As anyone with mental health knows, it's a constant battle just to get through the day. I have always been open about my struggles with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I've never once hidden that I suffer from these as a result of being raped. I've published my "story" on multiple social media platforms in the hopes to encourage other survivors and remind them that they. are. not. alone.
It's now been just over 3 years since my attack. Three days ago, a police constable came to my home and delivered the mobile phone that had been taken as evidence. I requested that he burn my clothes and bedding that were also used as evidence. It took me until last night to charge the phone and go through it; I'm giving it to my mum since she doesn't have one at present, so I had to set the phone back to its default settings.
I didn't expect to be triggered as severely.
There I was, in the photos, 2 weeks before my 21st birthday. Younger, prettier, healthier, and thinner. I was happy. I'd just started working in the Scottish Parliament for a Minister who legalised gay marriage in my country. I was making new friends. I'd moved into a stunning apartment with a close friend and I really, really thought: this is it—time to start my new life. The photos I found on the phone had even conveyed that.
I was indeed younger, prettier, healthier, and thinner. I was proud of my body and treated it with the respect it deserved. I didn't have the hideous bags under my eyes that I've got now. I wasn't sleep deprived. I used to sit by St. Margaret's Loch and watch the world go by with a smile on my face. I had severe wanderlust and couldn't wait to travel. But it all ended in less than a fortnight.
Now, I can't be outside for 5 minutes before I want to run back home and hide. I've since gained some weight, too. None of my clothes fit and I have to wear leggings when I go out. I get family members asking if I'm pregnant or subtly suggesting that I stop eating my feelings. I don't have any confidence in myself or my abilities anymore. I hate being outside because of my anxiety; I constantly think people are remarking how fat/ugly I look and how much I've changed.
I used to dream about the day I became an author. A year after I was attacked, I published my first book, and I felt nothing when I held the paperback in my hands. I felt nothing when my friends got engaged or had children or anything remotely exciting occurred in my life. I don't know if this is another result of depression/PTSD. I've tried everything. Exercise? Yup. Better diet? Yup. Fresh air? Yum. Antidepressants? Yup. Counselling? Yup. And yet nothing is capable of erasing this numbness.
I told a friend last night that "I honestly think I'm going crazy."
It's like a steady decline in my head. I can feel something almost... snapping. It's nearly impossible to describe other than that. So many times I have thought "just jump out in front of that car" or off a bridge. No one will know. No one will care. Those thoughts used to terrify me. Now they're just constantly present, and the most terrifying thing of all? I'm no longer afraid of them. It's like they've moulded into a part of my brain, always there, always talking to me and telling me to just fucking end it all.
I think this urge became stronger about a year ago. My dad's illness got really bad then. He's been terminal with cancer since I was 16 and he told me he had 2 years left to live. He's a true Snow, though, and managed to fight his way to his 60th birthday. However, when he took that bad spell, I also had a falling out with an author in the same genre as me. It was a small misunderstanding that could've been settled quickly and professionally, but it wasn't. My reputation was put on the line and I was made out to be the bad person without just... talking it out with the author like adults. I ended up going back home to my dad's for a few weeks, not just to look after him, but also to take a social media break until I felt able to return. I also vowed to never involve myself in anymore drama. Since then, I can say I've felt a lot better. Life's too short to be surrounded by toxic people. I have enough exhaustion in my head to last me a life time, anyway.
I can honestly say though, without naming anyone or trying to start more drama, it was this incident with the author that impacted my mental health big time. It was like it cemented how I'd already been feeling inside for at least 2 years: numb. I lost my trust in a lot of people afterward. A year later, it's been a daily struggle convincing myself to forget about my past—the attack, the court case, the online drama and various other demons—and to just get through the day without wanting to die. I've struggled with losing my ability to fight like I used to, to never give up, and to always seek joy in the small things in life. It's been a long, turbulent journey, but now I just focus on my readers. I focus on being a good person and treating people how I want to be treated. I focus on not being an asshole and always putting first the only thing that has kept me going in this world: my tribe.
Some days are worse than others. I guess yesterday and today have been one of those. The phone and police visit reminded me of who I once was... and can never be again. All because some asshole rapist put his greed before someone's whole future. I don't think I'll ever get over this—he didn't just violate my body, he crushed my soul.
So yeah. Lately I've been having some bad days and this recent crack in my mental health has knocked me for seven. Right now, my music is on full blast. I'm trying to stay grounded and focus on the positives. I'm trying to not think of the state of our world -- and how a monster like Kavanaugh could be placed into the Supreme Court. I'm trying to not think about how POC can't walk down the street without a racist fuck calling the police on them. I'm trying not to think about the people in our world who feed on drama like ripe pieces of fruit. The backstabbers, the haters, the poverty, the suppression, the inequality... It's mentally - fucking - draining, and along with my own struggles, I'm sick of it. My head feels sick at times. The rage at "why did he have to do this to me?" or "why did they have to lie about me?" is like a darkness growing and I've tried... I've fought hard to suppress it.
Because this isn't me.
This isn't the happy, bubbly girl I know I am. Or used to be.
The only thing that keeps my going is my tribe. I love my family dearly, but when you're so far lost in this kind of darkness, it's hard to remember who's genuinely there for you. It's also difficult not to feel like you're a burden with your problems—especially when you're hit with "well other people have it worse than you." People in my real life tell me this a lot and I'm tired of it. It's just another way to suppress what someone's feeling.
The readers who spare me their precious time, who contact me, who support me, who read my books, are the reason I'm still alive.
It's them I write for.
It's them I am here for.
Without you, I simply wouldn't be there, and that is why I owe everything to you.
The death of my "personal name" has resulted in the birth of Katze Snow.
And so, despite my bad days lately—hell, my bad years!—thank you for supporting her.
For believing in me.