Some Days, I Surprise Myself

And today was one of those days.

Today, I made two important phone calls before I had the chance to talk myself out of doing so. That’s significant for 2 reasons:

  1. I took action to actually help myself rather than simply thinking about it and accomplishing nothing.
  2. I faced a few fears in the process.

After yesterday’s intake appointment at the new facility where I’ll be receiving mental healthcare, I felt hopeless, suicidal. This wasn’t because the appointment went badly or anything. On the contrary, both people I spoke with yesterday were kind, compassionate, and understanding. Rather, it was because I was told it could be late December before an appointment for therapy is available. That’s an excruciatingly long wait, especially for someone experiencing the level of suicidal ideation I have been for the past 2 weeks. However, in my overwhelm of being in a new place and having to start over again with a new facility and everything else going on in my life currently with mine and KR’s break up, I failed to mention that I’m experiencing suicidal ideation at a level of risk I haven’t experienced since 2005 or maybe as late as 2007/2008. I don’t know. This symptom is so difficult for me to pinpoint where it begins and ends. Too often, it “feels” so constant, despite knowing in my rational mind that it’s not.

Two weeks ago, I revisited a previous post, On Suicide and Suicidal Thoughts, in an attempt to put into perspective how I felt that night. That particular night I distracted myself from the thoughts and voices by literally “defining” my levels of suicidal risk. It helped. It got me through that evening, and that was the whole point. It helps to know your enemy. By defining my risk factors, I can also identify my triggers, measure and track these types of impulses, and seek out additional support when needed. Believe me when I say, this is very important when experiencing suicidal ideation. The levels of suicide risk are as much on a spectrum as the mental illnesses that cause these voices, thoughts, and/or feelings. I don’t know about anyone else’s range or levels of suicidality; but for me, it looks like this:

  1. Level 1 — No Risk of Suicide — Passive suicidal thoughts pop into my head out of seemingly nowhere. At this level the voices are actually helpful, encouraging me to “Wait it out,” distract myself, talk to someone, write about how I’m feeling, or use whatever creative method I can to prevent the thoughts from gaining control. Here, I can let the thoughts go usually by simply acknowledging them and reminding myself, “These are only thoughts. You don’t need to act on them.” Typically, frustration and lower levels of overwhelm or over-stimulation provoke these thoughts.
  2. Level 2 — Low Level of Suicide Risk — Suicidal thoughts increase in frequency and linger a while longer, yet no suicide plan or intent. Voices begin arguing among each other with most still encouraging and helpful while only a few are expressing discontent and fleeting despair. Still able to prevent ruminating thoughts and/or allow them only minimal expression for short periods of time, but it may take a bit longer to let them go. Higher levels of frustration, overwhelm, or over-stimulation trigger higher levels of suicide risk. At any level the trigger can be either internal or external.
  3. Level 3 — Moderate Level of Suicide Risk — Stronger and more frequent suicidal thoughts that may include a vague plan that isn’t lethal. I consider this to be the “romanticizing” level, where the voices (split right at 50/50 by this point) who are for suicide, glorify death and suicide as an act of great bravery while those against it are losing patience and compassion for those in pain, thus there’s A LOT of arguing going on inside my head. This is when I’m at greatest risk of using alcohol or marijuana in an attempt to “control” the voices, my mood, paranoia, and my level of distress.
  4. Level 4 — High Level of Suicide Risk — Obsessive, intrusive suicidal thoughts and thoughts about death, in general, are strong, frequent, and compulsive. Actively planning and researching methods of suicide with specific plans that are highly lethal. It’s rare at this level for me to focus on one single method. Indecision is a saving grace at this level of distress. Vivid imaginings of killing myself in a variety of ways. Aggressive voices bully me into submission and silence, preventing me from being honest with others about how I’m feeling due to severe paranoia. PTSD triggers can result in a jump from Level 1 to Level 4 with no warning. Non-lethal self-harm and suicidal gestures are at greater risk here, as well as a lower level increase in impulsiveness.
  5. Level 5 — Severe Level of Suicide Risk — Specific plan that is highly lethal with the means to do so, a time-frame in mind or high level of impulsivity (my greatest risk factor), and actual intention and determination to kill myself. Highly aggressive, loud voices that drown out any protesting voices. These are as constant as the ruminating thoughts of suicide and death. Let me reiterate: impulsive self-harm behavior can easily result in an impulsive attempt to take my life as the “will” to live is gone. Paranoia, distress, despair, and hopelessness are extremely high.

