Fear

CW: thoughts of self harm and ending everything

I feel very mixed. It may be because it’s the start of a new semester, and I’m getting used to changes in my schedule, etc. I’ve been meeting new people, which is great. I’m more confident around new people than I used to be. Yet I’m also very busy, and it’s hard for me to find time to relax. That has been difficult to deal with, but I think I can figure out how to do less and give myself time.

As I mentioned in my last update, I’m scared of seeing my assailant now that the semester has started. We were able to take breaks from church during the summer, which made it easier for me to deal with. Yet I don’t think I’ll be able to take as many breaks, and I think this fear has been more present in the past few weeks.

I dread Sundays, and I’m too busy during the week to think about Sundays (and I try not to think about it). But every time Saturday rolls around, the dread sets in. Usually it’s a bit of fear, and I’m able to cope with it. However, this dread has been much worse in the past few weeks. It’s like every cell in my body is telling me not to keep going to that church. I’m telling myself to hang in there, but it doesn’t seem fair that I’m going to that church after all this. I’ve said this before, but I’ve told my parents (in the past) about how this feels, and their response has discouraged me from telling them anything else. Yet I know going to that church is detrimental to my health. I’m struggling with both sides of this.

For the past few Saturdays, I’ve been so nervous, and it’s led to shaking and crying. Three Saturdays ago, I was in the shower, and I had this strange urge to self harm. I don’t typically have those thoughts, so I noticed it right away. I don’t remember exactly what I told myself, but I didn’t self harm. He was there the day after that, and it was very difficult to cope with. Two Saturdays ago (8/24), I was extremely worried. I then had a thought which went something like, “If I ended everything, I wouldn’t have to see him and deal with this pain.” I noticed that thought and I made sure to tell myself why I want to live. After a while, I wasn’t completely calm, but I didn’t have that thought anymore. A couple of days ago (the most recent Saturday), I didn’t have any thoughts of self harm, but I was still shaking and crying. I told my best friend that I was nervous, and she was supportive of me. She told me to try meditation. I did that yesterday morning, and I felt better. He wasn’t there yesterday or the Sunday before that, so that was a relief. Yet the dread was exhausting.

I’m glad that I was able to get myself out of those thought spirals. Yet I’m scared because this isn’t typical. I’m worried that when he is there, I’ll feel worse. I do want to live, and I’m mostly okay with what’s going on in my life (there are stressful moments, but those are okay) – except for seeing him and my parents’ emotional invalidation. I’m going to update my counselor in a few days and talk to her about this. I’ll see if there’s anything else I can do to help myself when I feel this way.

Thank you for all of your support. It’s been wonderful to know that you’re all there for me.


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23 comments

  1. Ashley Day Captain

    Hello music2799,

    Thank you for opening up about the suicidal thoughts and the urge to self-harm; we’re always here for you.

    Starting a new semester can be overwhelming and it’s 110% understandable that it’s difficult to find time for self-care right now. Although you are trying to stay afloat by encouraging yourself to hang in there, it sounds like your body is trying to tell you that something isn’t right. You said that attending church is detrimental to your health; it’s possible that your body is attempting to make that known through the crying, dread, fear, nervousness, and shaking. I’m sorry that you have to see him.
    I commend you for pushing through the impulse of wanting to self-harm and it’s admirable that you were able to work through the suicidal thoughts by pointing out the reasons you have for living. I’m proud of you for reaching out to your best friend. Please let us know how your counseling session goes. I’m glad that you have been able to gain confidence around new people 🙂

    I hope that you can set aside some time to take care of yourself <3

    Ashley

  2. Shannon Volunteer

    Hi music2799,

    Thank you so much for coming back and sharing with us. it’s so good to hear you are practising self-care with meditation and talking to your friend and counsellor. I am sorry you still have to see your assailant while dealing with other stressors like a new semester, but it sounds like you are doing your best to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically, and you should be so proud of yourself. Come back and let us know how you feel after your counselling session. Be kind to yourself

    Shannon

  3. grothkat8 Volunteer

    Hey music2799!

    Thank you for sharing your feelings with us, and just know those emotions are completely normal. I’ve been in situations before where I feel the same way, and it can be hard to figure out. Have you thought of switching churches or maybe taking a break from going for a little while? It’s not fair that you should have to do that, but maybe it will help you for the time being. Just remember everything you feel is normal, but if it ever gets too bad please don’t hesitate to reach out. We are always here to support you and listen to you no matter what, so please write to us whenever you need to.

