Thursday, November 3, 2016


Still I Rise 

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
'Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

by Maya Angelou

Last Wednesday I pushed myself to go busking on the London Underground for the first time in a number of weeks, as all my money had run out and I needed to practice going out into the world again before I allowed my OCD /PTSD to gain the upper hand. The day before, my counsellor, T., had reminded me about how I could use a Grounding technique to achieve this: As I ventured out of the house and made my tube journey into London, I visualized myself as being rooted in and connected to the earth beneath my feet. This enabled me to remain in the present moment rather than to start catastrophizing about what dangers could befall me. T. also reminded me that my abusers can no longer hurt me, that I'm capable of protecting myself if anyone were to attack me, and that if a terrorist incident were to happen, there'd be other people around to help. I'm happy to report that as a result of bearing all this in mind, I was able to complete most of my busking session without writing down reassurances to myself that I was safe each time my OCD was triggered, though I needed to ask Jan for reassurance that nobody had hurt or contaminated me once I got home.

Having made it through the busking session gave me the strength to believe I could make it to Tech Day, London the following day. It was a struggle getting there because my brain was going over all the times my OCD had been triggered the previous day and I hadn't given into my compulsion to write down reassurances I was safe: Had that aggressive-looking man I spotted while I was busking really not contaminated me? Despite this, I remained anchored enough to attend the event, network, shake hands with and be bumped into by lots of people, without writing down each time that I hadn't been contaminated - something I couldn't have done back in June. Things fell apart a little, though, when I cut my finger on a piece of paper: The image of the open wound and blood meant (in my 'OCD' logic), that I was more susceptible to being contaminated by other people, which lead to me having to write down a reassurance to myself that I hadn't been hurt or contaminated at all since leaving the house. The important thing is, however, that I went and came away feeling more alive having had some face-to-face interaction with like-minded people.

I've been studying Forensic Science online with FutureLearn, and achieved 100% in my first test: I love it, and having been a survivor of crime, it's empowering to now be knowledgeable about how such crimes can be investigated and solved.

Some days I wake up and feel physically riddled with anxiety even if my mind is calm, which makes my OCD harder to overcome. Also, some combinations of intrusive thought and accompanying image, for example, having just been to the toilet then seeing a man in the distance, continue to immediately translate into "I've been raped," and I can't help but seek reassurance from my partner, Jan, that no harm has come to me. I'm trying to explore and understand the reasons for this in counselling even though part of me is scared of becoming overwhelmed. My OCD flares up (checking the pavement for contaminated needles) both before and after my counselling sessions to keep me stuck in that place of "I don't deserve to get better." Slowly but surely, though, I'm coming to realize that I do.

Thank you, Manya Zuba, for your support and encouragement over recent days: It means everything!

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