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Three Steps Forward, One Step Back: Hollie's Story

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Blue skies, a huge pool, great friends and family, and all the popsicles you can eat. The sights and sounds of summer. I was the typical 14 year old girl, a bit on the shy side, a perfect example of a "housecat", and I had just made the ever-so-hard transition from elementary school to high school. Little did I know, the summer of 1999 was not one I was going to forget any time soon, unfortunately.

Exactly a month before Christmas I had broken up with my first boyfriend. It was a long distance relationship, and the only time I really got to spend any time with him was in the summer, because our families both had trailers in the same park. I think he was still kind of sore about the relationship ending the way it did, but we had been able to maintain the friendship, or so I thought.

The day after Canada Day (July 1st) my ex-boyfriend and all my summer friends reunited. That night, he and his sister stayed over at our trailer for the night. We were good friends, so his sister and my sister hung out, and we did our own thing. We stayed up talking until all hours of the night, before we both decided we needed some sleep.

The next morning I got up early and we started talking again. It was too early for me to be awake and I was battling severe cramps, among other things, so I fell back asleep. This is where my so-called friend and ex boyfriend decided he was going to explore the female body: mine.

Looking back at this, I can only feel anger: at him for being so "curious", and at myself for letting it happen. I have heard so many "It's not your fault's," that I am honestly ready to puke. It's ironic I guess. I can see how the victim is not at fault in other sexual assault/abuse situations, but I still refuse to see it in my own. So call me a hypocrite, but that's the way I see it. As far as I know, this is how a lot of people see things. It's a lot easier to analyze a situation that you're not in, because you really have nothing to lose.

So what did I do? Nothing. At least not at first, I didn't know what to do. He didn't know that I knew what he was doing, because according to him, I was sleeping the whole time. So many people have asked me why I didn't do anything at the time -- at least let him know that I knew what happened. And a few days later, I did.

I called him, he denied it, then finally admitted it and we spent over an hour on the phone, both in hysterics. I have never felt more betrayed and ashamed and confused in my life. I knew I had people in my life to talk to about this, but I had to sort things out in my own mind, before talking about it with anyone else.

There was one person in my life at the time, whom I told everything too. He wasn't quite my boyfriend, at the time, but we were really close. I told him what had happened, and he freaked out. He confronted my ex boyfriend about it which only caused more problems. We'll call him Joe.

Joe knew what I was going through, having been through it himself, and told me that I had a week to tell my mom, or he would. It was at least mid-August before I told my mom. She also freaked out on me. Not for what happened, but because it took me almost six weeks to tell her something, when we had been so close before.

Things started to go downhill from there. One night we were up until five in the morning screaming and yelling, all over this. That was the first and only time I tried to take my own life. Obviously, it didn't work, and no one even knew what I had done until a year later.

It's kind of mind boggling that something that took place in maybe a matter of 10 minutes can cause such turmoil in a persons life. I have never forgotten one piece of information about that day. It was July 3rd, 1999, around 7 in the morning, and I even know what I was wearing. Why couldn't I let go? Where could I go from here?

My inability to move on landed me in the hospital, in early April of the following year. I had told my mom that I didn't want to live anymore, and I had the scratches and cuts on my wrists to prove it. Of course, I didn't do this to end my life, it was a form of release for me, but I believe that anyone who hasn't done it doesn't understand. I was diagnosed with clinical depression, and obsessive compulsive anxiety/panic disorders. According to my mom, I've never been a "normal" little girl. I can't say if that's matter of opinion or fact, but if anyone knows you, it should be your mother, right? I was put on Zoloft and given a bottle of Ativan to compat panic attacks.

If anything has given me the strength to "get better", it was my ten day stay on the psychiatric ward. I was the youngest one there, by about twenty years. One person came onto the ward who completely changed my view on things. Her name was Melinda, and it was easy to see that she had been through things ten times worse than I could even imagine. Her husband had her brought in with police and handcuffs and the whole thing. She was in her early thirties, with a teenage son around my age and a one who was younger. She had been through this before, but it was still new to me. She held me and told me things would be alright. She was my mom when my mom couldn't be with me.

The way it works with being admitted to the hospital for mental problems is this: you can be admitted on your own free will, or they can hold you there ... somewhat like a jail. Because of the feelings I was having at the time, the emergency room doctor opted to have me held whether I wanted to be there or not. This was only for 48 hours, and then I would be evaluated again. Of course, when I was re evaluated, they decided that I wasn't fit to be "freed", so they had a right to hold me there for another fifteen days.