If you are feeling suicidal, please, call: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or call a loved one or visit My Mental Health Toolkit for a list of tips and tricks that I use to help me de-stress and self soothe.

I’ve coped with suicidal ideation for more than half my life. Usually, I feel confident in my ability to manage this aspect of my mental health because I’ve had so much practice at managing my symptoms without any real emotional support system; but these past couple of weeks tested my will to survive as my level of suicide risk increased due to external stressors and internal triggers. These past couple of months have literally been one trigger after another, creating the perfect storm of circumstances and symptoms that make it feel like I’m reliving bits and pieces of my past in quick succession. It’s a frightening place to be. I wouldn’t wish this hell on anyone. Ever.

I keep telling myself I’ve already lived through all of this several times over — being discharged from treatment, starting over at a new facility, the storm of symptoms, the break-up, homelessness, all of it — and survived each one. I can do it again. It sucks, sure; but I survived.

Yesterday, I don’t think I managed to convey how dire my current situation is to either the intake counselor or the case manager with whom I spoke. The first phone call I made today was to the case manager who had told me to call with any questions or concerns I had. I thought of several and wrote them out before finally making myself call. First, I changed my mind about the psychiatric evaluation. I may need the support of a psychiatrist given the severity of symptoms I’m experiencing and considering how long it’s been since I’ve felt any relief from these symptoms. Words fail me in expressing the fear I’m facing in even acknowledging that this is the case, let alone the possibility of accepting that medication might be needed. I said I would talk with a psychiatrist. I can make that decision whether or not to take medication later. It may also take a while before I get an appointment for that, but I agreed to it.

I also made myself tell her how I’ve been feeling, about the severity of suicidal ideation. Maybe just admitting that to another person is enough. I don’t know; but I promised her (and myself) that I would continue reaching out whenever these voices, thoughts, and feelings become too much to handle on my own — like I’ve already been doing during these past 2 weeks.

We spoke briefly again about housing as well as my need to find employment before that can even be an option. I told her I called Vocational Rehabilitation last week, leaving a voicemail for the person I was told to speak to, but no one ever returned my call. Housing and employment, both, feel so overwhelming right now that they’re causing a lot of the flashbacks (to prior employment and homeless experiences) and suicidal despair, making it nearly impossible for me to accomplish anything with regard to either. I’m limiting any online searches for employment to brief, half-hour increments of time to try to avoid a lot of that; but it’s a HUGE challenge and an obstacle I have to overcome to reenter the workforce.

I also agreed to undergo a complete physical to rule out any physical causes for my symptoms, which brings me to my second important phone call and accomplishment of the day. I called the health department to schedule that physical. It’s this Thursday. I have two days to mentally prepare myself for that. I’ve been to the health department twice before; so it’s not a new place, which takes away some of that anxiety — not all but some. I don’t like to be touched, especially not by strangers. Doctor visits are particularly vulnerable situations, especially considering everything a “female exam” entails. No doubt I’ll leave the health department in that same dissociated state as the first two times I went, but I’ll go and get it over with nevertheless. This time, I plan on writing out a list of symptoms that have been bothering me, like the increased joint pain and chronic fatigue that have prevented me from taking my usual hikes for so many months, now. In the past when I’ve brought these things up, no one took me seriously. I really need someone to listen for a change rather than telling me, “It’s all in your head.”

These two phone calls may not sound like much of an accomplishment to most people. For me, though, they’re a big deal.

I began writing out this post at 5 pm. It’s now after 10 pm as I finish this up. My concentration and focus just aren’t there anymore. I struggle daily in every aspect of my life. The fact that I can’t even imagine a future, let alone prepare for it, makes my situation feel hopeless and out of control. There’s no doubt in my mind that A LOT of people are struggling to survive these days. The mental healthcare system wouldn’t be so overwhelmed if that wasn’t true. I don’t know what my future holds for me, and most days I don’t even care; but for the first time in 11 years, I don’t feel like I have to –prove- I’m struggling to cope. And that’s enough to get me through tonight.

If you are feeling suicidal, please, call: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). What you are experiencing, what you are feeling does not have to be fatal. Please, seek help. I know, easier said than done. If you find that you cannot call, wait it out, just wait it out.


