I am at a point in my life where I am trying to live in the moment. Working through and reliving the experience that I have for so long hidden away. I have tried to reject or push away because of the fear of emotions and the memories they bring to the surface. I am trying to accept that the rape was not my fault. I am trying to work through the emotions, pain, fear, hurt, self-rejection, shame and guilt I have been living and suffering in silence for far too long.
I am coming out of my shell a little more. Learning to love, accept and in the same breath let go of my perception and body image. Slowly, I am learning to let go of my rejection of dresses and skirts as they are a constant reminder of my rape. The reality is that my mind has forgotten some of the details but the body doesn’t forget. The feelings remain present and I am fighting my trauma every day.
I am learning to let go of the trauma and all that it came with. Trauma changes how you view your life and yourself. It shatters your most basic assumption about yourself and your world. Trauma has made me doubt everything and everyone. It has made me have trust issues. Trauma has made me lose my faith so many times. Trauma has pushed me into a corner that I have told myself is safe, a space where no one can hurt me. A space where stress, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts were my daily companions. Anything foreign feels like an invasion of my space, hence at times, I hold back but yet again, I am willing to work through the process of letting go.
I know that I am very good at hiding and pretending that all is well with me, while at the same time I am battling suicidal thoughts. I have carried my trauma with so much confidence and happiness that no one could pick up that I was suffering in silence. Dealing with trauma makes you feel strong and teaches you how to be there for others yet not allowing anyone to be there for you.
Trauma is one of the root cause of depression, mental illnesses and suicide. Trauma in itself is caused by a traumatic event, an experience and challenge that people are faced with daily. Incomplete healing and support, as well as a lack of safe and non-judgmental spaces for people to seek help, is what is forcing people to take their lives. ‘’People don’t commit suicide because of a desire to die but rather in an attempt to escape a bad situation or painful feelings, the sad reality is that suicide is permanent.’’
What we then need to do is create safe space in our homes first and expand them to society for people to trust us enough to open up, seek help rather than suffering in silence.
We need to educate ourselves on how we can be there for others and how we can pick up on the signs when people are suffering, mentally or emotionally. Even the ones that seem the happiest as they are known to carry the heaviest weight and wear their trauma with so much confidence while at the same time battling with suicidal thoughts.
Suicide is an epidemic on the rise and it is not only the responsibility of higher institutions or the government to solve it. We have an epidemic on our hands and we need to start talking and taking actions as individuals.
I am alive today because we were taught at Sunday school that taking your own life is the shortest way to hell. Thank God I believed that and now I am not a statistic. I am still alive today because someone created a safe space for me to open up and get help. If that act could save me then surely it can save many other young people. Let’s keep in mind that people don’t heal in isolation but in a community where trauma, depression and mental illness is validated.
Contributed by: Tuwilika Elias (Clinical Psychology Graduate)