    Katie

  4. Knina7 Volunteer

    Dear music2799,
    I just wanted to start off by saying thank you so much for being here to tell your story. I am happy to hear that you are able to keep busy and that it takes your mind off of everything. If possible it sounds like it would be best if you stopped going to that church. Maybe you could find a different church with similar religious practices so you won’t have to worry about seeing him every week. I hope by now you were able to talk with your counselor and she was able to give you helpful advice! Please feel free to keep us updated, we are always here for you.
    Sending Love and Hope,
    Kelly

  5. Jordan Volunteer

    Hey there music2799, it is good to hear from you again <3

    I just want you to know that we will always be here for you no matter what, I am glad that you are able to come on here and tell us your stories and that it is able to help you in some way shape or form <3 As for everything that has been happening at church, if you are able to, not going to that church anymore may be one of the best things that you could do for your health. Especially since it is starting to affect your mental/emotional health this badly. You're an adult and I just want you to remember that although your parents may try to guilt you for not wanting to go to that church anymore, this is completely your choice and if you do not wish to go there anymore, you do not have to <3 no one should make you feel guilty about that and if they do, then they may never come to understand the why behind your choice.
    With the new semester starting, school can be a very stressful time, but minus all that typical stuff, it sounds like school is going well for you for the most part, and it sounds like your friends are still being the great support system that you need right now. I think it'll be really good for you to talk to your counselor about everything that has been going on and the thoughts of self harm/suicide that has been pondering your mind. Make sure to take care of yourself <3 meditation is great and I am so happy to hear that it helped you feel better. If you ever need immediate help in the near future, please do not hesitate to text VOICE to 741741 or call the suicide hotline phone number at 1-800-273-8255 <3 Sending you hugs your way and looking forward to hearing an update from you soon. You got this <3

    – Jordan

  6. Lizzi Volunteer

    Hey music2799,
    I’m sorry that you’re struggling with all the changes that come with a new semester. New schedules can be hard to adapt to for many people, and hopefully you’ll be able to settle back in and get in a rhythm of things. I hate the fear that you endure every Saturday and Sunday over going to church. I know that this is so important to you, but if going to this specific church is that harmful to you, it seems like switching churches might be a huge help. I’m sure there’s reasons to stay too though, so maybe make a pro/con chart for reasons to stay or leave the church. The dread you’re having over seeing him at church, leading to these thoughts of self harm and suicide, makes me really concerned about you continuing to go to this church. It’s the one place you know you’re most likely going to see him, and it’s obviously very distressing to you. I’m proud of you for working through these crises and not giving into the thoughts of ending it. I’m glad you’re going to talk to your counselor about this, and remember that there’s crisis hotlines you can reach out to in those moments. 24/7 you can call 1-800-273-8255 or text VOICE

    1. Lizzi Volunteer

      oops, didn’t get to finish. Text VOICE to 741741 for support. We’re here for you and know that you’re supported by us, your counselor, and your best friend. That’s a lot of people that care about you and want to see you keep living.

  7. Megan Volunteer

    Hey music2799,

    Thanks for the update; it’s good to hear from you again. The start of a new semester can always kind of hectic and exhausting. I just started my semester too and I’ve felt pretty off as well. It’s really awesome that you are meeting new people though! It’s definitely good to socialize a bit, I think it helps alleviate some of the stress of school. I totally understand being crazy busy with school, but like you said I think it would be good to find some time to relax between it all. If you can manage to schedule in time for yourself around all of your other activities, I think that would be helpful. Even if it’s just thirty minutes in between doing homework or deciding to stop doing homework at like 9pm and taking the rest of the night until you go to sleep for yourself. As for church, I’m really sorry about the whole situation. It must suck feeling stuck where you feel like you don’t have a choice in seeing your assailant. Your dread and negative thoughts on Saturdays before church make some sense with what you are going through. It’s a lot to handle knowing that you are probably going to see your assailant every week. Sometimes when we are going through very stressful times like these, uncharacteristic thoughts pop into our heads (like the self-harm and ending it all). We don’t necessarily intend on doing them at all, but they still show up sometimes which is kind of a weird feeling and can be surprising to yourself. The good thing is that you recognize these thoughts for what they are and you’re not acting on them. That shows a lot of growth and strength. I would definitely suggest talking them over with your counselor when you see them next, and I think it’ll be good to ask about any more coping mechanisms you can try like you said.

    You are strong and you will get through this,
    Megan

  8. Harton.13 Volunteer

    I’m so sorry that a place that is supposed to be sacred has turned into one of so much anxiety and pain. I think it’s so amazing that you’re able to recognize when you’re having extremely harmful and negative thoughts of self-harm and then pull yourself out of them to come out the other side. I know that process is exhausting, but hope you recognize how much strength you have! Everything you’re feeling is valid, and it’s really healthy that you’re seeking out support from AVFTI, your counselor, and your best friend. Everyone experiences trauma differently, and you are not alone!

    sam

  9. Edjay Volunteer

    Hey music2799,

    Thank you for sharing this with us. It sounds like you have quite a busy schedule currently, it’s understandable that you find it hard to find time to relax. It’s awful that your nervousness about seeing him is causing you further distress with regards to your mental health. However, I’m so proud of you for being able to pull yourself out of that thought spiral of self-harm. It’s great hearing that your best friend was supportive of you, and that you found meditation helpful. Talking to your counselor about this sounds like a great idea. Please keep us posted if you’d like to share more. Take care.