Alone Again, Naturally

While on my Facebook profile this afternoon, I noticed my relationship status looked different. KR’s photo wasn’t attached in the little square beside my status, neither was his name. Confused, I checked his profile and saw this:

Imagine finding out your relationship is “officially” over in this manner. I had, at least, some level of awareness that our relationship is over due to conversations over the last week; but until I saw his “Relationship Status” today, it didn’t feel “real.” Eleven years of devotion, loyalty, faithfulness, commitment, and love (at least, on my part) and 17 years of friendship casually thrown away with the simple change of a status update. I feel like I’m in shock. Even the voices in my head are 95% silent at the moment. It’s an eerie silence given their higher than normal level of activity and considering some have been obnoxiously screaming at me for weeks. These past few weeks have been rough, like suicidal risk Level 4 rough. I’ve coped to the best of my ability; but I remain frozen in fear, unable to remain “present” or focus on anything long enough to find a solution to my present dilemma.

This all started a couple of weeks ago on 9/11. It finally came to a head on 9/17 when KR finally had his meltdown in his usual raging alcoholic mindset of “How dare you deny me of my needs!” He was due for a meltdown, so I was somewhat expecting it, just not so soon. I was guessing the middle to end of October given his usual tendency to become enraged closer to his birthday. For the next week, he behaved like nothing happened which is pretty much the norm until his next blow up; however, he did suggest that we seek couples counseling which gave me hope that he still wanted to work things out.

Things only got worse over this last weekend. On Saturday, 9/24, KR made it very clear that our relationship is over. He told me our sexual differences are too much. He said neither of us are at fault for this but he needs his freedom to basically have sex with whomever he pleases and explore his sexual fantasies with others since I’m unwilling to “compromise.” He said he doesn’t want to be seen as a “cheater.” Afterward, he left to go overnight camping with his work buddy who is also having marital problems. Seriously, I think they’re fueling each other’s misery like men so often do.

Early Monday morning around 4:00 am and after he had already drank several shots of Tequila (he was still so drunk after he woke up that he had to call out of work), he reiterated all of this, telling me about their camping trip where they met up with a couple of women they work with to share an evening of “hanging out without the pressures of a relationship.” He talked more about his past affairs (which he still claims were mostly one night stands), but he admitted that these have been going on since the beginning of our relationship — so the entire 11 years we’ve been together. I was stupid enough to stay with him after he told me about a couple of these in October 2015, only after one of these women contacted him about contracting an STD.

Why did I stay?

At that time he told me he wanted to work things out, and I was terrified of being homeless again. I was and still am financially destitute. I’ve spent the last 2 years since his first admission of this in mostly a dissociative state, disconnected from him and everything around me. Fear of the unknown, fear of being homeless, fear of my own suicidal tendencies when I feel this overwhelmed forced me to stay.

These are the same fears I’m facing today in addition to a state of confusion that feels new. This level of dysfunction is comparable to what I experienced in 2005. My mind feels like a jumbled mess. I can’t think straight. I don’t know how to put “this” into words.

I really don’t.

He said he wasn’t going to be a dick about it and kick me out, that he would help me however he could; but I have to get out — the sooner, the better. I have no choice but to make an attempt to try working again if I can actually find someone willing to hire me after a 12 year absence from the work force and willing to somehow accommodate the severity of my illness. I called Vocational Rehabilitation this past week and left a voicemail with the person I was told to speak with, but no one called back. So many phone calls and pleas for help lately have gone unanswered and ignored that I’m beginning to believe that I’m supposed to die by suicide.

Wait it out, just wait it out.

Everything feels hopeless right now, and I’m fighting that familiar dissociation that prevents me from doing anything. Like so many times before in my life, history is repeating itself. This feels like a flashback — a really bad flashback; and this time I have no strength left to fight for my life. I wasted all the strength and energy I had left in this last attempt at finding supportive mental health treatment. I’ve got nothing left. Since I was discharged from treatment, I don’t even have that support system to help me through this. I screwed that up like I do everything else.

I do have an appointment on Monday with another facility, but I feel so lost at this point that I don’t think anyone can help me. I’m worried about this weekend. I’m so exhausted. I’m so tired of the pressure. I’m so tired of fighting to survive. I’ve called and texted with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and other crisis lines more times this past couple of weeks than I have in a very long time. We’re told to “reach out for help” when in crisis. Why does actually getting help have to be so difficult? It’s no wonder so many people die in this way.


