Click For Hope

PTSD

"I KNOW YOU WANT THIS..."

Breaking the Silence, Rape, PTSD, SuicideJasmine Lopez2 Comments
 Makeup:  Jacqueline Gamache  Styled by:  Co Chic Styling  Photos:  Jazi Photo

Makeup: Jacqueline Gamache Styled by: Co Chic Styling Photos: Jazi Photo

Please share your story:

It was my freshman year at the University of Iowa. My first year living away from my family. I shared a dorm room with two best friends from a small town in Iowa. We were very different people, but, still managed to enjoy being roommates. Being from Iowa, they often had friends from their home town come visit. It had never been an issue as they all usually went out at night together leaving me in the quiet of our room. One night, after having gone to sleep, and while they were all out partying, there was a knock on the dorm room door. Before opening it I asked who it was. I knew one of the guys who happened to be my roommates' friend, and had met on numerous occasions. He and his friend wanted to wait in the room for my roommates to return. They had been out partying and had had too much to drink, so just wanted to lay down.

The friend I knew immediately passed out on my roommates bed. I laid back down in my bed to try to get back to sleep. Next thing I know there is a weight on top of me. The other friend was laying on top of me and put his hand over my mouth so I couldn't yell out. He said, "I know you want this and it will be good for both of us". He proceeded to rape me, then got up and left, while the other friend was still passed out. I never knew the name of the person who raped me and didn't tell anyone the next day or even over the next year what had happened, in fact, I completely wiped it out of my memory.
 

For the next year I felt horrible about myself and had no idea why. I broke up with someone I had had a 2 year relationship with. I would cry at the drop of a hat. I started to not feel worthy of others' attention and withdrew a bit. I would take long walks at night hoping something bad would happen to me just so I could have something to tie to all of my negative feelings about myself. Because I had blocked the memory of the rape, I was lost and had no understanding why I didn't like myself at all.

About a year after the rape, I was feeling so low. I still had no understanding of why I didn't like myself. I became very depressed. I think on the outside people had no idea as I had always been a happy, bubbly person and tried to continue that persona around my friends. But, it was killing me inside. One night, I was done with feeling miserable and decided to commit suicide. I took a bunch of pills and called my family to say goodbye. My mom realized something was extremely wrong and got a hold of my brother who was also at U of I. He contacted 911 and had me taken to the hospital.

Oddly enough it was while I was vomiting up those pills at the hospital that I started remembering all of the details of the rape. Those memories, strangely enough, were a relief to me. I finally understood why I had fallen so deeply into the depressed state I was in. This gave me the ability to begin to heal. I saw a therapist who helped me understand that the rape was not my fault. However, I also went to a psychiatrist who told me that the rape is in the past and I need to forget about it and move on with my life (essentially snap out of it). I had repressed those memories for a year and now he wanted me to repress them again. I was mortified. I told him what he "wanted" to hear to get out of his office and move on with my therapy and life and never saw him again.

Has it been easy?!? No. Sometimes I find myself making horrible life choices due to still having some of the feelings of not being good enough, or, not feeling like I am worthy of love. I also have had many issues with intimacy. This can be hard for my husband who is a very understanding person. I don't always like to be touched. It has been about 30 years since the rape occurred, and, I am happy to say I survived.

How has your story shaped who you are today?:

My story has changed me in the fact that I understand and empathize with others who are going through issues in their lives. I am a support group leader for Alopecia Areata and feel that my past experiences have made me want to reach out and be there for my group. I am one of the first ones to say, "your story is your story and your hurt is your hurt, don't let anyone tell you it shouldn't bother you".

What compelled you to share your story?: I want others to know there is life beyond rape.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?:

My therapist once said "depression is like being in a dirt hole. No matter how often you try to claw your way out the dirt, it just gives way and you make no headway". Accept someone's ladder into that hole and let them help you pull yourself out. Life is worth living once you can see the sun outside of that dirt hole.

