The 'I Am' Sweater I Created That Allows Trauma Survivors to Self-Identify


Editor’s Note: If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

When I was a child, I was told I was smart — affirmed by teachers and programs. I was told I was pretty, if I were thin — affirmed by boys and indirect family commentary. When I was a teen, I was told I was vain, selfish and prideful — affirmed by scripture and dissection of my actions. I was told my pussy was unlike any other — affirmed by countless men and abusers who had an insatiable appetite for parts of me. Like Post-It notes, experiences, words and people placed labels on me. Ingredients, things I was made of — things I became.

Now I am told different things. I am told now I have major depressive disorder. I am told I have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and present symptoms of borderline personality disorder (BPD). I have new signs hung around my neck. As I work through each label, I see some of the adhesive has now cemented itself on my skin — in my pores.

So, who am I? What do I agree with? What do I feel? What does it matter what others say? Even as I write that, I scoff. I believe it does matter once it’s out there, once it’s presented to the world.

The “I Am” Sweater I created is a self-proclamation. The survivor can self-identify. The sweater tears away the labels, the Post-Its and stitches the words you need, desire and are working toward. They are strategically placed so you can be reminded of them in a discrete manner. Words and labels and diagnoses can sometimes box us in which, as a person who has anxiety attacks — being boxed in, literally or figuratively, is not an option.

I am web

Follow this journey here.

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

Photos via contributor.


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


Related to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

woman silhouette watching sunset over ocean

PTSD, and Why I'll Never Be Able to 'Get Over It'

Editor’s Note: If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. People have told me I shouldn’t keep talking and writing about my past as a survivor — that by doing so, I keep holding on to it. I’m [...]
Beautiful ethereal tranquil woman

10 Things You Should Never Say to Someone With a Mental Illness

This piece was written by Jamie Berube a Thought Catalog contributor. One of my fears in talking about my mental health condition is knowing that some people might treat me differently because of it. The thought of someone interacting with me in a way that was shaped by their own personal prejudices or ideas about what a [...]
fashion women illustration

An Unwanted Touch That Reminded Me Why It's Important for Survivors of Sexual Assault to Keep Reporting

Editor’s Note: If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. I’ve been unable to put together a cohesive thought or sentence since Monday, when someone I know sexually harassed me and my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was sparked [...]
young woman with face buried in hands sitting on bed despair trauma

How I Denied My PTSD, and What Finally Helped

Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm, or if you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here. You can contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at [...]