I have made plenty of friends at school. And I have several really wonderful friends. But, I just don’t feel it. All I feel is loss. I’ve lost a lot of people in my life who I miss tremendously right now. The guy I was interested in is too sick (read: depressed and not making enough effort and strides to work with it and get better) for me to be in a relationship with, even a casual one, or friendship. His consistent inconsistency is entirely too painful. I do care for him, more than I ever wanted to, and you can’t help who you love and care about. I can, however, monitor my behavior and interaction with him though. We haven’t spoken in about two weeks. As deeply as it hurts, I think this was a very smart and healthy move on my part. I didn’t want to be further emotionally damaged by the people I allowed in my life, including him. It’s not his fault, I am an adult and I allow toxic people into my life. I’ve let quite a few people go in the past month and it hurts. I miss them, even the toxic parts of them. Perhaps MORE SO their toxic aspects. So while it hurts so badly that I can hardly breathe at the moment, in time, this will pass. Just like every flashback, the pain will stop and it hasn’t killed me yet.

I think some of my current pain comes from the strides I’ve made and the disappointment I feel as I am drowning in a riptide of depression. Depression at this point is totally understandable. But, I just really resent feeling so pained. I just want to live. I want to study and concentrate. I want to cook for myself and take care of my basic needs. As always I put on a really great “show” but I’m not ok. I have to be at peace with not being ok right now. And I’m not. I think it’s this resistance that is causing me so much anguish. I have so many feelings and thoughts to challenge, I feel really overwhelmed.

I don’t really know how pray tell to get my game face on and piece myself back together. I don’t think I’m supposed to. I think I’m supposed to take it day by day, and moment by moment… but that is not exactly my forte.

And the poem I promised:

Still Here by Langston Hughes

“I been scared and battered.
My hopes the wind done scattered.
Snow has friz me,
Sun has baked me,

Looks like between ’em they done
Tried to make me

Stop laughin’, stop lovin’, stop livin’–
But I don’t care!
I’m still here!”

Love, Joy

****TRIGGER WARNING****

I am getting pretty close to snapping. As though the stress of being raped on the third day back at med school, starting school, moving, still unpacking, studying and feeling like there are 2 million fireflies fluttering around my head distracting me at all times, having to see his nonplussed asshole self every day because all med students have the SAME classes together at the SAME time, and the fantastic re-traumatizing process of the legal system ALL weren’t enough, I think he gave me an STD. When I was last checked, I was STD-free. I have the pleasure of finding out the culture and blood work results early next week. He has “no idea” if he used the condom that was on the floor. I took Plan B during the rape kit, along with other prophylactic antibiotics for bacterial STDs. But, I was told that there were no prophylactics available for viral STDs.

I have been having a really hard time to begin with. I am dealing with school as best as I can. I’m doing better grade-wise with every passing week. But, I’ve got a long way to go before I’m satisfied. However, I couldn’t stand pretending like nothing happened and like he didn’t violate me. I knew I had to report it either internally to my school or to the authorities. I decided on the authorities after I heard from someone else from school that (even though I was extremely vague w details) that he had “heard my story of what happened before” and that he “knew who it was based on his behaviors”. I questioned him and didn’t give any information away. I asked like 5 demographic questions to which I got all the right answers. I stood up and screamed in the room we were in. I asked my friend how he knew… and he said it was because he had heard my story before from someone else who knew my rapist before med school started.

I finally crawled into the police station and made my report. I tried to escape the prosecutor’s office and statement, but the female officer had her own agenda because she had been raped at 12. I managed to escape having to do the interview and taped statement with the prosecutor’s office that day because no one was available. I went back after I heard that he had potentially done this to someone else already. I had a feeling, but I’m not omniscient. He doesn’t even think he did anything wrong. That’s a whole ‘nother story, though. I can’t even go there right now.

I have had the pleasure of walking into class to find the staff of the prosecutor’s office at my school because they couldn’t track my rapist down at home. I hid from him for 2 days after I knew he was interviewed. I am the victim, I was violated, and yet I was cowering. It is MY school. I shouldn’t have to hide. He should be ashamed, scared, and intimidated by me. He raped me, and I am fighting back. I may not get far legally, but I am speaking the truth, which is empowering (and horrific, and humiliating, as well–but I am proud of myself regardless of the outcome).

And now I have the pleasure of waiting a few days to find out my STD status. I went to the doctor yesterday. I didn’t investigate anything on my own prior because I didn’t want to obsess about it, especially while I’m trying to stay tethered from the planet and not totally tossing in the towel over school. However, I spent time last night and this evening investigating what I think I have. I have very classic symptoms of a primary infection in females. It has gotten progressively worse since yesterday. The only thing I can do is make a paltry attempt at being mindful and not letting my worries and the potential diagnosis consume me. Emphasis on paltry. Every time I think I’ve calmed down I start crying again. I just want to be able to dissociate on command again. People have stuff to say, but it’s mostly crying, and “we’re damaged forever”, etc. However, who I want to take over won’t. I can’t be on the phone with my friends, my mom, a rape counselor 24/7. I have nothing more to say.

