TW: Abuse, Eating Disorder, Suicidal Thoughts
I am 18 years old, but I feel as though I am just finally figuring out my place in this world and my identity. All my life I have lived with social and generalized anxiety disorders, as well as depression. It was not until I reached high school when I had my first panic attack and was later diagnosed with panic disorder. However, it also was not until high school that so many weird circumstances and situations about my household started becoming painfully obvious, like a knife in the side of my stomach.
I always knew something about the constant fights, the yelling, the scapegoating was wrong, but it wasn’t until I learned about what trauma was that I knew I had been living through emotional and mental abuse my entire life. I was robbed of a normal childhood, the chance to grow and become my own person because I lived surrounded by this darkness of fear. I still have reoccurring nightmares and hallucinations in my worst panic attacks of moments that I tried so hard to block out of memory. Over my high school years, it has continued to break me down, time and time again, making me a shell of a person. I went through periods of intense sadness where I questioned whether life was even worth living, but then I would suddenly get filled with anger because my innocence was ripped away from me at such a young age.
I have always felt so out of control with my situation because whenever I tried to stand up for myself—whenever I gained an ounce of courage to face my monsters—I would be dismissed. I developed an eating disorder. I starved myself, deprived myself of proper nourishment because the only control I could have was over my appearance. Of course, living with someone who viewed women simultaneously as powerful and sexual objects completely shattered the image I had of myself. I am in the process of recovery, but I still struggle with hating my body along with the societal pressures of whether I am pretty enough.
Despite everything I have been through and the number of times I have wanted to commit suicide, I still manage to maintain some sense of hope. I know there will be a beautiful, bright rainbow after the storm. Also, despite the pain I have been through, I still love my family. I still love my abuser because simply put, how could I not when they are my family? I will never forgive and unfortunately never forget the horrors I witnessed countless times, but I do believe that I truly would not be the person I am today if I had not gone through these struggles. Yes, I am sad and highly nervous more than the usual person—in fact, I am almost always questioning everything I do at every point of every day—but I would not be anywhere close to the empathetic and understanding person I am.
I could have ended my life and missed out on the many opportunities, the chance to pursue a career in psychology to help other children going through the same things as me, and I would not have been able to leave my legacy in this world. For that, I keep fighting every single day to heal from trauma. The road is long, and I am only just at the beginning of this road trip but starting here by sharing my story gives me hope of overcoming my anxiety and years of abuse. Sharing my story gives me hope that there is good in this world despite everything I have experienced. Thank you for taking the time to read my story, and to anybody else struggling, I hope this helps you see the rainbow at the end of the storm as well.
A young woman hoping to pursue a career as a therapist and help destigmatize abuse survivors and living with mental illness, as well as being a support system to anyone in need.