By Anonymous (Contributor) – Email
Print Edition: March 11, 2015
I used to believe that anxiety and depression was a mindset that a person could choose to change with good lifestyle and eating habits — until I was sexually assaulted. After that everything changed.
First to shift was my identity. I had always viewed myself as strong and capable, in control of my life. But after the incident I grew angry and negative. I became judgemental of everything and everyone around me, faulting them for even the smallest weakness and believing that I was the only person in the world that understood anything that was worth understanding.
In my anger, I pushed people away. Burned bridges. I isolated myself, closed myself off from my friends and family, and once I’d retreated completely I felt a shadow moving into my life. Something I couldn’t shake, no matter what.
I lived this way for years, with this shadow following along behind me. I was acutely aware of it and how it made me feel when I was having a “down day.” There were full days when I would crawl out of bed, skip all of my classes, and lie on my living room floor, because I couldn’t bring myself to physically do anything. My creativity and motivation diminished in these moments.
[pullquote]I was running from something that was ultimately in my head.[/pullquote]
The anxiety came later when I entered into a relationship. I obsessed over having sex for the first few months, and then obsessed over avoiding it for the last few. There were days when I didn’t want to be touched, held, or kissed. If he tried to touch me I would imagine his hands going between my legs, and I grew uncomfortable — almost squeamish.
I would spend time thinking about what positions I could sit in when I was next to him so that it would make it difficult for him to touch me. Eventually, he repulsed me; everything he did or said, how he smelled, his tics and physical cues. The relationship ended after one explosive moment and a slammed door.
Out of everything, the anger was the worst. I didn’t like the feeling of irritation I felt towards everyone, I learned that anger got results and reactions from people, but at the expense of their respect for me. As a result, I was further isolating myself, and I started to feel that everyone would be better off if I just left. Disappeared.
I considered applying for a traveller’s visa, packing a bag, and moving to work in another country. Somewhere in Europe. Escape my responsibilities here. I wouldn’t tell anyone, I would just leave quietly. If I left, it would be less horrific than a rope or a slashed wrist. There wouldn’t be closure, but at least I’d leave them with a sliver of hope.
[pullquote]There were full days when I would crawl out of bed, skip all of my classes, and lie on my living room floor.[/pullquote]
But what if that didn’t fix anything? I knew it wouldn’t. I was running from something that was ultimately in my head. The problem was me.
The worst about feeling the urge to kill myself was the helplessness. There were invisible walls closing in on me wherever I turned, and the ceiling was pushing down. I felt small, insignificant, and I felt if someone were to touch me I’d shatter.
I remember sitting on the couch in my living room feeling very overwhelmed with school, work, and relationships. There was a tug on my sleeve. I wanted — no, I needed — to get up and do something, anything, but I couldn’t move. I wanted to kill myself. And in my head I was going through all the ways I might want to die, painlessly but not messily. I was convinced if I died, everyone would be better off, and after a while no one would care.
What kept me from hurting myself were, laugh at it or not, thoughts of my cat. He is the only thing solely dependent on me. This small detail pulled me into a microscopic positive space. It was so tiny, but it mattered so much in that moment. It mattered enough for me to pick up the phone and talk to a close friend, and admit everything to her.
Now I’ve been seeing a counsellor at UFV, and I talk to my friend often to feel enveloped in a support network. The outlet is helping. The shadow is always there, but at least it’s shrunk to a manageable size.