June 20, 2020
Sharing this is tough...But here we go. Last month I was walking through Costco wearing a mask due to the new Covid-19 rules and after 5 minutes I started to feel…fear, anxiety, and panic. I had to talk to myself for the next 45 minutes in the store. "Come on girl, get your shit together…it's just a mask…Breathe, you’re almost done with your shopping. Inhale, exhale…" Was this mask causing me to have a panic attack in the fricken Costco…really girl!?
Over the past 20 years I have suffered with some form of claustrophobia. Tight spaces but also clothes. I know, kinda strange. I would be lying in bed and be overwhelmed with anxiety….GET THESE LEGGINGS OFF ME NOW!!! I would have to jump out of bed and rip my pants off to get relief. I never really thought much about it other than maybe...wow your weird!
I started doing a little research…
I found that my sexual assault that occurred in my early 20's could have caused me to have a form of PTSD that makes me feel claustrophobic. Could this be why the mask makes me feel so suffocated? My attacker drove my face into the dirt, I couldn’t see, it was dark, I couldn’t take a breath. He pinned my body down, I was powerless and I couldn’t move. His weight was heavy and dark. Was the feeling of this mask making me live that moment again in the Costco aisle? Was this why even the lightest of clothing can cause me to dive outta bed and rip off my clothes?
I started to think of the night I was raped again, I started to see all the details, feel the cool air that night and even smell the cigarettes on his clothing as he laid on me. I hurt to think of this. But now 20 years later is this rape still haunting me thru a mask?
I begin looking more into it. I am not the only one, more survivors were talking about the mask and claustrophobia they suffer as well. I WAS NOT ALONE. After a sexual assault there are feelings trauma, guilt, shame, fear. You push thru it, you start living the best you can every day. But could something as little as a mask trigger this fear for me again. Was this real? Yup, sure is. I went thru all the normal reactions after an assault…the nightmares, the distrust in everyone I meet and the feeling of always being on my guard. These are all normal feelings to have. You never think that claustrophobia could be another effect.
Did I have PTSD from my rape causing me to be claustrophobic? Claustrophobia is just one issue that can be related to the traumatic aftermath of a rape. So after all this I have decided I cannot wear a mask. It's not political, I'm not making a statement. I just can't. If it is required, I cannot go in. This mask triggered something in me that was unhealthy for my recovery, even 20 years later. I know I am not the only one suffering from this. If you see someone out and they are not wearing a mask, be kind. They may have a story that is different from yours that makes it impossible to cover their face.
Although sharing this is scary, makes me feel vulnerable and even causes me pain to write, if it helps you to know you aren't alone, it is worth it. If you are feeling this fear and anxiety, just know you are not alone. I am always a shoulder for you.
So while the world feels it necessary to require you to cover your face, I'll be over here breathing in the fresh air.
, Owner Carry Girl Gear
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