I often hear people say to me “I’m so sorry you were a victim of emotional abuse/bullying in high school” and I can see in their eyes they still view me as a victim, or “what was it like being a victim of depression/anxiety/fear, etc.?”
I really didn’t mind this until recently. I still don’t mind it in a sense, although I do tend to correct them. I tell them that yes, I was a victim. However, now – in my depressive, suicidal and anxious days, I am still a survivor.
Being labelled a victim, to me, implies that I have been wallowing in what I have gone through, or that I’ve given up.
I could’ve been a victim of suicide, had I decided to go through with it in the first place, and I could’ve been a victim of alcoholism at the age of twenty-four, had I chosen to remain in my abusive relationship. I would have understood being called a victim had I chosen to stay on the ground after being kicked repeatedly, yet I decided to get to my feet, bruises and all.
Then I get those people who view me as a victim in the most derogatory way possible. On days when the flashbacks hit me like a flood and I spiral into a depressive panic, all they see is me feeling sorry for myself.
“Get over it,” they tell me. “It’s in the past, it’s time to move on.”
The Dictionary definition of a victim is “a person who has come to feel helpless and passive in the face of misfortune or ill-treatment.”
Being a survivor to me means that I chose to keep myself busy rather than let the suicidal thoughts run rampant in my mind, possibly causing me to take my own life. It means that I stopped drinking wine alone in my room every weekend after my abusive relationship ended. It means that even though I continue to have anger and depressive days, I know that there is One standing next to me throughout every second of every day, and He is closer than my breath, more real than the ground I stand on.
When I have a daughter one day, I will tell her what I have been through, although not in excruciating detail.
I will teach her what it means to love every single person unconditionally, but to not stand for destructive treatment from them. I will teach her to put God first, and family next.
I will teach her to stand strong in the face of the most difficult situations of her life, and to leave when she knows in her gut that it’s time.
Mental health awareness is certainly on the rise more and more each day, and I am grateful that everyone is now free to talk about what they feel inside, rather than be ostracized for it.
For everyone who had to pull themselves out of the mire, who had to deal with their destructive thoughts day in and day out, and who had to learn how to treat happiness as a journey, rather than a destination – I take my hat off to you.
You survived, you’re a survivor.
We did it.