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I Am a Rape Survivor, but to You I Am a Pre-Existing Condition


Editor’s note: This piece discusses sexual assault, self-harm, suicide ideation, disordered eating, and could be triggering. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

I am a pre-existing condition.
I am 3-a.m night sweats and night terrors,
debating whether or not to send an email,
crying out for help.

I am 5 years old, 6 years old, 7.
The fight is over, we are moving away.
No more playing house because Mommy says it’s not OK.
“That’s not how kids play house,” but I didn’t know any better.

I am 11 years old, grazing a safety pin across my skin, wondering what it would be like to hurt myself.

I am 12, 13, 14,
hurting myself.

I am…
I am sending the email this time. I am reaching out for help.
I am on Medicaid, and the government-paid psychiatrist tells me and my parents this is a normal part of growing up.

I am 15. I am 16. I am losing control. I am losing weight… fast.
I am black circles under my eyes because I haven’t eaten in days.

I am graduating high school.
I never thought I’d live this long…

I am falling in love.
I am going to the emergency room because I need stitches and I don’t want anyone to know.
I am alone.

I am in therapy.

I am telling secrets I have never told anyone before.
I am talking about being 5 years old and being sexually abused.

I am 18 years old. Drunk beyond consent… but I am an adult, I “should have known better.”

I am keeping secrets.

I am crying in my parents’ room.
I am telling my mother I was raped.
Almost two years too late.

I am in treatment.
I am in treatment.
I am learning I am not alone.
I am learning it wasn’t my fault.

I am getting better.

I am falling again.

I am 22. I thought I was better, so I stopped taking my medicines.
I am feeling alone again.
I am throwing up after I eat because it’s the one thing I have control over.
I am cutting myself again, but this time I don’t care who knows.
I am over 50 scars on my body mostly in places that no one will see.
I am bandages over my wrists and stitches on my ankle.

I am “too much” for outpatient treatment.
I am in treatment. Again.

I feel like a disappointment.
I need to grab the bull by the horns.

I am doing well on my meds and debating going back to school.

I am living alone.
I am scribbling a poem down on paper.
This might be my last one.

I am waking up with blood on my sheets and my dog licking the bandage on my leg.
I am needing to see a doctor but terrified anyone will find out.
I am changing the bandage.

I am going to the hospital almost 24 hours later.

I am in treatment. Again.

I am hundreds of miles away from home,
learning once again that none of it was my fault.
I am learning to breathe again.
I am learning to cope.

I am doing better.
I am doing so much better.

I am in recovery.
I am in recovery, but things are starting to get dark again.
I am in therapy saying I don’t think I need this anymore.

I am 25.
I am waking up to night sweats and night terrors and would rather not sleep at all.
I am debating sending an email or a text.

I am anxious. I am depressed.
I am struggling.
I am aware I may lose my health insurance and then I will have no choice on whether or not I need therapy anymore.

I am in serious debt.
I am wanting to go back to school.
I am holding down a job I love.
I am thriving in many ways.
I am learning I was born with a brain that works differently from others.

I am more than my anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorder.
But to you,
I am a pre-existing condition.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

Follow this journey on My Hand and His Collide.

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Thinkstock photo by Freezelight