~Joy

The beginning of the aftermath

**TRIGGER WARNING: This post is about a recent assault. It may trigger you and I hope you will engage in enough self-care to discern whether or not reading about this may cause you difficulties.**

I really wanted to write a post about Rape Trauma Syndrome. And earlier today and yesterday I had the emotional fortitude to do it, but at this moment, I don’t. So at a later point in time, hopefully I will be able to write about that.

I will admit, I’m in disbelief of what happened. I won’t go into any details because I would like to keep this as non-triggering as possible for anyone who decides to read this. But, I’m having a really hard time today. I got out of the house and went swimming, then went for ice cream w a friend and hung out at my house for a bit. The guy I like is coming home from vacation a little early just to hold me. Or so he says, but … I’m sorry, I expect nothing from anyone and don’t believe what people say, I believe what people do. (Note: He and my closest friends have been amazingly supportive… I’m just in a total funk right now) And now I’m alone again. I feel so unsafe when I’m alone.

I have so many supports; friends, family, professional, here. I think I’m doing as well as one can. I’m engaging in a lot of self-care, feeling my feelings, doing reality checks and thought stopping when necessary, keeping my routine and living my life, and reaching out… and I’m still here sobbing right now. And earlier today I felt so unsafe. I even felt unsafe for almost the entire time I was at the pool. I felt scared of everyone, even the (usually to me, adorable) little kids bumping into me.

I have so much to do. I have to prep for classes on Monday. I have to handle housing and tomorrow go sign a lease. I have to pack. I’m a former horder (I believe because many things were taken from me, tangible and intangible), most recently just totally overwhelmed by the amount of crap no matter how much I throw out, sell, and donate, donate, donate. I presently feel like purging my house of everything other than my furniture and clothing. I want to get rid of a lot of my clothing too, which is totally unusual for me. I know I need to get rid of things so I can move and be in a mindful, serene place emotionally, I just can’t believe that I was assaulted and now I want to throw out EVERYTHING.

I’m really trying to use distraction. I feel a lot of fear. I can’t isolate about specifics, but I am especially afraid when I’m alone. And the fear hurts my chest. Just like it has in the past… And now I’m listening to music and in a few I’ll get back to tossing things in the trash and setting aside worthy things to donate. I want it all gone. I want to start my return to school with strength and determination. But mostly, I just want a SAFE hug.

Wishing you serenity and that incredible feeling, safety,

Joy

I Don’t Know Where to Begin

**TRIGGER WARNING: What I say later may be difficult for you to read. If you are not in a safe place, or may be triggered by something that I’m going to describe–PLEASE take good care of yourself and DO NOT read this.**

First of all, I suppose you can gather that I still am, in fact, alive. Things have been INSANE lately, and not in a clinical sense. I have returned to medical school, am in the process of relocating, and a bazillion other things. I am ardently looking forward to settling into my new home, and in with classes, so that I can get my routine going again. I have been able to talk to my friends and see them, but not as much as I would like and is typical of us. I have a lot LOT lot of things I’d like to write about, and I’ll get to them eventually. But, I have something I would like to share.

********************This is where the possible TRIGGER begins********************

Over the past day I have learned to say the four-letter word of what happened to me a few days ago. On the third day after my return to medical school, I was raped by a fellow classmate. I have been taking extremely good care of myself and honestly, cannot believe how well I am handling what happened. I got the appropriate medical care and counseling/advocacy that I need to start the healing process the day after. I will be ok. I took a day off from school (orientation) and missed my White Coat Ceremony because I told one of the Deans in Student Affairs that I was purposely being vague; and that something bad happened the night before, and that I need to get appropriate medical care and counseling so that I am ok to start classes on Monday.

I have been doing what I think is best for me to heal. I have read information, spoken to my friends and other supports, and continued LIVING. I will not isolate and/or spontaneously combust because something bad that was not my fault and absolutely out of my control happened. I have been processing my feelings, and letting them happen so that hopefully I will have less repercussions later. I expect this will slightly disrupt my life, but I refuse to let it derail me. I have survived too much and worked way too hard academically and even more so, therapeutically to get through and reclaim my life. I won’t let someone else’s actions get in the way of that. This is what I have control over.

I have genuinely missed my online community between here and twitter. I hope you are all doing well, and I have thought about you very much despite the fact that I’ve been MIA. Wishing you peace, safety, and serenity. Namaste.

~Joy

Today is Self Injury Awareness Day. Therefore, I’m using today as an impetus to share with you my own experience with self-injury (aka self-harm=s/h). Please do not read this if it will trigger you. Also, I want to make it explicitly clear that I do not condone self-harm as a coping skill, however do not judge myself or others for resorting to it when we feel as though nothing else will assuage our pain (or whatever other things trigger an urge to self-harm).

My first incident of s/h was when I was 7. I had no idea why I was doing what I was doing. All I recall is that I explained (and lied) to my step-mother and told her I was trying to shave just like she did. Needless to say, when it did come time to shave in my early adolescence I was not permitted to do so. I have no idea why. Especially since I was apparently very convincing when I told her it wasn’t on purpose.

