I had my last session with Katie, my case manager at AWARE today because like she mentioned, we were going to have 3 sessions and then if I wanted to continue counselling I would be transferred to a longer term counsellor. I wasn’t going to go for more counselling at first, but yesterday after Dr Kelly said it would be a good idea to process trauma and after I had the huge breakdown yesterday and realised how not-okay I am, I decided to go for it because I’m trying to help myself. I do think it’s something I need to process, what happened. I feel so unsafe all the time, so. incredibly. unsafe. and so tired of having to fight- I am beyond exhausted. Katie and I talked about transferring me to a long-term counsellor to help me process and cope with the rape/past trauma. I don’t want to deal with it but it’s okay I guess.
I told Katie a lot actually- I told her about how my dad was violent and how my mum was never there for me. I wanted to cry, talking about that, because even bringing it up gives me bad memories. She asked me to think about being an adult now or even imagine being a Mother and what I would tell my child-self. I struggled with the emotions that it brought up but I said the most important thing was that I would listen to the child, and remind that they are cared for and protected and safe. I would talk more about this, but it’s too hard to think about, especially the part about feeling safe. I told her about how I’ve never had anyone there for me, how I’ve grown up in pain and being hurt, so I’m used to it. I told her how I look back and I hardly remember my childhood, all I remember is pain and bad memories, how there are holes in my memory- she said that’s normal, really. I told her that because I wanted to explain to her why it’s so hard to cope with everything right now, I just feel like I am dealing with the pain of everything at once. I thought I was over the stuff in my past but I’m not, and going through the aftermath of the assault makes me feel the same way I did back then, small and unsafe and vulnerable.
Writing this, I’m struggling to recall the session because all I remember is being so.. blurred and zoned out and mildly dissociated. But yeah, I told her how I’ve been feeling so helpless, that some of the numbness and shock has worn off and it makes me feel so sad and it’s hard to accept that what happened was real. I told her how I’ve also been angry that I have so deal with so much, that I have to fight and fight just to be okay and to get better when this wasn’t my fault. I told her how I feel like I’ve almost swung to the other end of the pendulum. I went from feeling like everything is my fault to starting recovery and realising it isn’t my fault- and that makes me feel helpless and angry. Because if it’s not my fault why am I suffering so much? She talked about how I could try to find balance, to regain some of that power & control and not blame myself but also not feel helpless.
She agreed that I’ve had so much to deal with and she said that she’s not surprised that I was feeling so tired because I’ve really been through a lot, and she said that I’ve been working so hard and doing everything I can to help myself heal, and doing the emotional work- things that not everyone would do. She knows I’ve been going to therapy, art therapy, seeing my psychiatrist, working at it on my own, and even coming down to AWARE to see her. She has been so validating of all of my struggles? She said this ‘you’re really really strong and I can imagine how tired you are, you’ve had a such hard time, with your mental health struggles on top of 2 incidences of sexual violence and childhood trauma & violence. You’re doing a really good job and you’re trying so hard to come out stronger on the other side of this and I’m proud of you for coming down to talk to me’. I told her I still feel like it’s partly my fault, but I’m thankful for the safe space and for the validation.
We did talk about all the things I’ve been struggling with daily too, my sleep being screwed up and how I can’t concentrate on anything at all, how I can’t do schoolwork at all, how I can’t think, how I have no appetite. We even talked about how this has affected my ED. She suggested trying to have meals with my family and maybe get some meds to help with sleep? I also tried to pick things up and I shared with her one of my poetry pieces. I guess I told her that I am so tired, but I am trying. She talked about how I can use my story to help others. I don’t know, honestly. I don’t feel ‘sick enough’ and my story doesn’t feel ‘bad enough’. The incident doesn’t feel like it was bad enough to be rape, and neither do the rest of the incidents feel bad enough to be assault, my childhood doesn’t feel bad enough to be abuse and I’m just not sick enough.
