You know that incalculably uncomfortable feeling of when somebody begins to rub your shoulders who shouldn’t be? If not, good! If so, imagine that feeling occurring whenever anybody tries to touch you in a romantic or sexual way — even people you are attracted to, even people you want to sleep with, even people you have slept with before. That is how the last two months have felt for me.
As some of you may know, since I’m rather open about it, I have post-traumatic stress disorder. After being raped for the first time at 13, I developed symptoms which have waned and waxed throughout the past decade. In one of my first submissions to The Gloss (over a year ago, how time flies!), I discussed a few of this incident’s immediate and longterm effects on my mindset and behavior.
However, in the last few years, the episodes have become significantly less frequent; the triggers fewer; the panic attacks nearly nonexistent. A lot has to do with creating an effective support system, but quite a bit also pertains to my decision — one I was unable to make until I was entirely ready — to not let my relationships be affected by my PTSD any longer. Obviously, this was easier said than done and it took a lot of serious work and trial and error, but as a result, I haven’t seriously panicked during sex or while on a date in around a year.
Now, though, that decision seems to have been somewhat overturned once more.