From a teen in Serbia: I can’t find currently anyone who could help me, so i decided to take a shot here.
I’ve been through sexual assault by my then boyfriend and it left me traumatized. I’m avoiding absolutely everything that could remind me of it, I muted the words on social media, also stay away from any media, stay away from conversations and people as they could mention something that would remind me of it.
I stopped watching movies because I’m afraid they would mention or show anything done without consent, I’ll really feel upset. When someone touches me I push them away or feel panicked because I think they’re objectifying me or want something from me. I’ve been doing that for a year and i feel broken because I can’t live freely and I’m truly afraid of the world and have so many trust issues.
Whenever I’m reminded of it I feel upset, distress and sometimes have to self harm to calm myself down, although it’s just makes me sad, but i get to move on. But the most usual thing is that I get upset. I do not have the feeling of reliving the trauma again so I don’t know if I have ptsd, but everything else I do have,and I wanted to commit suicide because I can’t seem to get better.
I’m waiting for some kind of money to visit a real life psychotherapist, because I’m upset and sad every day because everything that I used to enjoy is now covered in fear. Is there any way I could calm myself down instead of harming myself? I’m scared of calling the same person who knows about this daily because I feel very guilty. But still i don’t know how to deal with it myself.
I’m so very sorry that you had such an experience. You are right. You were traumatized. Although I can’t give an official diagnosis on the basis of a letter, I do suspect that you are suffering from PTSD. A person does not have to meet every criteria for PTSD that is listed in the diagnostic manuals to be assigned that diagnosis.
When trauma is untreated, it can significantly limit your life and can lead to an almost permanent state of hypervigilance and anxiety and/or depression. It doesn’t surprise me that you’ve considered suicide to get away from the memories and pain. But trauma can be successfully treated. I’m glad you found the inner strength to look for other options for managing your stress and pain.
I’m very glad that you are going to see a therapist. You need more help and support than you can give yourself or than you can expect from a friend. While you wait to be able to afford a therapist, there are a number of ways you can help yourself.
- Try to live your life as normally as you can. Stick to your routines. Treat your body well by eating right and getting some exercise every day. Self-care is the first step to getting back to something like normal.
- Stay away from alcohol and drugs. You didn’t mention that as a problem, but I just want to remind you in case. People are often tempted to try to numb the pain that way but all it does is make it harder to get through.
- Talk to your medical doctor about whether she will prescribe some anti-anxiety medication until you can get to a psychotherapist.
- Consider learning some meditation or relaxation techniques like deep breathing or the Relaxation Response to use when you get upset. It will help you cope by giving you a little relief.
- Try some grounding techniques when you feel stressed. “Grounding” means focusing on something besides whatever is upsetting you. As examples: Make a mental list of all the things around you that are green; Or Identify 3 things in the environment for each of your senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing; Or lose yourself in music you like.
- Read. There are a number of self-help workbooks at bookseller websites. Discipline yourself to spend an hour each day doing the activities in them. Treat that hour as your therapy “appointment” for now.
- If you feel suicidal again or tempted to self-harm: I found the following information about a hotline in Serbia:
- Consider joining one of the forums here at PsychCentral People from all over the world who share issues provide practical help and emotional help for each other. Click on the “Find Help” tab on our homepage. Then click on “forums and support groups” on the dropdown menu.
You made an important first step in contacting us here at PsychCentral. I hope you will find the energy and self-compassion to take some of the steps for self-care while you wait to find a therapist.
At only 19, you have a long life ahead. Do get the treatment you need so you can live that without fear.
I wish you well.