What even is recovery?

I feel like the last few months have happened with a click of a finger. It is October now and it has been approximately eight months since my breakdown. Meltdown. Breaking point? I can’t even find the words for what that experience was.

My recovery is a slow and ongoing process. June and July were a blur of me sobbing, hurting and being incredibly hurt and angry all the time. I had no passion, no drive and no reason to continue living.

Something changed for me in August. I undertook the first of six clinical placement at the local base hospital. I was put on a ward I wasn’t sure I would like, in a place where I felt I would break and not succeed. I didn’t sleep the 24 hours before my clinical began. I was overwhelmed by anxiety: What if I fail? What if I hurt someone? What if.

I made a pact with myself on the morning of day one. If I fail this clinical or if I don’t enjoy it, if it doesn’t feel 100 per cent right, I’m going to withdraw from my course and continue a career of business administration.

On day three, a funny thing happened. For the first time in almost two years, I slept through the night, and I woke up excited to go to work (clinical). The work I was doing was hands on, graphic, confronting, but completely exhilarating. My body and mind seemed to harness the anxiety that would normally tear me down. Anxiety turned into positive energy. I was on my feet from 6am to 5pm. My feet hurt, my back hurt, my head was sore from having a ponytail done up so tightly. My body was aching, but my mind was on fire. I had finally found it. This is The One.

I was on Cloud 9 for the rest of my clinical. Physically I was exhausted, but my mind didn’t feel dark anymore- I had too much going on!

Fast forward to October. I’m back in my normal business administration role. It certainly isn’t where I want to be forever, but for now it is ok. I feel comfortable catching the bus again. I can go out alone and I don’t feel scared or upset. Much.

Recovery is a funny thought. For me it is a rise then a fall, then another rise, plateau, fall. It is always changing and being fully recovered will not happen for me. Now it is time for me to understand that PTSD will always be a huge part of my life, and that trying to balance out the bad days with twice as many good days, will be hard. Life is hard. Being alone 13 hours a day is hard. Having the love of my life nearby, but having absolutely no idea if he will ever come back to me in one form or another is a constant. It is hard to tell if he even likes me as a person at this point. It certainly is a challenge that I anticipated, but I thought not having him around would get easier as time goes on, but it is actually harder.

I will always be wary of meeting new people and trying new things. I am acutely aware of what is happening to my body and what the result of constant anxious and intrusive thoughts. But the two weeks on clinical, where my purpose was to put other people first instead of me- that made me realise that this life is bigger than just me. If I am going to be alone for the rest of my days, it gives me comfort to know that I helped at least one person get through some of the darkest days of their own life. I really hope and wish that this will be enough.




Dear Hannah Baker

~Dear Hannah,

The last noted date on the depositions was 10 November 2017. So by rights, you are still here and somewhat ok. I feel like I need to write this to you, a fictional character, to let you and who ever else is reading this, that you saved me over the last few weeks. ~

While watching this show (13 Reasons Why) I have been entering deeper stages of my PTSD/Anxiety/Depression/Whatever recovery. I have also been knee deep in studies and examinations. I have also found out that the perpetrator who I thought had left my town is in fact, back and dating again. He has also graduated from University. Just a few weeks ago.

After I found out about the graduating, I felt a whole new level of anger and fear that I haven’t felt before. He’s back. He’s moved on. He has graduated and started a whole new life for himself. He has taken everything away from me that I ever wanted.

He took my graduation, my love, my trust, my studies, my path and my future all away from me. This guy who could barely spell has completely thrown my life sideways. He has given me nothing but fear and hatred.

I could paint a picture of him for you: Imagine Bryce Walker from 13 Reasons Why. Imagine Bryce at university. Imagine the letterman jackets that he would still be wearing. Imagine a Bryce that used to be great at sport but had been plagued by injury and now was angry at the world. Imagine a Bryce who thought he had been fucked over by women everywhere, and now he had to hurt them back. Imagine that Bryce met me.

What I really loved about this show was that it made me feel less alone. It made me realise that my situation isn’t unique and that the ‘Bryce’ of the world is everywhere and in unexpected ways. Hannah Baker is not like me. Hannah is stylish and pretty and is noticed by the boys at her school, even if she didn’t want to be.

