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  • Writer's pictureMary Laird

From the Eyes of Another

I fully understood how depression and anxiety play hand-in-hand. Or how PTSD and trauma worked, especially mental and physical trauma. This past year has been a very bumpy ride full of ups and downs. 2022 was an emotional roller coaster that felt like I was trapped in. PTSD comes creeping in when you least expect it. I was diagnosed with secondary PTSD after my best friend in the entire world was sexually assaulted. Crazy right? How could I be struggling with PTSD when it wasn’t me who was assaulted? Sure enough, it was just that PTSD. For months after I tried shoving down my emotions and thoughts. Not recognizing it is a real thing.I learned each day, how I was, and how I now processed my thoughts/actions. I still get flashbacks from time to time from the terrible night. It continually plays in my head as a movie sometimes on a never ending loop. The movie in my head: I can see the look on her face, hear the words she spoke, the overall tone of the room, and different smells from that night. For the longest time I blamed myself for not being there sooner. Not recognizing the signs, the first call, when the first gut wrenching feeling of uncertainty, fear, and harm came barreling in like a flood. I didn’t realize that all of these little details became so important to me. There’s been times in the past year that I have reacted to a lot of different situations, differently than I would have before this assault. I’ve lashed out on my closest friends, broken down many times by the thought of sexual actions. Or when different verdicts came out and how I felt, and what I was doing at that moment. I was devastated and I was angry. This also may come as a surprise to some of you reading this, I’ve never been a complete feminist. Yes, I believed in women’s rights, but I didn’t understand the entire concept until now. There is a war against women, on what we were told to do with our bodies. Or how over sexualized we are. Or how our legal system doesn’t believe women when a sexual assault occurs. My overall advice from this whole thing is to believe whoever tells you if they’ve been assaulted. Or hearing from people who weren’t there “are you sure this even happened?” my answer to this question every time is YES this happened. I believe in her and her story. I believe in her still today, as will I for the rest of eternity. She’s overcome so many things that I can’t even fathom to understand. Will I ever completely understand what she went through that night? No, I won’t. One thing is for certain, though I will be there for her every step of the way. We have a voice and we have the right to use our voices. Stick up for those around you. You don’t know what they’ve been through. Be kind to others, treat them with respect and love. In closing, I pray that whoever is reading this, if you’re like me, is diagnosed with secondary PTSD, trauma, depression, and anxiety. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, take it day by day. The past year was a year of growth, change, fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, happy times, lonely times, and so much more. We will continue on, by using our voices, and not being kept silent.

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