Trigger warning: this piece discusses themes of anxiety, depression, panic disorder, sexual assault, suicide ideation and trauma.
I am almost 60 years old now and I'm finally discovering my self worth for the first time. I was repeatedly sexually abused during my teenage years, and then, on my 18th birthday, I was raped. For 40 years, I hid those events way down deep inside me and never told another living soul about them. I believed that, somehow, it was all my fault.
My relationships have always been dysfunctional, I was always the needy, weak woman who chose to be with people of the same ilk because I believed that was all I was worthy of. I've suffered from anxiety, panic disorder and depression all my adult life. I have dealt with suicidal ideation many times in the past, but I didn't want to leave my family with that burden.
Finally, I got sick of frequent trips to the ED with what felt like a heart attack but always turned out to be anxiety-related, so, I sought help. I didn't go because of what had happened in the past, but sitting there in only my second therapy session, out it all came in a rush. It was literally like a volcano eruption from deep inside me that I couldn't have stopped even if I'd tried. Letting all the pain spew out of me left me feeling shocked and raw.
It's taken time but I now know that all these years of suffering have left a multitude of invisible scars that are reopening during my therapy sessions. At times it's painful but, at other times, it's enlightening and joyful as I realise that what happened to me all those years ago was not my fault, that I don't need to carry the pain around with me any longer.
My journey hasn’t been easy, but I have faith now that all this unburdening of myself will ultimately lead me to a better life. I liken it to being in a small sailboat and now, having decided to leave my familiar baggage sitting on the dock behind me, I'm setting sail towards a golden horizon. I don't know what's out there exactly, I just know that it is going to be better than where I've been. How wonderful it is to finally have hope! If there is anything that I want other people to know it's that it's NEVER too late to begin your journey to mental wellbeing.
Voices of Hope wants you to know that you do not have to do this alone. Click here to ‘find help’ - it’s not weak to speak!