A culture that diminishes sexual violence is indelibly linked to my experience. I still have days when I find myself thinking, at least it was only once. While I am thankful I was only raped one time, the truth is it’s never only once. I’ve been haunted by the memories of that moment my entire life. The effects of abuse ripple out to impact relationships, decisions, habits, and my sense of self every single day.
Mental illness is no respecter of persons. Anxiety and depression are equal opportunity employers and they do not care what kind of day or week or year you’re having. And along with mental illness comes shame. Shame whispers things like “You can’t get your own shit together, so stop writing.” It tells lies like, “You are crazy and this will never get better.”
It’s 1:34 am and I’m awake with allergies. This is nothing new – I’ve had the itchy eyes, scratchy throat, and stuffy nose for two weeks. I grab a glass of cold water and open the cabinet. Benadryl is good because it will help me get back to sleep, as well as deal with my symptoms. I slide my thumb under the arrow on the cap and pop open the little white bottle. As I tip the bottle over into my left palm, pink and white capsules spill into my hand.
Then it happens.