Four Years Later – Here I Am

Four Years Later – Here I Am

Four years ago tonight, I was fighting for my life.

Last year I wrote a reflection piece, and I wanted to do another one to see how far I’ve come.

Approaching The Date
This year I didn’t dread the date as it was approaching. I almost forgot until I had to write a cheque.
Right now I am at home sick with a sinus cold and asthma flare-up, but I am sure it’s somehow related to the date. My mind, body, and heart need a break from the full-speed ahead pace I’ve been keeping for the past year.
I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep or not but I’m not particular excited to try – it hasn’t been easy for the past 4 years or so.

The Last Year
There have been ups and downs. The last 4 years, even the last year, haven’t been linear in any way, shape, or form.
Since my reflection last year, I have been working on ‘getting my body back’ and losing the weight I gained due to sleeping pills, antidepressants, and exercise-induced panic attacks. It’s lead to some disordered eating and exercise habits, but I’m working through it.
My PTSD is mostly under control. I still freak out a little when I think I’m locked in a storage room, or hear a loud noise, and sometimes I wake up fighting, but overall I like to think I’m ok.
I had the opportunity to speak at a fundraiser for the Sexual Assault of Edmonton, and it was an amazing experience. (my speech can be found here!)
Shortly after the gala, I did an interview for a segment on Alberta Stories, and I’m still grateful for the opportunity. (The video can be found here – warning – it’s a little graphic) Both of these opportunities allowed me to connect with other survivors and I’m still in touch with some of them.
Currently I am looking for more ways to speak out and offer support to other survivors.

My World was Rocked Once Again by Jian Ghomeshi’s Trial & Acquittal
I have a blog entry drafted about it. I was waiting until I could calm down, and think articulately, rationally, and logically about it, but that hasn’t happened yet.
What I will say about it is this – We NEED to do better. Currently only .003% of rapists ever spend a day in jail.
There needs to be a way to get more convictions for these assaults that are undoubtedly happening, without compromising the integrity of our system. And that hasn’t happened yet.
The message I took from this trail, and I am still struggling to come to terms with, is that I am worth more dead than alive. It’s easier to get a murder conviction than a sexual assault conviction and that is terrifying to me.

A Little Bit of Honesty
The memories of the attack are a little fuzzy around the edges, but still no walk in the park.
During the Ghomeshi trial, I tried to think back to the attack to see what I remember. There are some things that I remember all too vividly, and other things that have really faded with time. I can’t say for certain that I would be a good witness at a trial.
To this day, EVERYSINGLETIME the lights go off I can feel my attacker grabbing at my ankles, trying to pull me back.
I still wake up in a cold sweat, trying to pry his hands off my neck. But only about 25% of the time now. Progress is progress.
I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever figure dating, relationships, trust, and control out. The words ‘vulnerable’ and ‘intimacy’ make my skin crawl.
I’ve been watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and wow – just call me Kimmy. This show manages to portray the PTSD & after-effects of violent crime so lightheardedly that people aren’t scared of it. Sometimes I think people are scared to understand the depths of my experiences, because they are very dark and painful and there’s nothing that can fix it or make it all better. But to see it portrayed by Kimmy Schmidt helps you understand without having to feel all the icky feelings.

A Funny Story, Because That Last Paragraph Was Very Dark And Scary
This Christmas, my family was staying at my Aunt and Uncle’s house. I woke up in the middle of the night and didn’t know where I was. I started crying, and it scared my little cousin, who thought I was a coyote and ran into his parent’s room to sleep. My family teased me to no end – I still giggle when I think of it.

Looking on the Bright Side
I realize that I’m optimistic to a fault. Recklessly optimistic, as my friends and family have started referring to me. Optimism may come more naturally to some people than to others. But I don’t think there’s a downside to being optimistic. And if there is no bright side, make one. The grass is greener where you water it.
I still maintain that the only way to get through is to look on the bright side. Wallowing is not going to fix anything. While it’s important to recognize and appreciate that everything is shitty, if that is my main focus, I will keep feeling shitty. What saved me, and still helps when I’m feeling down, is to try to get outside of myself – by asking bigger questions – instead of “how am I feeling?” or “why am I feeling so shitty?” Ask “what have I done today to help someone else?” “have I checked in with any friends this week? How are they doing?” “Have I contributed to society or the community this month? If not, how can I start?”

The Road Ahead
I am working on finishing a business degree ASAP. I’m volunteering in my community. I’ll start up a new fitness program soon – maybe kickboxing, crossfit, weightlifting, or marathon running; the options are endless now that panic attacks aren’t an issue!
I’m working on putting others first and not focusing on myself so much. There was a time when I needed to focus 100% on myself and my healing, but that point has passed and I am now putting my energy towards making the world a better place for my people, my community, and the world.
Also, I’m trying to remember to slow down, take a deep breath, and carve out some time for fun and play. So last night I sat in a huge box trying to pop XXL bubble wrap.

I have a couple of blog pieces in the works, but they require some research that I’m slowly pulling together.
Overall I am happy & healthy, and I have the team & community from When You’re Ready to thank for that.
I’m still so happy to be a part of the When You’re Ready team, and can’t wait to see what’s in store for us.

We still have a long way to go, but just look at how far we’ve come.
Love, Elizabeth






Hi! I'm Elizabeth, a blogger on When You're I spent 2 years struggling with PTSD and panic attacks following a violent attack. I want to use my experience and my voice to raise support for others. I desperately want to make the world a safer place for girls and women, especially my two little sisters. Keep talking, Keep sharing. When You're Ready, I'll be here.