At the risk of my reader, Riorico, claiming that once again my posts are “all about me” and that I have a “need for attention” I have decided to make part four of my series about me.
The first three parts to this series have focused on the devastating physical, mental, and emotional problems that plague those who have been victimized as children by sexual predators. You can read them here: Part One Part Two Part Three
In this post I would like to share with my readers how seriously ill the incest made me and how much I have overcome as a result of working on myself in therapy for fourteen years. The purpose of this information is not to draw sympathy or attention to myself, it is to inform people that incest and child sexual abuse can cause severe damage to the victim’s immune system and vital organs, such as the heart and bladder, as well as affecting their psychological state and emotions. This post is also to show that there is hope for every survivor, no matter how badly they suffer.
Sixteen years ago I came down with an illness that doctors say has no cure or treatment. Sixteen years ago, I was scared out of my mind because I was suffering from incapacitating, frightening physical symptoms that caused me unbearable suffering. I spent countless hours in doctors offices, emergency rooms, and in Lab facilities having my body probed, poked, and scanned. After $30,000 in medical bills, the experts told me that they could find nothing wrong.
After a year with no diagnosis, an ear nose and throat specialist finally diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome. The diagnosis was then verified by two CFIDS specialists.
I remember sitting in the office of one of the specialists. I was frightened and full of uncertainty. The specialist said to me, “There’s good news and bad news about this disease”…”The good news is that you are not going to die, and the bad news is that you are not going to die.”
It was not until I was well into the labyrinth of the illness that I truly understood the depth and truth of his words. On the days when I was bed-ridden with a fatigue that is indescribable, I also suffered from chronic diarrhea, constant stomach aches, ringing in my ears, short-term memory loss, pain in my heart area, vice-grip headaches, choking for no reason, inflamed lymph nodes and dizziness.
Every night for years, as I lay my head on my pillow, my heart pounded so loudly in my ears that I thought it would stop from pure exhaustion. If I did manage to fall asleep I was soon awakened by a feeling of forgetting how to breathe and I woke up gasping for breath. This was my body’s reminder that I had been choked by both parents.
For a number of years, I awoke from nightmares so hellacious and tormenting, that they were beyond imagination — nightmares so vile and disturbing that I wanted to die when I woke up. For years I experienced sharp pains in my vagina. Pains that no doctor could find the origin for because they were caused by being raped by my father when I was in grade school.
When I managed to crawl out of bed during the day, meals caused me to want to vomit or I shoveled food in my mouth at alarming rates, because for me, food had nothing to do with sustaining my body. For me, food meant sex. About seven years ago, I started having more serious issues with food. I began to experience the feeling of having a full stomach all of the time –whether or not I had eaten. Then there were numerous days at a time when I could barely eat at all because food made me so nauseous and dizzy that I was afraid of eating. The fullness in my stomach was created by being forced to perform oral sex on a female family member.
Then there is the pathological hunger. A debilitating hunger that never ceased. Even when I was full or nauseous, I was always hungry. One day I ate four burritos and was still starving. This hunger has been a symptom that I have yet to find the root cause for. It has gotten significantly better over the years. The hunger is now bearable and does not come every day, but it is one of the very few symptoms that still hangs on, and one reason why I am still in therapy.
During these years, I continually suffered Shingles outbreaks. Shingles is a virus of the nervous system. It attacked my head and ears with pain, and a very ugly bubbly lesion always formed down the left side of my neck. Through therapy, I have been able to find the root cause of the Shingles outbreaks.
In 1997, four months before remembering that my father had sex with me as a child, my bladder erupted into one of the most excruciating symptoms of all. For four months I could barely urinate. I went to the bathroom twenty to forty times a day in a futile attempt to expel my urine. Each agonizing time, only a trickle came out. Gynecologists and a top urologist found nothing wrong –even after inserting a tube up my urethra. The next step they wanted to take was to put a scope with a camera up my urethra. I said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” I then chose to allow the therapy to help me because it was the only method of treatment that was healing my physical suffering. Thank God I listened to my instincts because after I finally remembered the incest, my bladder slowly became better and eventually healed completely.
Below is a list of the rest of the physical debilitations that I suffered during the process of memories surfacing and healing from incest:
Tightness in chest
Loss of sex drive
Seeing spots before eyes
Tachycardia (rapid heart rate) with minimal or no exertion, which may persist for long periods of the day, coming on at any moment and with no known cause.
Acne on the inside of upper thighs near vaginal area
Throbbing pain in upper left chest
Pain in heart
Could not inhale deeply
Pulling feeling in lungs
Swollen lymph nodes in right neck area and in lower abdominal areas
Pain inside wall of throat (different from a sore throat)
Terrible gas pains
Chronic sinus problems
Severe tooth pain with no known origin
Night leg twitches (known as “Restless Leg Syndrome”)
Reduced exercise tolerance
Pressure in head and neck area
Numbness of limbs
Clicking of heart
Short term memory loss
Vise grip headaches
Foggy and disoriented mind
Nerves shook and quivered so badly, it felt like a seizure might occur
Extreme sensitivity to sound, light, heat, and cold
Chronic lower back pain (this was caused by repressed rage)
Impaired speech and/or reasoning
Chills and night sweats
Pain in leg which struck for no reason and did not allow me to walk down the street.
Constant feeling of having a virus
Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Feeling as if about to black out
Burning sensation inside throat
Spitting up excessively
Seeing stars before my eyes
Pain in entire chest, as if being crushed
Swallowing or gagging sensitivity
As anyone can see, contrary to what some people might believe, it isn’t so easy to merely ‘move on’ ‘let it go’ and ‘stop being a victim.’ The body will not rest until the mind is at ease, and it took fifteen years of intensive therapy to rid my mind of the effects of incest. I was sexually assaulted, physically abused, psychologically manipulated, or felt unloved every day for over ten years. A person cannot wipe out that much trauma and worthlessness in a few therapy sessions, or even a few years of therapy sessions. People should not judge others for the amount of time they need to be in therapy, and I have noticed that I am a lot more psychologically stable than those who have criticized me for the amount of time it has taken me to heal.