Bipolar, Rape Survivor, PTSD. In that order.

In a previous post I wrote about my dread of April 22nd, the anniversary of the first time  was raped.

I know that I was a bipolar child.  A bipolar depression set the stage for that first rape.  I was heart-breakingly vulnerable.  The combination of my own depression and vulnerability with intense familial emotional abuse set me up as a prime target for predators. 

No one in my family noticed that I was depressed, just as they hadn’t noticed that I had anorexia.  I guess they just thought I “looked good,” which is the family code word for “thin.”  Yes, even at 5’1″, 78 lbs is thin.  “Lookin’ good.”

Even if they had noticed my depression, they would only have given me the usual treatment for any kind of aberration: derision and mockery.  They didn’t believe in psychiatry, not for us, even though my mother worked in a psychiatric hospital.  Even if they had taken me to see a doctor I wouldn’t have dared to say anything for fear that my parents would find out and give me hell.

So I came by my PTSD by way of the abuse at home, the initial rape, then running away from home and living pm the streets,  more rapes, more PTSD, untreated bipolar… But I didn’t die.  I fought my way back.  I haven’t won the war yet, but I’ve won a lot of battles, and with G-d’s help I hope to win more and more.

By the way: if you happen to know my family, I thank you to watch my back.   Don’t go to them and say, oh guess what I just read….

Writing that last paragraph just jogged my consciousness to notice how difficult it is for me to let go and trust. When we write a blog post, it’s like an offering to the world, a butterfly that flutters up from the palm of your hand into the breeze. There’s no telling who willreceive it, or what their reaction will be. It takes a certain measure of chutzpah to publish these extremely personal reflections publicly, as all of us in this particular mental health blogging community do.

Nevertheless, even as I sit here in this coffer shop I’m aware of every door. I’m sitting where I can see all of them at once. I didn’t do that consciously. It’s burned into my neurology. At the same time I’m watching the man who just came in and sat down at the table to my right with my peripheral vision. He is directly between me and a rear exit. My breathing is constricted. After I finish this post I will move so that he is no longer in my field of vision. He is paying the table in time to the bubble gum music overhead. He chews whatever he is eating loudly. Space invader.

Time for me to move my act somewhere more safe.

Copyright 2012 Laura P. Schulman all rights reserved

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  1. I so admire your ability to write about the most intimate,painful experiences with such courage and clarity. I have sat in coffee shops many times and never felt the slightest bit unsafe. You cope so well with so well with so much.

    • Thank you, Nicholas. To tell you the truth, I don’t know any different life, so for me this kind of feeling is normal. It’s only very recently that through therapy and blogging I’ve been able to capture the feelings and put words to them
      Be well,

  2. Best Laura,

    ♥ P

  3. You’re right, it’s so difficult to share this and know it is publicly accessed (for those of us who have our blogs public), but it can also be liberating.

    • True. Sometimes I allow myself to feel a bit smug about putting it all out there. It’s kind of an antidote to the original shame of the events themselves. I am working on the question of whether to go entirely public under my own name with the really horrible parts of the story, or whether to do it under a pseudonym. What do you think?

      • It’s easy for me to say,but I think using your own name helps to counteract the element of shame you mention.

      • I think “puncturerepairkitni” makes a really good point.

        I wouldn’t know what to tell you though. I guess, it’s comes down to your ultimate goals for writing. I can be a very reserved person, so I personally find it intimidating, hence me not using my real or full name on this blog (though PAZ is my initials). But I do say this, the more you reveal, the more liberation you can get.

        You’re strong and wise. 🙂

  4. PAZ, my ultimate goal in writing is to tell my story, perhaps to give a grain of hope to someone who needs to read exactly that right now; and for myself, to open the abcess that is the wall of silence, the myth of my life.

    My greatest fear is that my family would “find out” that I am writing this stuff. And that is exactly the pathology that needs to see the light of day. The fear of reprisal, of denial, of punishment for telling the truth, for opening the closet door and letting the skeletons out.

    I’m not sure I’m brave enough for that, to tell you the truth.


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