Ashley s Story
“When I was younger, I watched my mom struggle with anxiety. But, I never understood what it was like personally until I went through a traumatic experience myself. Emotional abuse is what led me to become both socially and emotionally scared.
It all began when a guy, who I had a crush on at work, expressed interest in me. Naturally, I was so excited just like any girl is when she finds out a crush likes her back. We started hanging out and, soon after, began dating.
But, it wasn’t long before he would start to say things to me like ‘Are you really going to eat that?’ or ‘I think it’s a little late to eat that’. Without even realizing it at the time, he was slowly breaking me down – both physically and emotionally.
Rumors began surfacing about him hooking up with other girls, but I didn’t want to believe it, because as the saying goes: I was blinded by love. Several months went by before I began to accept the fact that there had to be truth behind these rumors, so I began investigating on my own. I discovered small things such as feminine products in the trashcan of his room and girls’ socks in his hamper.
One night, I was at his house when his ex-girlfriend came ‘home’ and knocked on the door. He forced me to hide on his back porch and proceeded to pretend that I was not there. As soon as I could, I quickly left and thought I was surely never going to go back to him.
But, as much as I hate to admit it, he somehow convinced me that he and his ex were not together. At this point, he made me feel like and believe that he was all I had. He had broken me down to nothing, which made it easy for him to manipulate me.
Months later, after closing myself off from all my friends, I found out he had cheated on me with 13 other girls. This was too much for me to handle- I decided I was done. I told him that I found out about him cheating. Of course he denied everything, saying that I was a liar to accuse him. I told him that I wanted nothing to do with him and I began to try as much as possible to ignore him.
Aggressively, he started stalking me. He would sleep outside my apartment, bang on my window at 2 or 3 in the morning. He would put his face close to the window and would not leave for hours.
I would often wake up to hear hands sliding down my window, trying to get inside. I felt so helpless, knowing he was watching every move I made. Fingerprints would be on the outside of my window in the morning, more proof that he was trying to do more than just wake me up. At the time, I felt that somehow this was all my fault and that I deserved this, so I stayed quiet and never called the police.
But, things began to get worse- he began following me whenever I left my apartment, throwing chairs or other objects at me if I walked by without acknowledging him. After many weeks of these behaviors, I realized I needed to do something; this was no way to live the rest of my life. I finally gathered the courage to go to the police and, once I did, he finally stopped coming around.
I cried and did nothing for weeks after- barely having any sort of social life because I was scared to leave my house. I previously had struggled with suicidal thoughts before, but nothing like the pain I was feeling then. It was after that realization that I was in a terrifying, dark place that I decided to tell my mom what was going on.
By her recommendation, I starting to see a therapist, who eventually diagnosed me with both social and generalized anxiety. My anxiety affects me in many ways- in a general sense, I can rarely ever be alone. I have a gripping anxiety in social situations, even to this day, which I am still working through overcoming.
Just the other week, I experienced a severe panic attack that left me shaken for several days. My therapist is actually starting me in a different style of therapy, called EDMR. It is a newer therapy, which is used to retrain the brain to think of situations differently.
My biggest piece of advice is to never allow yourself to feel like you are alone. Ever. Someone out there understands what you are going through and you are so loved. The thoughts in your head that tell you otherwise are not coming from your rational brain. The worst thing is thinking you are alone and I promise you, you are not.”