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.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by Freezelight

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Mental Health

Mother touching daughter's nose.

25 Secrets of Moms Living With a Mental Illness

Being a parent is hard. Being a parent with a health challenge can be extra hard. Being a parent with a highly stigmatized health challenge… it can leave a momma with mental illness feeling like no one understands what she’s going through. That’s why, just in time for Mother’s Day, we wanted to ask moms in [...]
A woman holding pills in her hand

The One Thing I Wish I Was Told About Taking Antipsychotics

When I was younger and just started to learn that medication wasn’t just for physical problems, but also mental health problems, I thought it would work just like magic. My parents have taken medication for their mental health for as long as I can remember, and on the outside, they looked fine. When I was [...]
Two images one reads "rested today" other says "picked up my meds"

Hannah Daisy Illustrates #BoringSelfCare on Instagram

There are many ways to practice self-care. Often, when self-care is promoted, the focus is on relaxing tasks like taking a bath, cuddling up on the couch, doing some gentle yoga or meditating. However, not all self-care is enjoyable. Sometimes, the best way to really take care of yourself is to cross off the more [...]
newspaper yarn design of cloud

How My Newspaper Yarn Designs Mirror My Mental Health Recovery

The process I go through to make my newspaper yarn designs mirrors my therapy and recovery journey. It has mainly been about building a new way of “being.” I can’t change my brain or my history, but I can try to dismantle some of the power held by the stories which make up my ingrained [...]