I am trying so hard but it feels like such an endless battle. I am so exhausted from fighting to survive. I’ve fought for so many years, fought to just survive, day after day of living in this hell, day after day of fighting to be okay and keep going. I need this to be different than all the other times I’ve had to fight so hard because I don’t think I can do it again, I just can’t. I’m too tired. I can’t keep fighting to survive, fighting to survive is too tiring and painful, fighting to survive means getting myself together and using what I can to survive- and that is usually unhealthy ways, usually involving the ED. Recently, I’ve realised that the ED has really been the one constant in my life and the one constant thing that I have used to cope, and to run away from my pain to survive. I use it to cope with pain and self loathing and depression. I’ve tried to get better and cope better, the depression has come and go but I haven’t been in recovery because the ED has always been there and I’ve been steadfast in not letting that go- until now.
this time I think maybe the key is not to fight to survive the pain, but fight to heal the pain and keep learning to how to be kinder to myself.
Honestly I really, really just need to not be okay. Because I’m not okay. I’m dying. I’m not going to say I can’t cope because I can cope, I have the tools- I just need to use them which is hard, but I need to use them I think? I really feel so so awful. I’m exhausted from having to cope, I told Katie how it feels like my life has shut down since it happened. Everything has stopped. I’m not even the same person anymore and I am so scared and anxious and unsafe all the time. I didn’t feel like I was real in the past but now I’ve been experiencing so much more dissociation and this awful feeling like my body isn’t mine. It’s a new feeling, I feel so disgusted by what happened and I hate my body. Today, when I was leaving the place, this guy walking by literally stopped and leered and looked me like a piece of meat- considering how hypersensitive & unsafe I’ve been feeling, that triggered me so badly. I ended up having bad anxiety and dissociating, bad memories of the assault kept coming up and everything was spinning. I tried to deal with it on my own but it wasn’t helping? So I picked up the courage to go back to the care center and look for Katie to ask for help despite my fears of being a burden, and she and one other counsellor was there to help me calm down and they were just really comforting and just the loveliest. One of them got me some water and brought me back into the therapy rooms to calm down, and we did some grounding exercises.
I told Katie how awful I felt about how he looked at me, how it exemplifies the feeling of being so dirty and gross, how it makes me feel like this body is not mine at all. The bad memories come back and it feels so awful, I cannot describe. I hate it so much. I just feel… raped, I feel violated and so devastated and I can’t describe how awful it feels. Like something was stolen from me. I feel so disgusted I want to rip off my skin. I feel the attacker’s hands on me and feel this person’s eyes on me and I feel sick to my stomach because I really don’t feel like my body belongs to me. It belongs to him and everyone else that has touched me. Having this person look at me this way reminded me of the 2/3 times when I was a kid and I was approached by men in public and they tried to touch me or be ‘too friendly’, and the worst was the way the looked at me. It reminded me of the time my dad’s friend slid his hand under my skirt onto my thigh when I was younger. It reminded me of the time at the music festival and the way those guys fondled and rubbed themselves at me and how they at looked at me. This one look today triggered all of that.
I feel sick and disgusted and I want to take it out on my body. I hate my body and for once it’s not ED related. It’s so different from how it feels when I feel disconnected from my body when I’m restricting. It feels like my body was violently stolen from me and now I hate my body so much. I told her how awful I felt, how disgusted I felt, how painful it is. I started tearing up and I wanted to cry so badly but I didn’t. I feel so dirty and disgusting, like I want to scrub myself clean of all their hands. I can’t stop feeling it all. She mentioned that as I process the trauma, layers of new feelings will keep coming up, but she said that this one in particular is a really hard one. I feel like it was my fault this guy stared at me today because of the off shoulder shirt I was wearing? I told her how I feel like it’s my fault but she was validating and insisted that it wasn’t, and it was something that happened to me. She was also so validating and said that it was not an abnormal reaction, and I was not overreacting. I’m thankful I went back to ask for help because it was nice having that support? She was so sweet and even stayed with me until I was okay, we had a chat about what it’s like working in social services. She made sure I felt okay and said I could call her or the helpline whenever I need, and she even walked me out to the road.
