Despite all my efforts and success(!) in treating myself well and recovering, I feel like my anguish over this sexual assault that happened to me over a year ago still subtly manifests itself in many aspects of my life. And it is precisely the "subtle," diffuse nature of these symptoms that makes me uncertain as to how best to proceed. Details inside.
I am high-functioning and no longer meet the strict clinical criteria for PTSD or depression. However, I can sense various disturbances that I don't know how to quite iron out. It's hard to pinpoint all the specific issues-- many times, I don't immediately recognize them as a manifestation of my reaction to the assault until I reflect a bit. Most of symptoms are seemingly minor or what I think of as "subclinical". For example:
For a while, I thought that I felt cut off from people... but I realized this week that it's not exactly that-- it's that I've been actively trying to avoid
people. I've been triggered by a few perfectly well-intending, accepting friends once or twice. I must've responded by avoiding people altogether to minimize the risk of being triggered. At the same time, I've felt this need to meet and talk to people to fill some void, so I've been having a bunch of pleasant-enough conversations with strangers. These conversations are super fun and enlightening in their own right, but they're not something that can really make up for closer and longer-term relationships/friendships. This isolation is starting to catch up to me.
I also feel that I'm on this ongoing mission to separate myself from my body. I've done yoga and regular exercise and improved my sleep hygiene, and I'm sure that has all helped keep depressive symptoms at bay! But I've noticed that despite my efforts to respect my body, I've felt compelled to objectify myself, almost as if to convince
part of myself that my value to men is primarily sexual in nature. I feel like my body, my sexuality... somehow does not belong to me anymore. I've developed mildly disordered eating habits that I'm almost certain are associated with the assault (although my nutritional status is fine). I am also absolutely disgusted with what turns me on sexually, in the exceedingly rare instances that I am turned on at all. I haven't had sexual contact since the assault, but there was this
issue that I posted about several months ago, too.
I recognize that recovery takes time and pans out differently for everybody, although I also can't imagine living the rest of my life feeling like this. Will this dull ache ever go away? I am so tired
of dragging this around. I feel like if I let this fester, I'll be on track to missing out on many facets of an enjoyable life, even though it may not seem that way to most outsiders: I'm active in my community, doing fine in school, traveling around, socializing... all that. Everything appears great. I wish I could feel that way.
I am currently in therapy and like my therapist, but it feels like there are no "real" issues at hand to address. In other words, I'm confused because my symptoms were a lot more straightforward to deal with when they consisted of outright flashbacks, panic attacks, acute guilt and depressive symptoms. Now that it has subsided into this subclinical haze, I don't know where to go from here. Do you have any advice for me?