Hannah is a warrior. She had an epic battle against her and although she lost, her story is something to behold. Her story made me realise that what I am feeling does not make me insane or deluded. It also made me realise that hurting myself and ending it all would only hurt those around me that care. It would only hurt me for a moment and then it would all be over. I wouldn’t feel a thing. I wouldn’t get to see the reactions of the people that I care about. I wouldn’t get to see my distraught parents trying to figure out why I did what I was thinking of doing. I wouldn’t get to see the boy I love realise that he should have loved me back when he had the chance. I wouldn’t get to see the perpetrator live a normal life and get away with it. Hannah didn’t get to see any of this. But we, the viewers, did.

~Hannah, please know that you are not alone in this. Please believe that it will be ok, even though we both know it isn’t going to be ok. I hope with every inch of what is possible to hope on that the Bryce’s of the world get what is coming to them. I hope that they watch this show and realise what monsters they are. Even if they don’t think they are monsters, I hope that the people watching who have seen the monsters, take action and stop them. I hope that victim blaming stops being an issue in this society. Why would a dead girl lie? Why on earth would someone lie about being raped or sexually assaulted. Why?~ 

The laws surrounding this in my country are flawed and set up in such a way that it is separated state by state. It is done in such a way that if a complaint was made against the perpetrator, that they would know who made the complaint and they would figure out how to find them. This is why I am choosing to write this on here instead of going to the authorities. I know what would happen if he found out about this. If he were sent to jail and left to ponder why he was there. He would think of the reason he is there, which would be me. On release, what would he think to do then? Murdering someone can be instantaneous. Murdering them out of revenge would be measured and painful. Making someone live in fear for the rest of their lives would be too easy. Making sure that they are so afraid to let themselves be open to love again so they stay alone forever, in complete hopeless misery? That is the best revenge of all.

~Your story has allowed me to feel things and to not feel alone. I hope for all of our sakes, that the Bryce’s in the world get what they have coming to them. The laws around this sort of thing have to change, and I for one cannot wait for it to start.~ 

Love, x



Can you keep a secret?

I know that I can’t. I’m a shocking secret keeper. Anything you have told me in confidence, I have probably told my mother. Or at least a diary.

To add to this, I’m also a terrible liar. People can tell when I lie to them, and they can tell when I’m not quite telling the entire truth.

Here’s a truth for you: I wake up wishing that I hadn’t. Not all the time, only occasionally. I go to bed and my body is physically aching. My mind is stretched and sprained. I’m not ‘ok’. I wasn’t before the variety of incidents that made it worse. But now it feels like everything is an effort.

I know what you’re thinking: Shut up and get on with it. Life isn’t that bad. Get over it.

Well guess what? For me, life is that bad. The only thing keeping me going is the hope that I will graduate from university someday and move into a career that isn’t nearly as soul crushing as what I do now.

I live in hope that the man I love will finally realise that we are meant to be together, despite all that has happened between us. Love is love. It’s not that complicated.

I hope that one day, I won’t feel so alone.

I hope that this one day will be soon.

I hope that I will get through this.

I hope that the pain will end.

I hope that I’ll be ok.

My secrets aren’t so secret. Anyone who knows me knows all my secrets. I am an open book. At least I used to be. I used to be the girl that would wear her heart on her sleeve and tell the world all her thoughts and emotions.

I can’t be that girl anymore. It all hurts too much.

I hope that when you read this, that if you know me in person, you will come see me and be there. Just be there, even though I’ll probably push you away and tell you I’m fine, it’s just an off day.

Here’s another not-so-secret: I’m not ok. I want to hurt myself. I want to make it all stop. The pain to stop. The constant aching. The constant thoughts of not being good enough. I want to hurt myself so I can control my own pain and be the master of my fate.

One more secret: none of what is happening to me is your fault. I don’t blame anyone else for the way I feel now. It was all my own fault. I didn’t have to push the love of my life out the door. If you are reading this, and you will know who you are if you do: please know that none of it was your fault. You are so much stronger than I am. Please be strong for the both of us. I need you and the thought of that terrifies me.

