My name is Sara Cheney and I am a survivor of incest, rape and domestic violence. I have endured torture. I have had my head placed under ice cold running water as a child to make me stop crying. I have had my body broken because my mother couldn’t control her temper. I have been neglected. I have been made to go without food, medical attention and the loving support of my parents. I chose a man that would end up brutally raping me; because of the damage that was done I ended up losing a baby.
I have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Major Depression Sever Recurring, Anxiety Disorder, Panic Attacks and Dissociation. I am what they call “high functioning”. I had to learn to be that way, because “what happens in the family stays in the family”. Because of that I have a public and a home personality. If you meet me in public you would think I was “normal” but what is going on behind the scene and in my private life is chaos.
I have a fear of being in a large group of people. I get extremely anxious when I am even on the outskirts of a large group. I’m hyper-vigilant. No matter where I go I’m always scanning for threats. I fear authority figures. When confronted or even just talked to by a person in authority I panic. My insides do cartwheels.
If I have to defend myself I can’t because the fear overwhelms me to where I cry and I physically start to shake. I have only been at a job for a little over two years. When a confrontation comes along I would rather just quit instead of facing it and being made to feel all those unpleasant feelings and memories. I don’t sleep because when I close my eyes my dreams haunt me. I isolate myself because it’s more peaceful if I’m away from people, but I feel so alone I end up crying.
Smells, colors, a person’s appearance, sounds can trigger flashbacks and I have to relive my nightmares over and over while I’m awake. The flashbacks are just as real like it happened the first time, I see it, I smell it and my body feels it. I disassociate. When things get to be to much for me to handle all my senses stop recording. It is scary coming back to consciousness realizing that I disassociated and not knowing what happened.
I had to leave work a number of times because I start to panic and I know if I didn’t leave soon, I will have a full blown panic attack at work, and it’s extremely uncomfortable to be totally out of control especially around people. I hate myself, I’m worthless, “the only way that anyone would want me is to sleep with them, get pregnant and then someone might want me”. I have low self-esteem. I want to die because it’s the same crap different day. NOTHING ever changes!!! If this is all that life has to offer me, it’s not worth it. And I spiral deeper and deeper into the darkness and I start to plan out how I’m going to end my life.
Things do change! The biggest change that has happened is Hannah. She’s my service dog. She is my anchor, my life preserver, and my best friend. When therapy and medication don't work and I’m fighting to survive, she is the only thing that anchors me to this life. I’ve “checked” myself in a number of different times. I go to therapy every week. I’ve taken Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT). Because peer support is vital to having a good mental health, I’ve started my own Mental Health and Wellness Peer Support Group.