I ENDED UP BROKEN AT A VERY YOUNG AGE

Abuse, Breaking the Silence, PTSD, Sexual Abuse, SuicideJasmine Lopez4 Comments
 Photos by: Vivian Sinya Productions

Photos by: Vivian Sinya Productions

Please share your story: : I was seven years old when I attempted to help my first wounded animal. Being the nature lover that I am, at six years old on a breezy spring day I discovered a robin with a broken leg, tangled in a pop divider. I urgently tried to help the helpless bird break free. I will never forget that moment when my father and I did just that, and will never forget the moment God helped me to do that very same thing on my own. We all end up broken at one time or another, and unfortunately I ended up broken at a very young age at the hands of my abuser. Growing up no one ever suspected a thing because I hid it so well, and covered it with an infectious smile, that my parents couldn't even tell the difference. It was a secret of indescribable pain that I was going to take to the grave with me, because I didn't want to admit that someone I knew, trusted, and loved had sexually tarnished me. It's not an easy thing to come to terms with on your own, and then you grow older and the wound grows bigger and bigger as you continue to cover it with the same bandage until one day, God steps in. 

That day was a Saturday in 2007, my senior year of high school, as I sat in my parents room getting my hair brushed by my mom. One situation led to God opening up the truth about the daughter my mom thought she knew, and all I can remember is going into complete shock as the words fell from my mouth. The world turned black and the tarnishing moments began to replay in my head so fiercely as if they'd happened that day. My body was a limp leaf that was uncontrollably shaking, my mother was yelling out for my father to come into the room, and for such a fast moment, it felt like a scene in slow motion.

Fast forward to 2014, after the interviews, medical checks, and the court dates I skipped out on because I couldn't face him... I was informed he'd be released soon. Talk about your world shaking again after years of trying to get past the crap you buried for so long. The year of 2014 was my hell. I drank all of the time, was diagnosed with PTSD, stopped my career, cut out my family and friends, made decisions that could have caused a lot of trouble in my life...I hit rock bottom. Every single day I slept, I wept, and when I did make it out I wanted to jump in front of a bus. My mind, and spirit had been completely broken and one night I decided that it was the night I was going to die. I wrote my suicide note. I remember crying to God, yelling at Him, so angry that it had to come to that point. Then my phone rang. I will never forget this moment as long as I live, it was my co-worker calling for the 100th time telling me I am loved and that everything was going to be okay. It was God's last attempt to get through to me, and I answered. Out of all the texts and calls this girl bugged me with that I had ignored, I answered. She was at my apartment within minutes and that was the day, I for the first time, in my life, started to heal. 

Two years later, after counseling, facing my demons, getting back in church, and creating new music, I am SO THANKFUL to be living for the first time ever in my life. Though it took a lot of breakthrough, broken decisions, and much more to get here, I'm here and ready to help others live a life of abundance.

How has your story shaped who you are today?: It makes me everything that I am. The strong, resilient, gracious, and understanding woman has always been inside of me, but after everything I've seen, I can really say those qualities breathe truth throughout my life.

What compelled you to share your story with us?: 

I believe this story will speak to your viewers who may be feeling the need to hide their brokenness. I hold the banner for the broken, beautiful and want to see people set free from their bondage of anxiety, depression, addiction, and secrets. I truly know if this story is selected it will help in a way do just that.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?: 

You were created to live a beautiful life beyond the pain. Pain is real and your feelings are valid but don't settle there and give up. FIGHT. Surround yourself with solid people that will love you through each and every crack, and allow yourself to heal in your valley. It's there you discover who you truly are. It's there you discover who God truly is. He does not sit by while you suffer, he is there in the depths of what seems like endless sorrow. Let him in, and I promise you healing will flood your soul. Lastly, know that you are SO LOVED and cherished on this earth, even by a stranger like me.

When sickness takes over...

Mental Health, Anxiety, Mental Illness, PTSD, Clickforhope, GastroparesisJasmine Lopez3 Comments

Please share your story?

