The mind is an interesting tool. It has been proven, that if, after a coma, you were told that you were a marine in your life, your mind will fully convince itself that this is true. You may stand up straighter, wake up earlier, or simply appreciate your country and those who give their lives to save others in a way you hadn’t before. This being said, if the mind convinces a person that they are worthless, every single moment, of every single day, this is how they will feel. I know this because I felt worthless.
There comes a time when people get tired. There comes a time when life no longer matters, and death toys with the mind, much like a joker in a fun house you could find at a broken down carnival. There comes a time, when all you want to do is give up…so you do.
I was sexually harassed from the start of my seventh grade year to the end of my eighth. This boy would text me for 10 hours a day after school. He would describe how he wanted to touch me, how he would make love to me, and he would send pictures of himself without clothing. He gave me a type of attention that I craved; yet when he was with me, he did not talk. We were strangers in school, and on the phone he would talk to me in the most personal way possible.
The worst part was that this boy, this abuser, was my best friend growing up. Many people don’t take this type of harassment seriously; so let me tell you what makes it so bad. In today’s society, if you aren’t connected to the Internet in someway, you are a “loser.” So what does this mean for rape victims over technology? This means that every single second of the day you are connected to that person who harassed you. He had my emails, he had my social media accounts, he had my cell phone number, he could ask anyone if I was active online, and when I blocked him on one site, he would move on to the next. Everyday, 24/7, he was connected to me even though in everyone else’s perspective, we didn’t know about each other’s existence. This boy was someone I was forced to see every day, and the first boy to tell me that he loved me. He turned me into a girl I did not want to be. My grades were on a downward spiral, I gained weight, and I lost all, if any, confidence I had in myself.
Freshman year of high school started and though I was finally away from him, I still felt like I was broken.
I was a stranger within my own body, and I had no control.
I began to self-harm. Cutting my body was the one thing that I could control. Each night, I could control the amount of pain I would feel, I could make the blade run across my skin quickly, or drag it out. It was unlike all the harm inflicted upon me because it was pain I created myself. Soon after I started, this control was lost. It became an addiction. Each morning, I would wake up with new cuts and realize that I again was hiding a secret that was harmful. At the end of the year, everything was exposed. My parents knew about the rape, the depression, the self-harming, and most of all, that I had been suffering in silence.
I remember crying into my mother’s arms telling her that I wanted to die. Now, I am not a mother. I do not want to have children, and I cannot even begin to fathom what she felt when she heard her own daughter telling her that she wanted to die. What I do know, is at that moment, I didn’t care about anything other than the reel of photos streaming through my mind of all the people I would be disappointing, most importantly, what my best friend, Jasmine, would think of me.
I have known Jasmine for years, and she has her own fair share of struggles, but she truly is the strongest person I know. She fights every battle on her own and will do anything to make others happy. I have always felt that she deserves the best, and if I ever felt that I wasn’t what was best for her, I wouldn’t be able to maintain that friendship. I fought for Jasmine that night. I fought for our friendship.
I began seeing a therapist that summer. I started taking medications, but still felt that something was missing. My psychiatrist diagnosed me with Attention Deficit Disorder. Within an hour of taking medicine for the illness, I saw a difference. Life seemed easier. I got involved in a romantic relationship, my grades improved, life at home was peaceful, and I felt hopeful.
I thought that this was the missing piece of the puzzle, I had finally had a healthy control of my life, but, as they say, nothing good can stay. Nothing is perfect. My boyfriend and I broke up, my grades fell, and I was anxious all the time. The issue, as I would later learn, was my medication.
On Valentine’s Day of 2016, I had my first panic attack. To this day, I do not know what caused it. It could be the medication, it could be the fact that I was overtired, it could have been the combination of my medicine with the caffeine from my coffee, or it could have been triggered by the movie we were watching. Each year on Valentine’s Day, my family and I watch a horror movie instead of a romance. The tradition began the year after my rape, after I had fully convinced myself that love did not exist.
I think love is whatever you make of it, and what you think you deserve, so if you do not put effort into either of these key factors, love could mean nothing to you. But as I was scrolling through my phone looking at picture someone had posted, I suddenly started violently shaking and I fell to the floor. The world around me went black and my lungs felt like they were being crushed. This attack lasted for about four hours, and the ambulance remained in my driveway, lights flashing, late into the night.
The scariest part, for me, was realizing that I could die. If I did not breathe, my life would have ended, given that I was not helped in time. This was the moment I knew that I wanted to live. My parents were so scared, but they were the people who truly saved me.
My medications were changed, and since then, I’ve learned so much. There are days where I still think of my rapist. My stomach turns when I see a picture of him, or hear his name. I could have brought the matter to the police, but I didn’t want to see him again, and that’s okay. I feel safe. I am now a member of the National Team for Greenwood Swimming and the National Honors Society, and I am happy. I have goals, aspirations for myself to accomplish, and I have learned how to live with my mental illnesses.
I still see a therapist, and struggle with my grades, but I have made progress. I have parents that support me, and a best friend that has been by my side through it all. Jasmine is dealing with things I would not wish on anyone. She still continues to be the strong girl I know her to be, and she is positive. If there’s anything I would want her to know, it’s that she is undoubtedly my very best friend, and that I love her more than I do any other.
So I fight for Jasmine. I hope that you ask yourself, “What or who do you fight for?” And you, too, can find peace.
This submission comes from Anabel Szydlik. If you have any questions for her feel free to send her an email at aaszydlik(at)gmail.com or leave a comment here! You can also find her on Instagram here.
Always remember you are not alone.
You are loved.
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