Two minutes of panic.

On Friday night, I thought I was going to be killed.

There was no real lead up to this event, and nothing ever came of it. Obviously I wasn’t killed, and perhaps that was because of the panic.

Friday began as it always does. I catch the bus from from one stop into the city, then switch buses to transit to another neighbourhood where I work. When I leave, I remove any identification tags and stow them away in my pack. I put on my sound reducing headphones and listen to whatever iTunes suggests for that particular day. On this occasion it was a mixed bag, from Van Morrison through to Calvin Harris then back to Jerry Lee Lewis. I board the bus and try to sit in the back corner so that I can see who gets on and off. I switch buses in order to get back to my neighbourhood and continue as normal.

On this day I noticed these teenagers get on the bus, complete with hoodies and smelling like cheap cigarettes (or weed, but typical me has no idea what weed actually smells like). The bus pulled up at the stop before mine, and they got off. Further on the bus stops again, and as I step off the bus, I see the two hooded figures walking up from where the bus had stopped. It seemed fine. I kept a steady pace and a steady breath. They are just kids, what could they do?

I kept moving, it was only a five minute walk to home by this point. Then I made the mistake of turning around, and the boys were not even 15 steps behind me now. They would run closer every time I turned and kept walking. By this time I figure something was not quite right, and I began to pick up my pace. I paused my playlist and listened for the boys. I could hear them laughing about something. To get back to my house I have to go through a creepy alleyway. Turning up the alleyway, I could feel hairs standing up on the back of my neck, and my stomach felt like it was going to either come out of my mouth or fall into my shoes.

With the crushing weight of impending doom that I know so well finally getting the better of me, I began to walk even quicker. At which point I could hear running behind me. At last, I found the end of the pathway and some streetlights. I turned again to see the boys a few steps behind me. Laughing. Not a happy typical laugh, but what sounded like a really evil laugh. They made eye contact with me, then turned down the street and ran off.

This was when my body began to react in a more physical way. I couldn’t breathe at all. I could feel my throat closing up and my stomach doing trapeze tricks. The breathing picked up and then the hyperventilation set in. Breathe in, cry, breathe out, cry. Keep breathing. Sobbing. Until I got to the front door, where I firmly locked it and all of the darkness away.

When I look back on this, I consider the following:

  1. Am I being paranoid? Probably.
  2. Were the boys just late for dinner and running so they got in less trouble from the chef? Potentially
  3. Was I being followed? Yes, even if it was unintentional
  4. Was I going to be attacked or robbed? Maybe

After that, I realised that I wasn’t going to be killed. If the boys were going to rob me, they would have done so. They were all of fifteen apiece so I would have been fine, if a little battered and cut after the potential fight they would have had on their hands.

In the two minutes where the panic set in to when it subsided, I thought my life was over. I thought that they would kill me, take everything of value I was carrying and leave me to die in the street down the road from my house.

Being followed (or the thought that I am being followed or watched) is one of my triggers. It will set off a panic attack, a depressive episode, a feeling of complete terror and hopelessness. I felt like he was back. Ready for me. Ready to wrench the silver spoon right out of my mouth. In that moment, I was ready for the shouting, the pinching, the biting, using my body against my will. No consent. None of it was consent.

When you think you are crazy, everything feels like a mess (at least for me it does). It feels like my own reality has been altered and taken from me. That anything further is probably something I made up in my head for attention. Second guessing every decision, every choice, every movement, is just the way it is. Reality isn’t reality. Dreams are not dreams. What happened and what I think happened is a disjointed blur of confused and angry expression.

Not being able to seperate reality from my own truth is the most horrific part of this whole..thing. I wish I could think of a better word for what this is. Journey doesn’t seem right, as I’ve already lived it and now I’m just reliving it again, so it’s not really a journey. It’s not an adventure. I’m not doing this for my own enjoyment or amusement. This is not an attention seeking exercise. This is not a cry for help. This is just me. Trying to work out how I ended up here. Trying to figure out how to explain to people what happened, without the fear of them judging me or seeing me as used, disfigured, dirty, damaged goods.