I’m experiencing a hard shut down, triggered by vulnerability. “Vulnerability refers to the inability (of a system or a unit) to withstand the effects of a hostile environment.” [Source: Wikipedia.] I recognize my vulnerabilities as triggers for dissociation, panic attacks, flashbacks and nightmares, or any other symptom of anxiety, depression, or PTSD. My triggers for the defense mechanisms that serve to protect me are these vulnerabilities:

  • Specific Trigger Dates:
    • January 11th — date my divorce became final
    • January 15th — my dad’s birthday
    • March 1st — my oldest son’s birthday
    • April 11th/12th — date of first rape
    • April 14th — the day my dad died
    • April 27th — my youngest son’s birthday; memories associated with giving him up for adoption
    • August 11th — date of second rape
    • 9/11 — the day we, as a nation, were traumatized
    • December 3rd — marriage anniversary
  • Suicide Attempts (Possible trigger dates):
    1. August 9, 1996
    2. April 12, 1998
    3. October 14, 1998
    4. December 4, 2004
  • Holidays that I recognize as being triggering:
    • Easter
    • Mother’s Day
    • My birthday
    • Thanksgiving
    • Christmas
  • Certain strong emotions, e.g. rage, grief, terror, contempt, disappointment, despair, hopelessness, disrespect, humiliation, frustration, overwhelm, shame, confusion, and shock.
  • Confrontation, arguments, fighting.
  • Harsh or negative criticism and judgement by others, feeling persecuted.
  • Acts of aggression and violence (hostility). I’m horribly sensitive to media coverage that is gruesome or hateful or violent, etc. Coverage of stories regarding rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, or even sexual harassment can be triggering for me.
  • Exhaustion — whether it’s physical, emotional, mental, or all of the above.
  • Feeling exposed, out in the open, insecure paranoia.
  • Injustice. Feeling taken advantage of or inequality.
  • Abandonment.
  • Rejection.
  • Loss of safety or insecure environment. Threat of homelessness, starvation, or abuse make me catatonic, totally checked out.
  • Feeling misunderstood, unheard, or not believed.
  • Lack of consistency, routine, or structure in my daily life.
  • Change — big or small, I don’t do well with change.
  • Healthcare — mental health or physical health, either one. I still, to this day, have “institutional” type nightmares; and I never stayed at any psychiatric facility for more than one month. I have no faith left in the medical community, no faith in our doctors to actually listen, hear what they’re being told, and understand that I know my body better than they ever will given the brevity of time spent with patients. I have no patience left for psychiatry. I’m right there on that cliff of anti-psychiatry, ready to jump off. I don’t even have any trust left to give to another counselor or therapist. I have absolutely no cause to believe that corporations (pharmaceutical, healthcare related and insurance related) will grow a conscience and do what is “right” for the American people. And absolutely NO confidence in our government to protect us from their predatory greed.
  • Sex — everything about sex is triggering for me, everything. Some sexual acts are more triggering, like oral sex or anal sex (I would rather be tarred and feathered than do either); but even straight-up, vanilla, missionary position sex can cause hyperventilation or dissociation during sexual encounters with my boyfriend unless I focus on my breathing to control the physical and emotional pain I feel (and I mean, really focus on breathing, consciously aware, mindful breathing). The physical pain I feel during and after intercourse is almost as bad as the emotional baggage that prevents me from enjoying it, and sometimes that physical pain lasts for days afterward. It’s not just the actual sexual acts that are triggering for me, but also the pressure I feel to “perform” or fulfill KR’s needs. Any sexual touching triggers my startle reflex even on a good day. Waking up to KR snuggling or touching me in this way is a huge trigger! I can’t watch porn because it disgusts me to the point of dry heaving. I can’t even allow myself to feel “sexy” because in my mind, that would warrant sexual attention that I do not want. Sex was a huge issue for me long before the rapes, from the moment I lost my virginity. The rapes, sexual assaults, and sexual harassment I’ve endured throughout my adult life only further complicated this matter.*

*UPDATE: I plan to continue updating this list of triggers. I’m only now, after 23 years of on-and-off-again-therapy, beginning to recognize what triggers me.


The Requiem

Maybe I indulged an unhealthy obsession today or maybe it’s a process of grieving a loss. Either way, the result was a form of obscure poetry that speaks to the pain so many of us feel in the wake of one more light going out in the sky of a million stars. Linkin Park’s music got me through many a dark night when my own suicidal urges were at their worst from 2002 through 2005. Chester Bennington will be missed greatly. My most sincere condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

Linkin Park Playlist Includes:

