Cincinnati, Ohio USA
"I suffer from bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, self-harm, suicide ideation, and an eating disorder.
In the fall of my freshman year of college, I was sexually assaulted in my dorm room, with people around me sleeping. Since that day, I noticed my life head into a downward spiral. I didn’t tell anyone about what had happened, except two of my closest friends.
I went into a deep depression. I would skip class because I went to a small school and feared running into him, I could barely eat, and I started self-harming and developing suicidal thoughts.
My family did not find out until 10 months later. I ended up dropping out of that school a week before I was supposed to move-in for my sophomore year. I decided to transfer to the University of Cincinnati in the spring of my sophomore year.
After living in Cincinnati for a few months, the topic never came up, the previous school was never mentioned, and when people asked why I left, I made up other reasons. The event still haunted me and followed me 12 hours away from home, where I was trying to run away from it all.
I developed an eating disorder and would spend most of my time in my room. When I would hang out with guys I didn’t know, both alone or with other people, it triggered it all to come flooding back causing panic attacks.
During the fall of my junior year, I hit rock bottom. And, everything plummeted quickly.
I was working 50 hours a week, while taking 18 credit hours. My suicidal thoughts were at the highest they had ever been, and one night everything just took a turn for the worst. I was rushed to the emergency room in the middle of the night because I was at my worst and tried to take my life.
I was then transferred to the psychiatric unit where I was officially diagnosed with PTSD, major-depressive disorder, and anxiety. My mom flew down and I was put on medication, while also going to counseling and therapy sessions. Things started to get better and look up, but not for long.
It never got brought up again and others went back to pretending that nothing ever happened, making it worse for me knowing I didn’t have family that accepted what happened or loved ones to talk to about how I was still feeling. I stopped taking my medication because I believed it was making things worse and I stopped talking with a professional because I hated talking about what was going on in my head.
This past summer, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I refused to wear anything that showed my arms or legs around family or people I didn’t know, even if it was 90 degrees outside. I had this constant fear of people judging me. I would constantly wonder why. Why was all of this happening to me the last 3.5 years? Why did I deserve to go through all of this? What did I do for this to all happen? Nothing made sense to me. I refused to accept everything that had happened.
Just recently I came to start accepting that, even though some people in my life are ashamed to be associated with me because of what happened, I know that I am not my past. I am not the mental illnesses that I have and they do not define the person I am. I am stronger because of them and people can think whatever they want. People can stare at my arms and legs and think whatever they want.
My scars don’t show my weaknesses, but rather my strength. I still struggle with keeping things inside, rather than talking about them right away, but I have discovered that talking about things to people is actually helpful rather than harmful.
I am slowly learning to be honest with myself and to others about how I am feeling and what is going on instead of lying and keeping it all in, as it eats me up. Those who care about me and love me regardless of what has happened are the people I need to keep in my life and hold close to me."