  10. candyappleb Volunteer

    Hi music2799,

    I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling so much recently. I completely understand the dread that comes from the anticipation of seeing an abuser. You’re right, it probably isn’t the best thing for your health to see him every week, especially if it’s causing this level of anxiety. I’m sorry that your parents haven’t been supportive, but I’m glad to hear that you’re able to meet with your counselor. I don’t know how you feel about anxiety medications, but they can be helpful in situations when the stressor is completely unavoidable. Maybe you can mention it to your counselor next time you see them. Until then, remember we’re here for you. Please feel free to reach out to us or text VOICE to 741741 anytime you need us.

    All the best,
    Becca

  11. Northlane1991 Volunteer

    Hey Friend

    My heart goes out to you. Self Harm is a tricky situation. I am glad you came on here to share with us and being open about spirals and thoughts of self-harm and Suicide. Keep Moving Forward We are here for you and know we care for you.

  12. mikaylaanne11 Volunteer

    Hey there, music2799!

    My heart goes out to you. This is a really tricky situation, and I’m glad you’ve been able to come to us and share. Absolutely share your spirals and thoughts of self-harm/suicide ideation with your counselor. Like Jess mentioned below, I highly recommend using the Crisis Text Line if you need immediate support. One of my friends works for them, and everyone there is well-trained to get you the resources you need. The AVFTI code is VOICE, and if you text that phrase to 741-741, you’ll get connected with someone who is familiar with sexual assault crises.

    It definitely sounds like continuing to go to this church is triggering, since you’re never sure if your assailant will be there or not. I know your family isn’t receptive to switching to a new church. With this in mind, do you think they might just not want to go through the process of finding a new one? If you suggested a couple of places to try, do you think they would be receptive? Or do you think they would be receptive to you attending a different church on your own? I’m so sorry they haven’t been supportive in this situation. You deserve to feel safe in a place like that.

    Keep moving forward. We’re here for you whenever you need us. I’m glad you’re part of this community!

  13. kelly Day Captain

    Hey, music2799. I’m so sorry you’re struggling with this. You should be able to feel safe in a place like church. Are you able to go to a different one? It sounds like this one is a big trigger, which makes complete sense. You shouldn’t have to go there if you don’t want to, especially if it’s causing thoughts of self-harm. If your parents are insisting that you continue to go there, I don’t think that’s right. You should have a choice in this. Maybe your counselor can give them a note or talk to them?

  14. Jess Volunteer

    I am so sorry to hear that the beginning of the new semester has been so stressful for you. Try to remember to recognize the strengths in here – you are feeling better about talking to new people, you recognized those negative thought spirals, and you were able to apply coping skills and even tried a new one! It’s hard to recognize our strengths, especially when these negative experiences are happening. I’m glad to hear that you’re planning to speak to your counselor about what you’ve been experiencing – that’s incredibly important. I’m sorry to hear that your parents are continuing to invalidate your feelings, but try to utilize those coping skills and remember that your needs and your health are vital.

    In the meantime, before you see your counselor, if you experience those negative thought spirals and need immediate assistance, please text VOICE to 741-741. You’ll be connected to a crisis counselor who can help you in the moment. Of course, if you need anything else at all, we are always here. Thank you for updating us and I hope your week improves. Keep using your coping skills, stay strong, and keep fighting.<3
    -Jess

  15. Breanna Grunthal Volunteer

    Hey music2799,

    I’m really sorry that the beginning of a new semester is so stressful. I think there is a lot you should be proud of here, particularly your ability to notice your distressing thoughts and almost immediately apply coping skills. I’m sorry that you’ve been having these thoughts – it’s really unsettling when these thoughts randomly come to you. I hope you stay strong and keep your chin up. You have some great coping skills and all of us for support.

    Another thing you should be proud of is your confidence! It’s really great to hear that you’re more comfortable with new people. I recommend just thinking about how you could maybe use this confidence to communicate your needs to your parents. I think it is really important to prioritize yourself, your needs, and your health. Just something to think about!

    Sending you love and support,
    Bre

  16. Natalie M Day Captain

    Hi there!

    Thank you for keeping us updated! I am always happy to hear from you. I’m sorry you have been having a tough time. Healing is a journey with lots of ups and downs! Keep pushing through – you are moving in the right direction! You don’t deserve to feel this way. You deserve to be happy! Keep focusing on you and what you need, not what other’s need. Come back and update us! We are here for you!!