Valentine’s Day
The Radiance
Skin to Bone
Lies Greed Misery
Lying from You
The Catalyst
What I’ve Done
Guilty All the Same
In Between
Castle of Glass
Burn It Down
Burning in the Skies
When They Come for Me
Empty Spaces
From the Inside
Battle Symphony
In Pieces
Roads Untraveled
Leave Out All the Rest
Somewhere I Belong
A Place for My Head
One More Light
Wisdom, Justice, and Love
Until It’s Gone
Points of Authority
Wretches and Kings
Hands Held High
The Summoning
Robot Boy
With You
The Little Things Give You
Shadow of the Day
The Messenger
Keys to the Kingdom
Halfway Right
Breaking the Habit
Until It Breaks
Cure for the Itch
Lost in the Echo
Figure 09
A Light That Never Comes
Pushing Me Away
Talking to Myself
Nobody’s Listening
By Myself
Easier to Run
All for Nothing
One Step Closer
Nobody Can Save Me
A Line in the Sand
Final Masquerade
In the End
Given Up
Don’t Stay
I’ll Be Gone
Good Goodbye
Sharp Edges
Bleed It Out
Hit the Floor
Waiting for the End
No More Sorrow
In My Remains
Mark the Graves
The Requiem
Sorry for Now

If you are feeling suicidalplease, call: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). What you are experiencing, what you are feeling does not have to be fatal. Please, seek help. I know, easier said than done. If you find that you cannot call, wait it out, just wait it out.

The Clothesline Project

Today was an interesting day. As I looked through my Facebook feed, I noticed a post made by Genesis House about an event going on at Tennessee Tech University called the Clothesline Project. After calling for more information, I made the spontaneously impulsive decision to drive to Cookeville to check it out.

I remember hearing something about this last year but didn’t go at that time. Today, however, I was determined.

I went. I walked around looking at so many people’s contributions to the project and chose to make a T-shirt of my own. My hands were shaking the entire time I worked on my shirt. I drank 2 cups of water in the short time I was there as my nervousness tends to manifest in dry mouth and thirst. A nice lady from Tennessee Tech’s Women’s Center provided the second cup and a couple of brownie bites. This made me smile and eased my mind a little. In fact, everyone there was so supportive and encouraging.

Despite my horrible anxiety and nervousness, I think my shirt turned out pretty well:

It felt good to participate. My only regret is that I wasn’t finished with my T-shirt in time to participate in the “Take Back the Night” march around campus. Still, I’m proud of myself for having gone there, for handling the triggers so well, and for making my own voice heard. I’m proud of myself because I pushed myself outside my comfort zone to participate in this.

This was a special and meaningful day for me — very therapeutic.

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Great Smoky Mountains

This past week has been brutal. The wildfires in the Gatlinburg area triggered that sense of helplessness and despair I so often find myself in. I grew up just outside Sevier County. I spent most of my childhood and teens frequenting the many tourist attractions of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and the Smoky Mountains. So many of my happiest memories are attached to one place or another there as is the case for most of us who grew up in East Tennessee. I worked 2 seasons at Dollywood after graduating high school and again briefly in ’98 — my favorite job of the many I’ve held. I have a strong attachment to that area.

It’s home.

My heart and soul belong to the Smoky Mountains. As a child, I spent many a summer day swinging on my front porch in the foothills of the Smokies, gazing at those beloved mountains off in the distance. That’s where I learned to meditate, though I had no name for this practice back then. The Smoky Mountains taught me to simply “be” and savor my natural surroundings. It may sound silly to those who have never experienced the “spirit” of a place, but those mountains are truly alive. Still to this day, they take my breath away and fill me with peace whenever I return to them, like a mother nurturing her child.

That’s why these wildfires hurt so much. I’ve cried more tears this week — unstoppable, heartbroken tears as I watched a fiery inferno threaten all that I hold dear. “It could have been much worse.” I keep telling myself that, but it does little to assuage the devastation I feel. The only thing that has helped my sadness at all is seeing communities come together all over the state raising money and donations to help with relief efforts. These acts of kindness restore at least some small measure of faith in humanity to do the “right” thing.

As of writing this:

  • The death toll is at 13 people.
  • 15,653 acres were affected by the fires.
  • “1,000 structures were either damaged or destroyed by the fires.”
  • “4,871 people remain without power in Sevier County” as of 8:15 pm last night.

[Source: “Fire death count remains at 13; searches winding down.” WBIR, 2016. 02 Dec. 2016.]

I can’t even imagine the devastation to the wildlife population without immediately falling into a panic and more tears.

The Sevier County community relies on the tourism industry. These fires could have devastating consequences for many people in that area, especially those who lost their homes. At this time, monetary donations would go farther than anything else. Please, consider giving what you can: American Red Cross.

