Since I started blogging about anxiety and being raped, quite a few people have reached out to me for advice or support, or to give advice and support.
That’s pretty sweet, but also troubling.
Some folks said what was going on with them wasn’t something they were able to speak about with family or friends. Some people didn’t even understand what their deal was until they listened to me talking about my issues.
I didn’t identify anxiety as something I was struggling with until late 2014 when I dated someone who had pretty awful anxiety. Listening to him talk about his problems, I understood that I was going through similar stuff and anxiety was what had been fucking me up for years. It wasn’t until I was quite deep into exploring my mental health that I got how being sexually assaulted continued to affect me outside of my sex life, specifically by being a cause of anxiety.
I’m an educated woman with a good family. I have supportive friends who come to me to talk about their problems and who are always open to listening to me vent about mine. I know the important people in my life love me no matter what I do or how much I screw up. So, how did it take me years to realize that constant full body tingling, difficulty breathing, poor memory and constantly being scatter-brained isn’t normal? And how come others are in a similar place?
I was taught by my family, teachers and media that hard work comes first. It comes before feelings and taking care of ones-self. This sentiment was cemented when I moved out of my parents’ home at 18. Bills and rent needed to be paid with enough leftover cash for food. I covered my university and college tuition without loans and was damned if I was going to slash my GPA with shitty grades because I was taking time to relax. Taking care of others was work that someone had to do, and I took that upon myself. That came before taking time for me.
As a young woman, I was in school and working full-time. I had an unemployed boyfriend at home smoking pot and playing video games all damn day. Being strong was ignoring my feelings to take care of him and our cats. Being strong was pushing through the shit and pretending everything was fine. I thought strong women took care of themselves and everyone around them without cracking under the weight of work and school and care-taking and past hurt.
What a crock of shit.
I wish I could go back and tell myself that a strong woman woulda kicked that SOB out sooner. A strong woman knows when to say no and take care of her needs first. A strong woman faces her feelings in a terrifying and raw way, not pretending to herself or anyone else that the hurt is any less than it is.
If we all put our grown-up dresses on and screamed with honesty about how messed up we are, we’d grow up knowing it’s okay to be less than fine. Sometimes people’s heads are a little fucky, and that’s totally okay. Sometimes it takes forever to feel your way though shitty emotions, and sometimes you never do. That doesn’t make you any less of an awesome, loveable and inspirational person.
I wish adults had had honest conversations with me growing up about anxiety and depression, about the importance of prioritizing my own needs and facing life with honesty and vulnerability, especially to myself. And I wish someone would start having those conversations with the young folk of today. Realizing at 24 how fucked up you are is a lot more troubling than just dealing with issues as they arise throughout life.
I’m going to keep talking about being anxious and being messed up from being raped, because it makes me feel better and it seems to make other people feel better. Also, it’s getting me some pretty awesome advice, like this:
I have no real experience with counselling, but other folks apparently do and suggested these affordable places in Winnipeg for anxiety and/or victims of sexual assault:
Women’s Health Clinic
Jewish Child and Family Service
Aurora Family Therapy Centre
Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
This type of therapy helped a friend of mine! That’s cool. Maybe look into it? She tells me that Klinic has two counsellors trained to do EMDR.
Gorgeous artwork with this post, eh? I didn’t do it! It’s by Lucia Whittaker! Check her out.
And I’m back with another podcast. This week, I’m talking about how much better talking about this all makes me feel and announcing a change to the podcast’s format for future episodes. Woot woot!