Over the course of my life, I have been an unwilling participant in many scenarios that have both traumatised and impacted my life significantly. I have never spoken about many of them and doubt I ever will. It wasn't until a recent event started to trigger many of my old nightmares that I turned to a girlfriend who has survived similar life events for help. I am forever grateful for her support, words, and help, even the bits I didn't want to hear. She has recently begun to advocate for survivors of abuse and rape and is starting to share her voice with the world, something which I am incredibly proud of her for.
I know how excruciating this piece she has written would have been to pen. Speaking out, whilst seemingly easy for some, is ridiculously hard when placed in a similar scenario.
For me, it took a professional telling me that I was in fact NOT crazy, or making it up, nor was I mis-interpreting situations, that in fact I had been abused. For her, It was a professional telling her she had in fact been raped. The level of covering up on both accounts by the other parties was so vile. What is worse, is knowing the perpetrators have done it before and are still repeating their behaviours and will until more people report it and they are stopped.
So when I read this next piece it made me sick to my stomach. My skin crawled knowing what this is like and it was difficult to read. It sent memories, experiences and emotions flooding back, but I'm grateful they've been created. As a survivor, our voices need to be shared and heard so that others may find the courage to seek help, speak out or find solace knowing there is a community of survivors and they're not alone.
Without any further introduction, I'm honoured to share with you my best friend, Beck and her piece entitled; "Anxiety".
"Anxiety" by Beck.
I don’t know if it starts slowly and creeps up on me, or if it is like a switch and goes from nothing to everything in a split second. All I know is that one minute I think I am OK, and the next I’m deep in it.
My brain is so full of thoughts it is frozen, solid as a rock, like an overloaded PC, crashing just before you hit save.
The blood drains from my extremities, it drains from my head, my neck, my shoulders so fast, like someone pulling the plug in the bath, it drains so quickly that it swirls away, leaving me faint and dizzy.
My skin may be white as snow from the lack of blood, but it is the light sheen of sweat covering my body that really makes me look like a snow man, frozen still.
My body is paralysed, I forget how to move, and sometimes even how-to breath, that part of my brain was frozen in the crash.
My heart tries to keep my body going, pumping hard and fast to get the blood flowing again. But it’s all in vain, there must be leaks in the system, as the blood just can’t get through.
Frozen still, in the chaos of my mind, while the world around me rises up, like the high tide created by an offshore earthquake. I’m not floating, my feet are nailed to the floor, I’m unable to move, frozen still, as the water of life rises higher and higher.
So far, the water hasn’t gotten to my face, it’s gotten close. It’s lapped at my chin a few times, but I have been able to speak, somehow finding my voice in the madness to whisper for help.
What triggered it? I’m not always sure, sometimes it’s something trivial, sometimes it’s nothing at all, sometimes it is perilous situations in which others, also would feel fear.
What caused it?
Living day in day out, in constant fear, from my earliest memories.
Having my earliest memories being, of a “friend” that taught me that what I wanted, thought, felt, needed didn’t matter, that my body wasn’t mine, it was merely a play thing for them to do with as they wanted, to bring pleasure and joy to them. That being an object for another’s pleasure is all that I was, and ever would be.
Putting my blind trust in family, because that is what I was told to do. Waking up Christmas morning, not by the joy and excitement of the magic of the season, but by the hand of a family member running over my body beneath my PJs. That was the first time I felt my body and my mind freeze in fear, but it wouldn’t be the last I felt of the anxiety, or those hands.
Learning to trust in people that I chose to have in my life, as the ones thrust upon me were not worthy of it. Learning to navigate the foreign world of interpersonal relationships without ever having learnt that I was allowed to have boundaries. So, when his words and actions were making me uncomfortable I didn’t know that I didn’t have to put up with it, I didn’t know that it was wrong. So, when we were celebrating Christmas and he decided that my body was his Christmas gift to himself, I didn’t know it was coming, when maybe others in my shoes would have. He was a “friend” someone I trusted, a celebrated “hero” of the community, the golden boy of a local volunteer association. What they didn’t know, and still don’t know, is that he stole my body from me and he doesn’t even think that it was wrong.
My relationship with my body and my mind is complicated, different, abnormal. But how could it not be.
The “people” have gone from my life, I am safe but my body and mind don’t know that.
Anxiety is my constant companion, always there on the lookout for danger, always looking for warning signs. Unfortunately, tinsel, trees, and Christmas cheer are all warning signs to my anxiety. An unfortunate association as I love the idea of Christmas, I love the joy it brings others, I love the idea of the joy it could bring me. Every year I hope that this one will be different, every year the anxiety is there to remind me that I am never safe, that I am never in control, that I will always be powerless. But who knows, maybe next year it will be different.
I am thankful that Becka chose to share her voice. I am thankful she’s still here and still taking each day as it comes, and fighting. It takes a LOT to see her step out of her home some days, but that’s a big part of anxiety and surviving the everyday. Some days are easier than others. You don’t always know how a day will turn out, but persisting and doing it anyway is why she’s my superhero survivor. For her, holidays are hard, and I’m sure they can be for many people for a multitude of reasons, but you need to listen to yourself and get help when you realise you need help. It’s not weak. it’s not being a burden on anyone. It’s not pretending. It’s not any of those excuses or reasons in your mind as to why you can’t. You need to do this for you. Believe me, you’ll thank yourself in time. For help please reach out to:
Lifeline has a national number who can help put you in contact with a crisis service in your state. Anyone across Australia experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide can call 13 11 14.
24 hour national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault. Call toll-free 1800 737 732.
Police and Ambulance
Dial 000 in an emergency and in cases of immediate danger.
Aboriginal Family Domestic Violence Hotline
1800 019 123
1300 659 467
Free counselling 24/7, whether you’re feeling suicidal, are worried about someone else, or have lost someone to suicide.
Supports men and boys who are dealing with family and relationship difficulties. 24/7 telephone and online support an information service for Australian men.
Call 1300 789 978 for help.
Free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25 in Australia. Call 1800 551 800 for help.
For more domestic violence hotlines and information please click here
Julie Clyde is a Creative Artist. Her company, Julie Clyde Creative, leads the charge of brand design internationally for entrepreneurs and creates unique artistic pieces. She is a brand disruptor, public speaker, brand motivator, artist, wife and mum. She's a passionate entrepreneur and sees this variety in her life as the zing for what drives her creativity. Julie's blog series 'Discovery of Self' explores how you can learn to love and accept who you are from the inside out.