I then began sneaking hard liquor (and refilling what I had consumed in the most brilliant way an elementary-aged child could) from the liquor cabinet until my parents gave up drinking quite as much. Then, since their liquor required less space, they relocated it to a cabinet that was well out of my reach (then and almost now).

As I look back on these experiences I can recognize that they were ways for me to drown out something, what? At the time I had NO idea.

I achieved my first degree black belt when I was 16. I used these skills to s/h in a way that I was pretty sure no one would know about and no one would question. I continued this from middle school through college. I was in an incredible amount of emotional pain; that I couldn’t get rid of. All I knew is that my parents didn’t love me and it made me feel like my heart was slowly dying. Nothing I did won their approval. No amount of good deeds at home, the meticulous attention to my chores (which included EVERYTHING while my brother, of course, had none), my excellent grades, my involvement in the community in various ways… nothing. So my Catholic school girl self abused herself in the only way I knew how without getting caught. I had such enormous pain, and severely repressed anger, hostility, shame; I could go all day with what I had stuffed in my “little box”. I was a breakdown waiting to happen. I believed I had to be perfect in every aspect of my life, stuff all the pain away, and put on my (apparently slightly scary) fake-smile.

The year before I started medical school I had an extremely abusive relationship with my first girlfriend. I had previously been treated like gold by my boyfriend of 5 years. We had some major PTSD-related issues in our relationship now that I can look at it in hindsight, but he was the least abusive partner I’ve dated.

I slowly descended into madness during and after this relationship. I ended it, I simply couldn’t take the tumultuousness of our relationship anymore–I knew I was about to snap. And I did. But, I apparently was still able to put on a fascade that I was “just fine”. I did well in medical school while the symptoms of complex-PTSD continued to ravage my life. I was finally diagnosed with C-PTSD in medical school after a litany of misdiagnoses. I continued in the s/h behaviors I had long used, and introduced more. These new ones I was terrified by, these new ones had to be so minor that no one could see them or “everyone would know”. Que dira de la gente… what will people say? That was my only concern and the only reason why I kept my s/h superficial.

I took three weeks after the summer of my first year to seek out trauma-specific treatment. Every summer since I was a sophomore in college I had spent doing research to bolster my resume. I took a little bit of time from this for my treatment. I figured three weeks was plenty of time to figure out what the hell was really wrong and how to quickly fix it. I was adept at most everything else I did, therefore I approached intensive trauma tx with the same tenacity.

Apparently, my PTSD didn’t give a crap about my timeframe. Beginning trauma tx was like ripping off a bandaid on my fullbodied wound. My flashbacks got worse, my s/h urges became totally unmanageable. I tried using some of the skills I had learned and they were ineffective. I resorted to the only thing I knew would help alleviate some of my pain.

I used to (and still do) restrict access to certain rooms in my apartment in order to avoid s/h and to see if I could tolerate the pain until it ended. Sometimes, some days I was successful. Others I was not. Going to the ER with a self-inflicted wound got me nowhere. I did a good enough job tending to my wound that it was not necessary for the ER to intervene medically. And since I was no longer suicidal, my psychiatrist who happened to be on call that night, told me to “step up the individual tx and step up the DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy)”; and I was sent home. That was the first time I had actually scared myself by what I had done to my body.

After almost two years of therapy programs, I have come to realize that I no longer need to physically abuse myself. However, that did not stop my s/h. I would do it in the same place so that no one would question it should they see. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t rock my skills which I knew and practiced like it was my job. As I explained to my mother yesterday, the pain of my flashbacks or other PTSD-related pain is about a million times worse than any physical pain I’ve ever had. The other day she saw me, and I was barely able to walk because of undiagnosed rheumatological problems (I have been to the doctor several times to try to pin down why one day I can run a mile and others I have to army crawl to the bathroom).

I have used s/h when I saw no other options to reduce my pain/suicidality, or when after going through the most effective coping skills (for me), several times, I was still in intolerable pain. I am in no way glorifying my s/h behaviors, but as I said before, nor do I judge them. It was all I had at times when I was emotionally grasping at straws and knew that I didn’t want to permanently terminate my existence (even if it hurt so bad that I obsessed about it). Everyone who s/h’s does it for their own personal reason. This was mine.

I have not purposely taken any action against my body in 50 days as of today. It has not been easy or pretty as I have said several times elsewhere today. Am I proud? Yes. Has it been hell not resorting to self-abusive behaviors? Absolutely. I will gladly share some of my favorite coping skills in the next few days. But for today, I wanted to share a part of my journey to recovering from child abuse. And I also want a keychain, coin, or gold star to recognize my efforts to end my addiction to s/h. 😉 I cannot for certain say I will be able to continue to abstain from s/h as I continue in my recovery. But, I never thought I’d be able to abstain for a significant amount of time any time in the near future, and the 50 day mark is a pretty damned promising start.

Wishing you peace and safety this evening,

Joy