I Don't Talk About My Mental Health for Attention
We see the posts on social media. You’ll be scrolling through and suddenly you’ll see the, “No one cares about x, y, or z thing that’s happening in your life” post. You know the one. The one that makes you think at first this person can’t handle differing political opinions, but then you realize it’s someone who doesn’t feel sharing personal details of your life belongs on social media.
I beg to differ.
Self-identifying as a rape survivor, and as someone who has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety and chronic health conditions, was extremely difficult. I felt like I drew a bulls-eye on my head; I am now “that girl” on Facebook and Instagram who doesn’t shut up about her health and who doesn’t stop posting her writing about it either.
My advocacy came in waves. While my assault happened when I was in college, I was more open to talking about my autoimmune diseases before I fully started to advocate as a survivor of sexual assault. But advocating can leave you feeling very isolated. People immediately assume when someone is constantly sharing intimate details of their life it is because they want attention. I can assure you in my case, it is not. Standing in front of a room full of people describing the aftermath of your sexual assault, or doing a TV interview stating you’re a rape survivor who has post-traumatic stress disorder, is not something you do because you had a free afternoon and just casually felt like it. When someone shares their story, you need to understand something – it’s not just about them. Every time I sit down to write, my focus is on how I can add my story to the larger narrative to move it forward to help people.
Letting you in on the uncomfortable details of my life is not ideal. However, it is necessary.
It is necessary that people know how many times I’ve attempted suicide. It is necessary for people to understand how my rape has affected my everyday life and my mental health ever since. It is necessary that people understand how my anxiety and depression affects my friendships and relationships. It is necessary that people understand how my chronic illnesses feed my depression, and how they have, at times, made me question my self-worth and purpose. It is necessary that you know and understand what a bad pain day is versus a good pain day in the life of someone with a chronic illness. It is necessary that you know I’ve battled addiction. It is necessary that you understand how at times I feel as though I exhaust people by simply existing.
It is necessary that you know I’m still fighting all of it. It is necessary that you know there is hope. It is necessary you know you are not alone. And I will never stop telling you.
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 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
Thinkstock photo via Poike