I’m not giving up and neither should you.

I, quite seriously, feel like I’m losing my mind. I’m back to questioning whether I’m alive or dead. Nothing feels real, so I’m going with the latter. What if I’m the only person who knows we’re all dead and trying to work out our past life’s traumas? All of this talk of moving on is meant to push us into the next life — reincarnate to try again in a never-ending cycle of life and death.

I’m really struggling right now.

I feel like I don’t belong here, like an alien stranded on some strange — very disturbing — planet that’s about to veer off course into its sun. Half the population is creating hell while the other half of us are simply trying to connect the dots, prove there’s a better way to deal with suffering. Progress based in love and compassion is our only way forward. Hate and exclusion moves us backward to repeat past mistakes over and over again. Everything seems so black and white, good or evil, positive or negative. Polar opposites. The balance is teetering on the brink of destruction and each side keeps rocking the boat.

Chaos is winning.

I feel lost. I feel like nothing more than an observer, silenced by overwhelm, suffocating from too many triggers, buried alive under so much hate. I’m “out of my mind.” I feel like I’m experiencing all of this out of my body, lost and untethered, with no desire to bother coming back. Content to watch the world crash and burn, taking my soul with it, I mourn for our planet as much as myself as even she has lost the will to live.

The rape of our planet’s resources is the perfect metaphor for the crushing disappointment in humanity to defend and honor the female population.

What chance do women have in a barbaric patriarchy that treats us like objects to be used for their sick and twisted amusement?

This election and its aftermath left me in a state of shock and dismay. To say I’m disappointed in its outcome would be the understatement of the year. I find myself fighting dissociation, that familiar numb disconnect fueled by a desperation to survive the suicidal ideation triggered by the events of the past few weeks. I’ve had nightmares for at least the last 3 nights in a row. The flashbacks are intense, invasive and graphic memories causing severe panic. KR, trying to be helpful, took me to buy pepper spray. It was a sweet gesture; but knowing my freeze response when I feel threatened, I would never get the chance to use it.

In response to a comment someone left on a link I shared on Facebook, I wrote:

As a direct result of Trump’s language throughout his campaign and that leaked video, every time I see that man’s face come across my news feed or hear another ignorant thing he says, I feel triggered. I know, that’s *my* problem to deal with; and I’m coping to the best of my ability. However, I associate Trump’s face with every man who ever sexually harassed me, with every man who ever sexually assaulted me (grabbed or otherwise touched me inappropriately), and with the men who raped me.

THAT is what Trump represents for me. Half of the voters in this country validated his words and actions JUST by voting for him. I accept the fact that Trump won this election, but acceptance does NOT mean I have to tolerate his hate speech. Acceptance does NOT mean I condone his behavior or validate his twisted beliefs. Acceptance is NOT approval.

What I’m feeling isn’t “fear.” It’s disgust — not just for Trump but also for the 47% of Americans who voted for him, who condone the behavior of a bully and sexual predator. Disgust and contempt.

And that is what all of this boils down to. I’m not usually so open about my private struggles under my “real” identity. I was taught from an early age not to burden others with my problems, especially not family; but this election sparked an unbridled rage within me to speak out that I’ve never felt before. I broke down after writing that response.

I called RAINN’s support line for, ya know, support. I was transferred to an organization out of Murfreesboro, TN. I told the woman who answered, “I think I need to talk to someone.” She seemed annoyed when I gave my reason for calling. I immediately regretted having reached out to a total stranger for help. I thought, “I must be wasting her time over an issue that took place over 18 years ago.” I felt weak for allowing the political climate to trigger such a strong response within me. She took my name and phone number and said someone would call me back.

I’m still waiting 4 days later to “talk” to someone.

could have called any other crisis line; but I chose RAINN because I thought, “They’re trained specifically to deal with issues of this nature.” Right?

I never wanted to be a part of Trump’s reality, but I am. I have been for a long time. Men, who think they can grab a woman’s private parts because… they can? Consent means nothing to a sexual predator. It was bad enough that someone running for our highest office here in the US bragged about this type of behavior, but for that same man to actually become President of the United States?!

It’s not just a slap in the face to anyone victimized in this way. It’s like being sexually assaulted and raped all over again.

No. I’m not okay.

A lot of women are struggling today with these same emotions and triggers as a result of this election. Know that you’re not alone. I know from experience, too often it feels that way. I’m still searching for the emotional support and connection to people who understand what I’ve been through, but…

I’m not giving up and neither should you.