Content Warning: Sexual assault, Emotional abuse, Financial abuse, Therapist abuse, Stalking, Abandonment, PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Bipolar Disorder
My “mental health journey” began with an incident of sexual assault in 2001, when I was 26. I was not raped, and what did happen wouldn’t necessarily traumatize some other women. But it was, in legal terms, a sexual assault, and it was absolutely devastating to my psyche, probably because it began the process of recovering a memory of childhood sexual abuse when I was around the age of five. I’m going to turn this story into a memoir very soon, and it’s a very long one. So, I’m skipping some details and “chapters” here.
I wound up in the hands of a both helpful and extremely harmful psychologist. This man works in a somewhat helpful but very problematic and harmful way, and during the course of my therapy with him, I went from having Major Depressive Illness Disorder, PTSD, anxiety, and paranoia to having delusions and psychosis and possibly Schizoaffective Disorder. I never had a single mental health problem until the triggering event of the assault, and I still don’t understand how a patient can get devastatingly worse in the course of their treatment. To make things even worse, I became obsessed with him and thought I was in love with him. And to make things even worse, he made it obvious he was attracted to me and wanted a future romantic relationship with me, though he was married at the time. I became so distressed and unwell, that I wound up getting myself kicked out of therapy with him.
Then I wound up in the community mental health (CMH) system that put me on two antipsychotics. I had never been on an antipsychotic prior to that, and I was traumatized by the experience of going on the first one while in a hideous partial hospitalization situation. The first night of being on it was terrifying. I needed an advocate at this time, but my family pretty much abandoned me. I had none. CMH didn’t know what to do with me and sent me to their DBT program, though I’ve never even come close to having Borderline Personality Disorder. I hated the program, but I was so ignorant that I didn’t know that I had a choice about it. I didn’t know that I had any say or rights whatsoever. I thought that in order to get my meds, I had to do that awful program.
Brain damage from the psychosis, etc. and/or probably being way over-medicated changed me almost completely. I was for a very, very long time in a state of having been extremely dismantled. I lost my senses of self and identity. I no longer had social skills that I had long ago mastered and came naturally to me. My mind was slowed down, but I no longer had delusions or psychosis.
Eventually, I started becoming more normal and worked a full-time job for three years. However, near the end of that period, I gradually developed Bipolar Disorder. I exhibited manic behaviors, mostly related to the affliction of hypersexuality. I did many, many things as a result of that, that were completely out of character. I’m very lucky that I didn’t experience further trauma as a result of that. Then I developed a severe problem that I have yet to understand, and that lead to my using my bathtub as a toilet for about a month. This landed me back in the CMH system, but by this time, my mother become more financially generous to me and rescued me from hell of a being a CMH patient. I was put on a new antipsychotic that worked like a miracle for me. I bounced back faster and more fully from the second severe episode.
Eventually, I worked a part-time job for three years. However, I eventually came to again recover traumatic memories related to the childhood incident of sexual abuse that had previously come up during the delusions-and-psychosis period. This time, I was very well, and the exact same things came up. I’ll spare you the details.
Around this same time, I developed an extremely odd kind of correspondence with that initial and harmful psychologist: I wrote to him, and in response, he made “appearances” all over my life on his bicycle. He was divorced by this time, and sadly, this extremely strange relationship lasted for about eight years and is a sign that while I was more mentally “well,” I was a very, very broken person. I fear that we both showed signs of being obsessed with the other. Eventually, we met on a dating app, and a two-way email correspondence developed. However, this very quickly lead to financial involvement and ultimately to financial abuse on his part that I suspect could be considered fraud in legal terms. I attempted to end the relationship, and I told him clearly that seeing him was extremely upsetting for me because the financial abuse/fraud had traumatized me. But he proceeded to stalk me by bicycle all over my life and constantly.
Then, very loud noises began to occur around my apartment walls and at my front door on a regular basis. This was frightening and traumatic. It seems reasonable to determine that the person visibly stalking me would also be the one harassing me in such a way. I’m not a movie star; it’s unlikely I’ve attracted a second stalker. And I’m not a person who normally has any enemies whatsoever. It became so upsetting that I moved to a neighboring state, but, sadly, the harassment at night followed me there.
This story is worse than what I am sharing here. Again, I’ll spare you many details. I became so stressed, that I developed cognitive/executive function problems. I was extremely sleep-deprived from the distressing nighttime noise disturbances. I lost a good job because of that. I realized that I had to move again, but at my current location, the noise disturbances have again followed me. At least the logistics of where I now live keep them at a more tolerable level. But it’s very, very hard on me, and it’s been very traumatic emotionally: someone who was once paid to help me and to whom I was extremely vulnerable has abused me in horrifying and deeply scarring ways.
It’s been painfully difficult to find mental health care professionals who even believe this whole awful story. I’ve been psychologically slapped by the disbelief of many providers regarding the therapist abuse and the recovered memory experience too many times to tell. Though I now have a psychiatrist able to wrap her head around this bizarre story. It is 100% true and factual. Long-term, I’ve had a very terrible time accessing quality med-supervision and therapy. I don’t live in a metropolitan area, where it seems the best providers can be found.
Something that never ceases to shock me is how little many therapists even know about trauma. I don’t understand how that is even possible. I remain in an over-medicated state now because med changes are very hard for me, and the stalking situation persists. Please pray that I can navigate my way through the stalking situation. Please pray that I get mercy from this man who still has power over me. I’m tired of being harmed and abused.
If you care about women like me (stalking victims) or women in general, please support organizations like the YWCA because the police tend to be useless in stalking situations. I’ve been ghosted by a number of them, and some obviously don’t even care. It’s been very painful that in this society, it’s no one’s job to protect me from such harm. It’s very, very painful to be a stalking victim, and it’s shaped and is shaping me and the course of my life, quite sadly for the worse. I’m very, very sad and am so tired of this burden. I’d give anything to be safe again and have a more normal and good life.