I just feel so overwhelmed. I realised my depression is getting worse and I am feeling increasingly tired and unmotivated, I don’t want to live and getting through the days are harder and harder. I also haven’t been taking my meds because I feel undeserving. I feel like I’m sinking into depression (which I badly don’t want to happen) and I don’t even know if it’s because of the assault or because depression. I have been walking around an anxious wreck, and I still can’t get over these moments of feeling like people are behind me, and today, even looking at people (men) scared me. I’ve been so painfully hypervigilant and I feel so unsafe that it hurts. There are more and more feelings that come up, especially on days where I go to AWARE, I feel like I’m slowly opening up the Pandora’s box and slowly starting to feel it- and it hurts. I’ve only peeled off one tiny layer and it already hurts so much I feel suicidal when the pain comes.
I’ve barely been sleeping at a reasonable hour and I didn’t eat yesterday either, I had one coffee and one mango frap. I’ve been feeling really really tired and dizzy so today I forced myself to eat a granola bar in the afternoon and it’s not much but I’m proud of myself for pushing myself to eat despite how hard it has been. When it comes to the ED, it’s too hard to allow myself to eat more and I don’t think I can eat without supervision, I genuinely also have no appetite and no energy to eat which I think just makes the ED worse. I still don’t know how to make the behavioural change even though I actually want to do it now and I know I should? The ED is so loud that I just don’t know how to eat, I don’t have enough motivation (?) to do it alone. I don’t know how to take care of myself and I sure don’t feel deserving of that. And now, with how awful I feel in my body after the assault, that is going to impact the ED. I’m losing weight and for once it’s not a good thing- it’s like the week leading up to my admission where my mental health was so bad that I couldn’t bring myself to eat much and lost a bunch of weight. Still, I can’t stop weighing myself everyday and when I weigh myself, I need to see the number keep dropping. Of course I want to lose weight, even though I know I shouldn’t. I don’t think that’s something I’ll ‘get over’ anytime soon.. but like I said in therapy yesterday, I feel like recovery & finding an identity outside of the ED is about living and making room for life. I think I need to be able to just tolerate maintaining at the same weight and not keep losing, to make peace with my body, and not fixate on weight but to live? Something Eunice said to me a few days ago really stayed with me
I was thinking, we only have one life to live. And weight gain is just a teeny part of life, in the end. You’ll go on to do amazing things and weight will have no part in it.
I’ve been trying to remember that. It’s hard enough recovering from an ED on its own- so, so difficult. Ask anyone who’s recovering from just an ED and they’ll tell you how it is so hard, it is really a full time job. It’s hard enough coping with and recovering from sexual assault too. Likewise, you see a sexual assault survivor and it is emotionally just so hard on them. It’s the with any other mental illness, same with depression, it’s the same with c-ptsd/childhood trauma, and same with attachment issues- they are all incredibly difficult things to cope with individually. Everything is hard enough on its own, surviving is hard enough- having to deal with them all together is a special kind of hell on its own. Not to mention, I’m not just trying to cope with all of those things mentioned above but I’m also trying to start recovery from my ED for the first time, trying to work on recovering from and managing the symptoms of the other illnesses, learning how to cope in non-destructive ways and also working on processing trauma. I’m not just surviving these things. Surviving this in my own way would be me numbing myself by starving, by purging, by drinking and cutting and self destruction and pushing everyone away, that’s how I always have survived. I’m not just surviving but I am trying to change. Change is hard, and such a huge and destabilising change (change in belief systems and sources of comfort and coping skills and thoughts) would be hard for anyone, even a normal person. So dealing with change, fighting for change on top of everything else is.. it’s a lot.