Two minutes of panic has led to an entire weekend of confusion and anger. Even now, I can hear my 40 year old (at least) house creaking and I feel like at any moment, I could be attacked. Where I live in the world, wildlife is not an uncommon occurrence. So logically I know it may just be a fox or some other kind of mammal. But in my dreams, it could be him coming back again.

Two minutes is all it took. 120 seconds.

Today was good, until it wasn’t.

Welcome back, like minded thinkers.

When someone asks you “how was your day?”, how do you respond?

Since my breakdown, honestly I haven’t been able to answer that question without feeling the dark sinking feeling in my spine. How are you? Do you need anything? Can I help? These are the questions I have been getting since I’ve told a few people my story. I wish with every fibre of my soul that I could answer: Yes! Yes you can help me by doing this specific thing. This one thing will make all of the pain stop, and all of the hurt dissipate.

As you know, depression, anxiety, PTSD et cetera are not as simple as wash out the wound with saline, cover and keep from infection. If it were, we would not be in the blogosphere describing our indescribable hurt. We would be free from the darkness. Free to live with no regrets and everlasting joy.

At least I like to think that is what would happen.

The chemistry of the human body is complex and ever changing. The human brain is such a complex array of thoughts, feelings, actions, inactions, pain, joy, and any other word you could use to describe the way that your brain comprehends your outside interactions and turns them into the thoughts.

People are so fascinating. Some people, in order for them to function, they need to compartmentalise every part of their lives. This gets to the point that they can’t deal with. one part of their life until another part is fixed. They just can’t. One one hand, I envy them. How lucky they must be to only focus on a single facet of their life at any given stage. On the other, I feel for them. Do they even know who they hurt when they do this? Do they even care? In my experience, they care but they can’t say it until it is too late. or the signals they give out are just unreadable. It makes me so sad to think that these people could be so loved, if they just let themselves feel that love without putting it away in case they get hurt again.

Then there are those other people, who will use humour to get out of any situation, and to deflect and destroy those around them to make themselves feel better. These are the people that put up walls so high, that no one had any hope of breaking them down. Then they start hurting the person who tried to break down the walls. Then they break them. Then they keep breaking them. Until they end up scared to leave the house, scared to be around people and terrified to be alone.

The broken person without the humour walls ends up confused and alone. So confused that when the one person that they connected to instantly upon meeting them, walks away because trying to be with them is too much. Too much to deal with. Too much drama. Too much crying. Everything was just too much.

I feel so alone, and scared. I feel like the more I write, the more likely it is that he’ll find me. Once he finds me, I have no idea what he’ll do. I can assure you that he certainly won’t be offering me a cup of tea and an apology, or an acknowledgement that what he did to me is cruel, and unwarranted.

So now when the people who know part of my story ask me how my day is going, depending on what happened I can usually sum up with: Today was a good day, until it wasn’t.

Help me understand.

It all started with one question

If you are reading this, it will mean one of a few things. 1) you searched for #ptsd #assault #depression. 2) you found a link through my Facebook page (and thus you are, I hope, one of my friends. Or, 3) this is just a random blog that you happened to happen upon today.

Either way: welcome!

I would like to point out, before I start telling my story, that what you are about to read is as truthful as I can hope for. Given my experiences, and the time that has passed since they occurred, my mind has become clouded. But recently, it came back. In one, fast, horrifying moment.

My story is not unique. It is not special. What happened to me has happened to countless women and men around the world, in many different forms.

Emotional abuse. Physical abuse. Psychological abuse. Stalking. Humiliation. Ruined.

“Did he ever hit you?”

These words had little impact on me until recently. Until I realised what had happened five years ago. My story extends back further than that, but for now we can start here.

February, 2012.

I had met this person before. We went through many years of high school and college together. Seeing this person again, I didn’t really think anything of it. He was just another  boy who was a jerk in school. Looking back on this, I feel like such an idiot. My first impression was that this guy was a charmer, looking only to have his way with me. A conquest to prove that he could do it. I should have followed my instincts, which were to run as fast as I could, away from this monster of a human being.

