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Repressed and Remembered: Sexual Assault

My severe depression began to lift in August and it has been an interesting 9 months, to say the least. I did not simply start to feel better and life was great. I had to first cope with feeling better and being cautious about that experience. Then I had to mourn the loss of my therapist whom I had seen for the better part of 24 years as she was too afraid for me to become ill again and drive to Boston to see her (2 hours each way). While I understood this and it made sense to see someone locally, there were a lot of years of work there as well as a close relationship. It only came within weeks of beginning to feel better and while I transitioned to a new therapist over time, we last saw each other in November. There were several months of working through that loss which included disappointment and pain with my new therapist. Still, I lived my life. I enjoyed time with Ken and Iliana, enjoyed being at work and the little things that happen each day that we sometimes take for granted.
And then it happened. I had worked with children and adolescents with PTSD and it was difficult to hear their stories. I always wanted to swoop in and take it all away. I now have an idea of what it was like for them to experience those trauma-related symptoms. I dated a guy for about 2 months when I was 30 years old and always described a “bad experience” occurring with him but never thought about/wasn’t aware of the details.

Two months ago, I remembered what happened. The first few weeks after telling my therapist and Ken were terrible. I had flashbacks (transported back to it without being aware of the present), I dissociated (checked out), I was constantly on edge – checking behind me when walking through the mall before and after work and my senses were on high alert ready for something “bad” to happen. I could not sleep, was extremely irritable and my anxiety was in a constant state of “high.” I do not need to get into the details of exactly what happened to me, but I can say that I was sexually assaulted. The legal term is rape. This bastard forced himself on me and remembering this has changed me.
Many in the psychiatric world say that when an assault is repressed in our memory and we later remember it, it is due to having the mental ability to deal with it. I agree with that. I would never have been able to cope with this a year ago given my severe depressive state. At the same time, I do wish I never remembered it as it is so painful.
My therapist and I are working hard on the aftermath (PTSD) which can be typical: self-blame, thinking pejorative descriptions of myself, shame, having trouble catching my breath, difficulty concentrating, the level of hate and anger I feel toward this bastard that cannot be put into words. While I rarely have flashbacks at this point, the irritability is there but is better controlled, especially since my psychiatrist increased one of my medications. My sleep still requires more medication. I have told some friends and my siblings. I knew from the beginning I would need their support. I am very lucky that Ken is right by my side, as always, and is willing to listen and is reading a book my therapist gave me that explains the trauma reaction.
When I first remembered, I thought to myself, “woe’s me” as I could not believe there would or could be more negative experiences. After some time though I have begun to accept it as there is no other choice. As with my depression, I am dealing with it in the best way I can. Some days are better than others but I am trying. It is taking a lot of my energy and some days I keep fighting and others I feel defeated. This is all I can do right now. It is hard but it is my life and it is the only one I have so I must continue the best I can.

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