I don’t just deal with the painful aftermath of sexual assault, I deal with the compounded effects of this sexual assault, plus the previous one, plus all the times in my life I’ve been sexually harassed/looked at/touched inappropriately, plus the exact same feelings that the violence and childhood trauma and parents bring up. They are hard enough to deal with alone, but put them together and they amplify the effects of each other. That is why I feel like I’m having an even harder time dealing with this than maybe someone who’s healthy and is going through this for the first time. The weight of combined trauma is too much to bear, especially when I do not have the strength or capability to carry this weight because I am already carrying the even-heavier weights of the eating disorder and depression and c-ptsd/bpd symptoms. And I feel like recovery is making everything so much harder, it’s something that helps me in the long run but right now it is also an additional weight on me. But I have to do it because like I said, I don’t have the energy to to fight to survive anymore. I’m not okay and I don’t want to be okay. If I’m going to get through this, I want to heal. But healing is hard. Recovery makes this worse in the short term because I don’t have my ED to help me cope, because I’m trying so hard to rely on people instead of relying on self destruction but that in itself triggers the constant fear that everyone is going to abandon me, because I am spending so much time talking about my feelings which triggers the repressed pain, because all of the change makes me feel even more unworthy and uncomfortable on a daily basis. Because recovery is damn hard work that I don’t always have the energy for. Most days I try to get by the best I can. That’s okay too I guess.
I need to remember to practice self compassion. I bought myself a lotus pandora charm today. I want to remember that I am strong, that healing takes time, that I can be kind with myself. I need to nurture myself this time if I want to build myself up.
Today I also went out to Gardens by the Bay and then to dinner with my grandparents, since I’ve been trying to spend more time with them after shutting them out for so long, but I felt too awful and tired and sad. I couldn’t ground myself and live in the moment, I was so lost in my own thoughts that I was writing again. I can’t seem to stop writing and journaling these days and I don’t know if it’s good or bad?? I’m spending so much time writing, I feel the need to compulsively write about my thoughts and analysing how things are- I think maybe it’s a way of being in control when I am so dissociated, and maybe also a way of rationalising feelings? I feel like it’s also a way of obsessing over recovery and obsessing over writing about my feelings because I don’t know how to stop and allow myself to feel. I think it’s good to reflect and vent, but I don’t take the time to actually check in with myself, which I need to do, I think. And I would like to spent less time rambling. It would be good for me to practice my DBT skills daily- I think I’ll use my DBT journal to focus on checking in with myself and how I feel everyday, as well as gratitude lists and doing some proper reflection. When it comes to writing about things that happen, I’ll keep to Instagram updates and blogposts when it’s a long rant like today. I feel like I need to use my DBT journal more for sure.
I want to celebrate my small wins because everything is so overwhelming. I want to create small recovery goals I can achieve because recovery feels impossible. I feel like I need to be kinder to myself and not push for recovery or progress, like Dr Kelly and Katie said, I am dealing with so much that surviving and just showing up is a lot. I want to not be okay. I really want to just let myself not be okay for a bit, because I am in too much pain. Especially after today, today while writing this I felt so awful I almost had a full blown breakdown in the supermarket. I didn’t realise how much this really hurt. Today things were so bad I considered a short hospitalisation for different reasons: for the ED, to give me a safe space to let myself not be okay, to stabilise my mood a little so these intense emotional shifts are more manageable, and to give me a goddamn break from fighting so hard and feeling so unsafe. But I don’t think it’s a good idea, I have school and Dr Lee wouldn’t suggest it and I don’t want to deal with my parents. It’s okay. I think I’m going to start spending more time at KKH and even at AWARE because those are such safe spaces for me. And I’m going to start journaling more. I will be okay. I am so tired but I am so proud of myself because I am growing so much and I see it in the way I think and the way I write, and even the way I am choosing to try to cope, by reaching out and explicitly asking for help and support, by self care and compassion. It is such a huge change, but I think it’s the culmination of what I have been working on over the past few months. I’m trying not to let it scare me. I will be okay.