    -Natalie

  17. Bluebell13 Volunteer

    Dear music2799,
    I am so sorry that you have to go through this anxiety and fear every week. I believe you have mentioned before that you still attend this church because it is what your parents want. I am not trying to be mean or to ask this in a judgmental way, but is there any way for you to distance yourself from your parents? They seem to perpetuate a lot of the upset in your life. I know it sounds awful, but sometimes we have to distance ourselves from family so that we can heal and learn how to set boundaries with them to keep ourselves healthy. Talking with your counselor about these things is a great idea. We are here for you always.
    Sending you love and strength,
    Roxie

  18. Solongago

    Music2799, is it because your family goes there that you cannot go to a different church? It seems such a difficult question for you, to give up on this church because of the ties you do have there, and your family won’t be supportive. They seem to have you between a rock and a hard place. It is so unfair. You shouldn’t have to hide from this guy, he should be hiding from you. You shouldn’t have to leave your church, he should have to leave. He should be the one that leaves friends and family because of what he has done.

    The thing is, that isn’t happening. If others know about any of this in the church, if the pastor knows, would you be comfortable there if this guy fell off a cliff and died? If they know, they seem more concerned about his spiritual well-being than yours. If they don’t know, if you have kept it quiet for the sake of your folks, because it seems like you are really considerate of your folks, and sometimes go against your best interests to not rock the boat for them. Have you considered some minor blackmail? Have you considered sitting down with your folks and letting them know that you intend to tell the pastor, or spew the story as a witness moment on Sunday morning. The point is not to tell your story publicly, but to get it through to your parents that what is going on is really damaging to you, and you are ready to do something drastic if you all can’t come to a compromise. What would make you life more bearable there? Or is it over, do you need to go to a different church? I do think it is something you should discuss with your therapist. If you haven’t talked to your pastor about what happened, I think that might be helpful too. If he doesn’t know, then he might inadvertently be pushing you two together, not match making or anything, but if he does know, he might be able to be more conscious about stuff.

    Also, in the old days, pastors were not safe folks to talk to about this stuff. They have come a long way. They do not press toward forgiveness and brushing it all under the rug. I don’t see how they can make the guy go away though. I don’t see how you can be comfortable there when this guy seems everywhere. And I don’t see how you can get your folks to be who you need for them to be.

    I wish your church had like six huge guys, all bigger than this twerp, and they could beat the snot out of him for you, so that when he gets out of the hospital in six months or so, he would leave the state. But that is called, fantasy, and while it may be fun to engage in, it never goes anywhere.

    But here is a thought for you, have you taken any self-defense courses in college? Karate? Boxing? These kinds of courses can help build your confidence while making it possible for you to kick the crap out of him yourself if necessary. Oftentimes, once we reach a level of competence in some form of self-defense, we never need to use the stuff, because we carry ourselves with more confidence, and cowardly scumbags leave us alone.

    I am sorry I am not much help. Know that you can come here, and we care, and we want for you to be happy and to be safe. Because you deserve to be happy, and you deserve to be safe.

  19. Samantha Harris Volunteer

    Hi music2799,
    Thank you for continuing to update us on your story. I’m so sorry that you’re struggling like this. Have you considered going to a different church? As least for a little while, it might be easier to heal if you’re away from him. I definitely think it’s a good idea to share all of this with your counselor. If you need anything, we’re always here for you.

  20. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    I am so sorry you have been feeling these things. I think it’s a very good idea to speak to your therapist about this. I know you have mentioned struggles with this, but is there any way you can not go to that church? It’s clear that it’s extremely detrimental to your mental health, and you don’t deserve that. You deserve to heal, away from your abuser. Maybe this is something to also discuss with your therapist? Let us know how else we can do to support you-we are here for you.

    Erin

  21. Alyssa Day Captain

    Hi music2799,
    I’m so sorry that this fear is scaring you and keeping you from being happy. That is not okay. He should be fearing you. Have you thought maybe going to a different church or seeing if your campus has a church? I know you love going to church, but I don’t want to see you getting this scared and stressed out because of this guy. Whenever you get a thought of self harm or suicide please don’t be scared to message AVFTI, message me on slack, or text VOICE to 741-741. I know your parents invalidate you a lot and that’s not okay, so please try to talk to your other resources like us, your friends, and your counselor.
    Since he also hasn’t been to church in 2 weeks maybe that’s a good sign. Don’t worry so much about seeing him especially if you haven’t seen him. I don’t want you to over think the what if situations when you don’t have to and stress out even more. Thank you for updating us. We are all here for you.
    -Alyssa

  22. Solongago

    I’m sorry. I feel bad that Sundays and church are such a negative for you. It shouldn’t be that way. I wish your parents were more understanding. I am excited about school though. What are you taking? Can you focus on your classes when you start worrying about Sunday. Have you maybe considered going to church every other week instead of every week? Would that help?