At 15, I got sick. Prior to I was a very competitive athlete and a gifted student, but I suddenly found myself battling for simple acts of survival. The first two years, of my illness, were spent spent fighting for doctors to listen, as my body fell apart. I ended up over 140 days in the hospital over a 12 month period, trying to convince doctors that my issues were physiological and not "all in my head”. Mental illness was treated with scorn, as if the possibility that my symptoms could be psychological negated their effect. I was losing weight, cognitive function, and hope.  The doctors didn’t listen, pushed my body to the point of collapse, added medications that gave me life-threatening complications, and physically injured me in both the physical and emotional sense. My parents (I was 16 at the time) wanted to discharge me against medical advice, but were told that if they did, it was likely that child protective services would be called. After seventy days, I was released on a whim by a holiday doctor- pure luck. Over the next few months and years, my family and a team of doctors, that I trusted, worked incredibly hard to bring my body back from the edge. I was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, an autoimmune nerve condition, mast cell activation syndrome, and gastroparesis. These diagnoses allowed for treatment of these conditions. However, even while my body improved, the traumatizing recollections remained- but in an interesting way. For so long it felt as if I was looking back on the experience from the view of an outsider. Logically, I knew it had happened to me, but the visceral response was absent. As I moved out of survival mode, my brain brought back experiences I had forgotten and reignited feelings that had been buried. This past summer, my health cratered again. This brought memories back in brutal technicolor, forcing me to change my coping skills and realize that the medical professionals caring for me were not like the ones who hurt me. I poured my heart into writing, and as I shared my story I was contacted by so many young women who had had similar experiences. I’ve found my joy and passion in patient advocacy, and I strongly believe that treating mental health in patients with chronic illness is just as important as treating the physiological diseases. My psychiatrist, medication, coping skills, my family and service dog- are all integral to my stability, and that's nothing to be ashamed of. There are so many ways to manage mental health, and acting as if it's a character flaw silences patients and denies them the opportunity for treatments that could greatly improve quality of life. If sharing my story openly has helped even one person feel heard and understood, then all of this is worth it.

How has having Taxi helped you?

Taxi has made a incredible difference. I received him in June of last year, and he's brought me so much joy. Of course, he helps with the physical tasks (opening/closing doors, turning on lights, retrieving my meds, etc.) but he also is an enormous emotional support for me and my family. He comes and asks to play when I’m anxious, he lays with me on the bad days, and he provides a lot of laughter for my whole family. 

Can you share what the port is for?
I have what's called a portacath, a permanent IV line surgically implanted under the skin, and accessed with a needle once a week. It allows me to receive intravenous medications at home, and to have IV access when I am in the hospital. Over time, my veins have become difficult to access as a result of scarring and malnutrition. I also have a GJ tube (gastrojejunostomy) that feeds me. It goes into my stomach, and then has an extension threaded down past the stomach, into the jejunum. My stomach doesn't process food, and so the tube goes past the stomach into a part of the gut that does function okay. It also helps me receive what's called "elemental" formula, which is hypoallergenic and basically pre digested, so my body isn't allergic to it. 


Does that mean you can't eat food?

I can eat some foods. Pretty much everything I eat makes me sick in some respect, but I can and do try to eat. Apples and potatoes are my main foods at the moment. I love to cook, however, and am constantly trying new recipes, even if I can't eat them! 


What does your life look like now? What do you do for fun?

My life revolves around my health and school. I'm a senior in high school, and my goal is to attend university next year. I take classes twice a week, and then in between that I do work online. I have at least one doctors appointment a week, most more. For fun, I like to train with my service dog (Taxi) and hone the skills he already has, write, and I love brush lettering and calligraphy

What compelled you to share your story?

I’ve been given so much help from others, who have walked this road much longer than I have. Whether it is a hack to carry meds without needles, advice for long hospital stays, the occasional true inspiration that helps drag you out of bed- it has all been invaluable. When I became the veteran of my disease, I wanted to start spreading information, support, and hope- along with the knowledge that you aren’t alone. I wanted the knowledge I'd gained to go somewhere, and to give back the support I had been given in some of my dark days. There’s so many things that I've learned along the way (big and small) and being able to pass that knowledge on has been the greatest gift of all. 


What encouraging words would you tell someone who has a similar story?

To take it one day at a time, and recognize the little victories. Recovery (physical, mental, emotional) is not and will never be a straight shot. One bad day or a bad week does not negate the progress that has been made- it doesn't push you back to square one, or mean that you aren't trying hard enough. It’s difficult to not blame yourself when you’ve been working so hard and can't see the rewards. Progress can be easily measured in the small victories. If you’re only looking for the major landmarks and mountains to summit, you can miss the the daily triumphs on the way. 

How can we follow along with all that you are doing? (ei: blog, social etc?)

You can follow me through social media (@actualmutant on Instagram and Twitter, as well as my blog: actualmutant.wordpress.com. You can also read my full story here: http://www.invisibleproject.org/www/participants/pediatrics/savannah-orth/, or  contact me at savannahorth@gmail.com.