I was about to turn 22, I was in my third year of a four year degree, on the road to becoming a primary school teacher. I was so close. I was on my way to the beginning of my new life. It was all planned out in my head: Graduate, have a beautiful classroom (similar to Miss Honey in Matilda), meet my future husband, get married and have a beautiful white brick house, with a green roof and green awnings. We would have three children, who would be absolute delights. We would be in blissful, joyful and irresistibly in love with each other, our children, and our lives together. What a life it would be!

Considering what I just wrote, I realise the naivety that consumed me at that age. What a life. I couldn’t even imagine my life this way now. How could I think that I would be that lucky? What had I done in my life to deserve that kind of happiness? Nothing, at that point. I still haven’t done anything to deserve that kind of happiness.

On the other hand, experiencing the brief thrilling highs of the beginning, and devastating lows of the next two years, I didn’t deserve that either. I still don’t. No one deserves to be treated that way.

Anyway. This boy and I started to hang out as just friends. Just. Friends. Which was fun, for a while. These stories don’t usually start out with “he abused me at the beginning” and neither does this one. Being the hopeless romantic that I was at the grand old age of 22, I began to look for signs that he may like me as more than a friend, and that there was something beneath this persona of confidence and cruelty. Something there that no one else but me could see. No one else could fix but me. I began to think of him as the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, and that if I helped him, I could make things better for him. I could fix him. I could make him happy and he would love me just as I was in return. It was perfect. We would have a magic life together, he would play footy on the weekends with his friends and I would sit and watch him enjoying himself.

The weeks turned into months and by June we had certainly moved past the “just friends” stage. He had an idea, which at the time I thought was genius. He made a bet with me that he could have his way with me by a certain date. He called it “storming the castle”, or “castle day”. He even put a notification in my calendar. It was around here that I should have seen the signs of what he was doing. Objectifying me and my body. Like I was just a bunch of skin with some holes to stick himself into (I know this line is from a movie of some kind, but he used it to describe me).

This boy was clever and talented in a lot of ways. He had such a creative mind, and he could write and tell stories that were exciting and fascinating. It didn’t matter to me that he couldn’t spell or use grammar correctly, or that his stories often depicted graphic violence (often against women). He was a strong and tough soul, and for the first few months I loved that. He was strong. He would protect me from everything. He knew every detail of my life. Everything about it. He could see right through me and could tell when I was lying to him. He just knew.

Fast forward a few months more, and we were dating properly. Not on Facebook or on social media though, because I was an awkward loser in high school and he had a reputation to maintain. Being seen on social media with me was not an option. I wasn’t as hot as his last two girlfriends. He and I both knew that going in. I am fully aware of how imperfect my body is. I am also completely aware of my personality flaws. all of it. Acutely aware.

The next 15 months that followed are still an absolute blur of horror and pain and nightmares. The purpose of this blog is to write down the memories as I remember them, so I can process them and put them away. I hope to use this tool as a way to heal. Full disclosure, this blog will be graphic. No one will be identified by name. Although, if you are reading this because of reason number 2, you will know who you are when you read it.

Currently I am in PTSD counselling and working through a myriad of different pills to try and get my brain sorted out. Constant nausea, restlessness and sleep deprivation because of nightmares are all an issue for me at the moment. I can’t even begin to describe the horror that fills my brain at night. I am too scared to sleep, too tired to stay awake.

My hope is that at the end of this blog series, you will understand what happened to me, what I did about it, and why I did what I did. I hope you can take away some lessons, or at least understand that there are other people out there who have experienced what you have. I hope that you will leave comments telling me that there is a light on the other side of this empty blackness that consumes me.

Finally, if you are the person who did these things to me in the first place and made me who I am today: Congratulations! You set out to do exactly what you intended to. Ruin me. Ruin me for other men. Ruin my life. Rip that silver spoon right out of my mouth. Congratulations. I hope that no other girl falls for your trap, although I’ll bet they already have. That’s how it works you see? You set the trap and the girl falls in, and you destroy her. You destroy everything about her that she ever loved. You completely ruin her life. I’m not the first girl you have done this to, nor will I be the last. I’m sure you will make sure of that.

Until the next nightmare,