For the most part, I’ve dealt with the rape (January 10, 1987- Austin, TX) relatively well. Initially, there was a lot to deal with to prepare for the trial, and after that I just tried to get back to ‘normal’ (nothing is ever the same after being raped). I coasted. For two decades. I knew that Numbnuts (what I call the ‘being’ who raped me) would be coming up for parole review in 2006 (? I’d have to dig up the files I’ve got for the exact date). I had been seeing a therapist to help deal with being on disability, and she and I agreed that seeing someone who dealt with rape and sexual assault issues would also be helpful. So I did.
During this time, I was also on some medications for the chronic medical issues I’ve got, and had some interactions that took a long time to get figured out. Between the weird physical stuff going on (medications and diagnoses) and the stress from the parole review, I got really batty. It was frightening and confusing, and made me a horrible client/patient to have to deal with for any therapist. I had been in therapy before, and seldom called a therapist after office hours. During the ‘crazy year’ or however long it was, I wore those two therapists o.u.t. I feel horrible about that; they were both very kind and compassionate. I was a mess. I didn’t know that the medications (particularly a muscle relaxant combined with my other meds) were having some of the effects that were going on, and part of that included increased ‘panic’. I’d actually have mini-strokes from my blood pressure dropping too low, and was constantly in the ER (and very disliked by the nurses and MDs there- they didn’t figure out the medication thing either). I’d lose the ability to swallow normally, and my balance was shot, which also stirred up the intense anxiety. It wasn’t unusual for my blood pressure to be in the 50s/30s….at home alone. I’d freak out- thinking it was from all of the chaos going on with being on disability, and the loss of my life as a working RN, as well as the stress of the parole review. I thought it was all in my head…and it wasn’t. There were times the therapists called 911 to come to my apartment and get me. Sometimes, I’d be passed out when they got there (I don’t remember what all was going on- or how they got me to unlock the front door…..?). I woke up in the ER many times, trying to remember why I was there.
I actually figured out the problem with tizanidine (muscle relaxant) and the other medications myself, and once I talked to my primary doc and changed to a different muscle relaxant (for fibromyalgia), the weird TIAs (mini-strokes/transient ischemic attacks) and many of the blood pressure plunges just plain stopped (with the dysautonomia, blood pressure issues are just part of life). I already had some scarring in my brain from the TIAs. By then, those two therapists had turfed me to someone else. And not long after that, I had multiple severe blood clots in my right lung, and had to deal with that… but the memories of those many, many months of being so ‘not me’ aren’t good. It’s all very detached and just weird.
I’d wake up (or never get to sleep) and be in a bizarre unprovoked panic that I couldn’t deal with, and I’d call one of those poor therapists either late at night or extremely early in the morning, to help talk me down from wherever I was. I’d be so spaced out, but still absolutely unglued and removed from the fact that I was safe where I was- nothing was actually happening to me. The years of shoving the rape to the side and the new crazy anxiety were life altering if I hadn’t already been on disability for physical disorders (including seizures and dysautonomia that caused problems with losing consciousness and being very foggy -sometimes when I’d be on the phone with one of the therapists). Other times, the seizures and/or dysautonomia happened first (there were times when I didn’t know which was which- I’d just wake up exhausted and more spacey), and I guess I’d call in the middle of the episodes. I don’t remember now exactly what was going on that I called, other than remembering months of weird panicky episodes that were very uncharacteristic of me. And being a therapy client from hell.
Prior to the parole protest/review period, I’d spent a fair amount of time becoming a rape survivor and ditching the rape ‘victim’ title. I hate the ‘victim’ role in myself and others. But I sunk way back into the victim role. I couldn’t stand that regression. It reminded me of earlier times after the rape, and I wanted distance from that. Some of the emotional upheaval was somewhat expected, I think. For twenty years, Numbnuts had been contained, and the possibility of him getting turned loose was terrifying (even though I knew consciously that it was a remote chance he’d ever find me). I knew that there would come a time when the TX Department of Criminal Justice would have to turn him loose, because of mandatory release times…but I wanted it prolonged. After many letters and copying the many old newspaper articles to send to the parole board, the initial parole review/release was denied. By then, the medication changes had been made, and life settled down. But so much was still a fog during those bad months.
I was a really ratty therapy patient. The medications were a big part of the physical reasons for the amplified anxiety. The reminders of what Numbnuts had done to me were oppressively vivid. The way my life changed after the rape (and how differently it all turned out from my dreams and ‘expectations’ of a family of my own) was also in my face. A lot was going on. But I’m not sure I really accept that those reasons are what caused so much to fall apart, and drastically change my ‘normal’ life (on disability) to one of childlike neediness (I’m repulsed writing that).
In the years since then, Numbnuts has been back in prison, after more protest letters. I’ve survived a very aggressive form of leukemia and 19 months of continuous chemotherapy of some form. I’m dealing with significant diabetic issues and blood sugar control problems post-chemo. And I’ve done it without therapy, and no freaking out in the middle of the night. I still have seizures. I still have dysautonomia, that actually seems to be getting worse from the standpoint of heat intolerance (I had to shave my hair off; I can’t tolerate having heat from hair) and activity intolerance. I can’t leave home without an ice vest to prevent overheating. Other physical issues aren’t good. And yet, I keep going on my own. Blogging helps. It’s some sort of contact with someone, somewhere. It’s ‘open’ 24/7, and only ‘bothers’ those who choose to read it. 🙂