This past week I’ve been doing interviews for KSN, the Haysville Sun-Times, and possibly KAKE News about the #MeToo campaign that Tarana Burke started over 10 years ago and my opinions on how it is impacting the community now. While I have been open about my story and always open to hearing about other survivors stories, it does take a toll on me emotionally and mentally. I also mentioned in one of my past blogs that October has always been a rough month for me ever since 2010. It seems like no matter how much therapy I get, how much I talk to fellow survivors, family, and friends – I still find that October is the most challenging months of all for me even with how far I feel like I’ve come since 2010.
The last several October’s we’ve had are never the same as the previous year. Every October comes with different emotions, obstacles, and memories and that’s on top of working part-time and going to school full-time. I have always said that healing takes time, and for most survivors, it takes years and years. It isn’t something that you can expect to leave you after 2 or 3 years after the assault. That is the beautiful and worst thing the mind can do to you….it can shield you from all those horrible memories for a while whether it be years or months, but it can also reveal all the pain and emotions all at once if and when it decides too. Some survivors can go years and years without experiencing any emotions or memories of the assault while others may experience it right after it happens and then be fine with it. Then you have the majority that goes through the memories and pain, be okay for a couple months or years before it gets slammed right back into your face again. Most of the time this happens due to triggers that may trigger the memories or feelings or a huge amount of stress or depression in your life. For me, it seems like I can go a year or two without being too terribly affected by it. This year due to the interviews back to back, it’s been harder to communicate to others – let alone figure out how I feel myself.
In my instance and other survivors that go through PTSD, I can’t tell when I’m getting depressed half the time because I think I’m fine most of the time. There are days that I feel down and more anxious than others, but I think it’s just the stress of school or when I struggle to smile and my friends don’t realize how I feel on the inside. Most people that suffer from PTSD don’t show that they are depressed in my experience. It takes my friends and family to tell me that they think I may be depressed before I realize that they may be right because it is normal for me to feel anxious and stressed out most of the time. It isn’t until I break down and cry out of frustration from being so stressed and anxious that I start to realize that I may be depressed, and while it does happen less frequently for me now that years have passed – it still happens especially around October.
My point with this whole blog is….whether you know someone who is a survivor of sexual assault or anyone going through PTSD, know that everyone has different signs of going through depression and it happens at different stages in life. If you start to notice that they aren’t as bubbly or smiling or talkative as they usually are around you and your friends, pull them aside and ask them if they are okay. I don’t know about other survivors but, I would appreciate you asking me that especially when you make the effort to notice my demeanor has changed recently. I also would be more likely to talk to you about it as well, if you happened to notice I was acting different because it shows you care and aren’t so caught up in your own little world.
So the next time you know someone that mentioned that they had PTSD because of something traumatic in their life, make the effort to notice when they aren’t themselves, they close themselves off or whatever it may be that is different about them, and pull them aside and let us know you are there for us if we ever want to talk. It may not be comfortable for you, but when it comes down to it – it doesn’t matter if it makes you uncomfortable because if you truly support and care about that person – you make the time to listen and comfort them in their time of need. We would just appreciate the fact that someone took the time to listen to us, and would return the favor to you in the future.
In the Ashes,
The Rising Phoenix