After my ten days in the hospital, I was allowed to go home. Melinda and I had become really close in the few days we had known each other. I was the only one on our floor that she would talk to without going into a screaming fit. She was just like me, only older. Before I left, we exchanged gifts. It was small things, but it meant a lot to me. I gave her a book that my mom had brought me and wrote a little message and my phone number in it, and she gave me a mood ring that has a heart on it. I still have that ring. I look at it when I'm upset and scared and it inspires me, to move on and push forward.

Melinda wasn't the only friend I seemed to make while I was there. Since I was the youngest, everyone seemed so curious as to why a youngster like me could have so many problems that would land me in the hospital. One man gave me his business card, and told me that I should call him, because he would like to talk. He said he would listen to me as if I were his own daughter, because he never had one. I never did call him though. It was just nice knowing that someone I didn't even know could care so much. It made me realize that no one on that floor was really crazy. We all just had different problems that required medication and the ocasional arm and leg straps.

After my stay in the hospital, I went home, to live with my mom and sister once again. I was still on Zoloft and seeing my psychiatrist once a week for an hour. My mom and the guidance department had also set it up so I could visit with the school's social worker every Wednesday. After this, my psychiatry appointments went to 30 minutes every 2 weeks, then 10 minutes every month. I hated going to both. I dreaded it, and I would find every excuse in the book as to why I wasn't able to keep appointments with my social worker. As for the psychiatrist, I didn't have a choice at all. I was going, or I was moving out of my mothers house. This went the same for medication.

Since I was 100% against all of this "getting better", it caused extreme friction between my mom, my sister and I. I felt like they were both against me. I rememer vividly one fight my mother and I had over going for my normal psychiatrist appointments. I told her I resented her for what she was doing "to" me and stormed out of the house. I sat in our backyard and yelled at the tree for over an hour. My neighbours must have thought I was loony for sure. But you know what? It helped. I felt so much better after my little breakdown and discussion with the tree. I was able to go back in the house and tell her why I was so upset. It didn't get me anywhere really, I still had to stay on medication and go to my psych. appointments, but she can't say that I never told her how I felt.

This August, just about a year after the explosion in my house over what happened and why I didn't tell, I announced to everyone that I was leaving. This didn't go over well at all. I wished things would work out, but they didn't. I needed to escape, and this was the only way. On August 27th I moved in with my father, and brought my cat with me. While it's been a rocky road, I feel better knowing that this was a decision that I made on my own. Whatever I do while I'm living here is completely up to me. I'm allowed to make mistakes. I wish things could've worked out this way with my mom, but I think she was just too scared to let me do anything, knowing my one mistake could be me taking my own life. I understand that now, I didn't then.

So things are looking up. I am slowly starting to put the pieces back together. Shortly after I moved down here I decided, against my doctor's wishes, to take myself off of my anti depressants. At first, things went great, but that didn't last long. On the pills, I wasn't exactly chipper all the time, but I wasn't thinking of putting holes in my body that didn't need to be there. I soon took my butt back to the doctor and asked that I be put back on the Zoloft. I realize now that panic attacks and depression really are related. I'm depressed because I don't feel right in my own skin, if that makes any sense. Feeling jittery because you've had too much caffine and feeling jittery because you're scared silly over nothing are two very different things.

I feel so much better now than I did a year ago. I'm still on my medication and I've also started therapy through my school. I've admitted to one close friend here why I've moved and my history. It's one thing to do something because you don't have a choice, and quite another to do something because you know it's right. I may only be 16, but I honestly believe that I will do what's right, given the chance. I'm extremely stubborn and bullheaded and I don't listen to good advice, I know that. I will sit if someone tells me to stand. I get this from my mother, of course.

The biggest thing I have learned from all of this, is that you have to do what is right for YOU. If you know you're hurting and you need help, get it. If you've been or are being sexually abused or assaulted, do something about it. By keeping this secret you aren't hurting anyone but yourself. I thank my lucky stars everyday that Joe threatened to 'tell on me', or I may not be here right now to tell my story. I couldn't deal with it with all the help I was getting (and am still receiving) so I have no idea where I would've been had I been doing it on my own. The point is, you don't have to. If all else fails, yell at a tree. Then go hug it, because hugs are the best medicine, in my humble opinion.

Three steps forward, one step back. That's exactly what I'm doing right now. I am making progess in "getting better", but sometimes I fall backwards. And now I'm strong enough to pick myself up, wipe my butt off and move on. If I need help I know I have great friends, an awsome boyfriend and my parents who have always been there for me, if I need them. What doesn't kill us, can only make us stronger. You're all alive and breathing to read this with the capability to make yourselves stonger mentally, emotionally and spiritually, so do it!

written 31 May 2007 . updated 03 Jan 2010

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