This is the third post in my Support Series – a series of posts that are here to share stories of struggles and how people are overcoming, or have overcome. They are all true stories given to me to use with permission. Some of the posts are from fellow bloggers and will have links provided, and some are from people I know in my daily life.
Today’s story is written by Stephanie and is about her journey of leaving and overcoming an abusive relationship.
Hello, my name is Stephanie and I am a survivor of domestic violence. I spent twelve years of my life that I can never get back with a man who was embarrassed of me, mistreated me and buried my self-worth and self-esteem to depths that, in the moment, I never imagined existed. I was abused from every angle imaginable. He abused me physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, sexually, financially, and technologically. This is where the list stands at the moment until I have another a-ha moment and add it to my list of traceable struggles. I didn’t at first realize what was going on until about seven years into the relationship when we moved in together when every moment of the day became a tightrope walk. I didn’t realize it was the entire twelve years until I was freed and had a lot of alone time to reflect on my broken life.
The results of the abuse didn’t really show until the aftermath of the relationship. I just thought I was in an unfortunate situation and that if I got out of it I would be perfectly fine. This was not the case. After the nightmare ended in 2013 I moved into one of my aunt’s houses because there was no space for me at my parents, plus I wasn’t really thrilled with them at that moment in time. I remember sitting in my make-shift room on a mattress on the floor feeling numb all over. After being with someone for twelve years monitoring your every move, not having that at first didn’t feel relieving. I didn’t want to do anything at all. I went to work, came home, slept, went to work, and came home, slept. I would repeat this process until the weekends which I dreaded. At least during the week when I was at work I had a distraction. On the weekends I was alone with myself.
To cope with my growing depression I turned to wine and eventually honey jack… oh and of course food. After having my entire food intake monitored by someone embarrassed by my weight I ate anything and everything I wanted. I no longer had to worry about forced weigh-ins and forced fasting for a week if I gained a pound. Well, guess what happened when I finally woke up from this numb stupor? I gained 60 pounds! I have been struggling to lose it ever since. So far I managed 35 of it but my body loves to hold onto fat. Sigh.
In December of 2014, I became fed up with my constant crying as a result of my deep depression. I am an easy crier but 2014 was a non-stop waterfall. I decided it was time to find a therapist because I was finding life very difficult to deal with. This proved difficult because every single place I called never picked up the phone nor returned my phone calls. Luckily one day I came across this office with a recording that mentioned walk-in days and walk in I did! I spent the entire intake crying my way through why I was there. They recommended me immediately for therapy and a psychiatrist… meaning they wanted me to talk to someone and take medication. I was not on board with taking medication because I didn’t want to become addicted to anything. They insisted on giving me Lexapro so I insisted they give me a low dosage.
I have been going to therapy now for three years. I started off at once a week and now I am down to once every other week but I am sure I can handle once a month. I have also decided to wean off of my medication because I think I can survive without it. My therapist is amazing and has really helped rewire how I think about myself and life in general. That is not to say I don’t still have bad days but luckily they have been few and far apart. I suffer mostly from anxiety nowadays than I do depression. My therapist has also been with me for my entire relationship with my fiancé whom I met weeks after I began therapy. She has talked me through our first dates right through to the current wedding planning. Without my therapist, I am pretty confident I would have messed the whole thing up with a slew of trust issues and self-paranoia about being a constant fuck-up who is not good enough for anyone. That is what my abuser wanted me to believe and my therapist helped me dispel those thoughts.
Therapy is seriously the best thing I personally could have done. It has really improved my mental health and I cannot recommend it enough. I suppose part of my love for therapy is my amazing therapist. If I had a crappy one I probably wouldn’t have succeeded. In which case, if therapy has failed for you in the past maybe try a different one or a different type of therapy all together? I was speaking with a student the other day that goes to an art therapist. That sounds amazing and I may check out a class one day. I am confident that anything you do that distracts your mind takes you into a meditative state. Art is one of those things. I remember once when I went to a paint and wine place I zoned out the entire time focusing on the task. It is a difficult thing to do; shutting off the noise in your head. I have been trying for three years now and I can honestly say I have gotten better at it even though I still have bad days. Time really does eventually start to heal.
My Support Series is going to run every Monday for the next little while until I run out of people who want to share. If you want to contribute to this series by sharing your own story, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org