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

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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.

• What is PTSD?

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.

Photos via contributor.

Originally published: July 2, 2017
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