- It hurts knowing that I form part of a statistic in my country of the women who have faced a form of gender-based violence.
- It hurts knowing that my assailant walks freely, while society decides to look away at his actions.
- It hurts knowing that when I speak about my mental health, I risk being written off as ‘unworthy’, ‘incapable’ and ‘unstable’.
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Three months ago, I turned 26. I usually don’t celebrate my birthday; I always treat it like a normal day.
I am the type of person who believes that we should only celebrate when there is something meaningful.
However, this year, I felt utter disgust on my birthday. It did not make sense that I was turning one year older and my life had no meaning. There was absolutely nothing to celebrate and the idea of a new year just meant that I would relive the agonising trauma and pain that has been in my life for quite some time.
On March 19, 2018, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), something I had suffered from in silence for the past two years. I remember the befuddled look the psychiatrist gave me when she asked why I didn't seek help earlier, to which I responded: "No one can feel my pain. No one can make this go away."
The truth is, I knew what all these terms meant as I had attended a training on mental health. Each time I experienced a different symptom, I kept note of how I felt. Ultimately, this confirmed to me that I was suffering from a mental illness. What I did not realise was that I was caught up in something I would term as a living nightmare; I could not wake up from it.
It hurts. It hurts knowing that I form part of a statistic in my country of the women who have faced a form of gender-based violence. It hurts knowing that my assailant walks freely, while society decides to look away at his actions.
It hurts knowing that when I open up about such issues I become another juicy story for a group of people; and some do not want to get involved or spread awareness about gender-based violence, all they would rather do is tweet about it, discuss it over lunch or drinks and label me as a ‘poor girl who should have seen this coming’.
It hurts knowing that I will never be the same again, knowing that there is a part of me that is damaged. It hurts knowing that I have to face an environment that does not understand my circumstances and blames my outbursts as ‘PMS’, ‘attitude problems’ and ‘being a woman’.
It hurts. It hurts knowing that when I speak about my mental health, I risk being written off as ‘unworthy’, ‘incapable’ and ‘unstable’ not only as a human being but also as a professional lawyer. It hurts knowing that for the past two years I have been masquerading as a happy and confident young woman while in reality I despise my very existence.
I feel alone, worthless and misunderstood. Every time I stand in front of the mirror, I confront the reality of a broken person. I am not okay, and that is okay because that is my first step towards recovery.