Cami Bunderson is the muse and curator behind the super successful Journal To Happiness Instagram account and blog. In her bio, she describes herself as a “🗝 depression escape artist. 💪🏼 scar bearer. 😌 smile wearer” and after getting to know her, we couldn’t agree more.
What’s most amazing about the unbridled transparency she gives to the world is her desire and passion to give back. The mission with her Instagram and blog is to help other men and women overcome their depression, with the ultimate goal to turn it into a full fledged organization. That’s called making an impact.
This story gets real. Like, really real. Cami shares an unfiltered account of her own experience with depression here, detailing the aftermath of her rape at age 14. We pick up after that here, where Cami offers advice to women who might have experienced similar scenarios.
Remember: you are not alone.
“Do not be the frog in boiling water”
I want other girls to know (or anyone else this applies to) that if a human being respects you as a human being and as an individual; one who hurts and thinks and feels for her/himself, they will not push something you don’t want onto you.
If you do not feel safe around someone, if you have a bad gut feeling about someone, even if you think you are being silly, get away from them. No good comes from that.
Do not be the frog in boiling water. Do not let someone slowly take your innocence, or your integrity, or your self-worth away from you.
Stop them. And stop them immediately.
The reason I started cutting is, as it turns out, kind of complex.
So I was in therapy for a bit, and one of our big hurdles was the cutting issue.
After a few sessions of digging, we discovered something interesting. When I was 14, nobody knew the truth. I got no help, I got no validation; I got raped and then I got bullied.
No one knew about the pain that was caused by someone else. No one could see that I was truly suffering.
Now if you think about it, cutting is quite the opposite. It is pain that I control. ME. No one else.
It is evident there on my body; you cannot deny that there is a gash in my skin. The cuts and scars validated themselves.
We also discussed and realized that when I did hurt myself, I was very specific. Each stroke meant something.
I was validating all of my pain, all of the rumors about me and the cheating and the hurting and the fighting – right there on my skin.
Tracing my cutting habits back to the incident when I was 14 was HUGE for me. It helped me move on a bit from the incident and helped me mentally separate what I am going through now vs. then.
Therapy saved my life. Not just once.
But multiple times. And if I continue to practice the coping skills I learned, it will save me as long as life itself allows me to live.
I want to tell people who are hesitant about therapy one big misconception – therapy is NOT just a stranger who has an unbiased opinion who can tell you what you should or should not do to change your life.
In my experience, my therapist was able to dig into the psychological paths of my background and explain some of my behaviors and help me fix what needed fixing.
Down to the core.
It was not just some, “Well how does that make you feel?” talking bull crap.
It was deeeep.
I didn’t think anybody like him would ever wander into my life
I’ve only been dating my boyfriend Isaak for a little while now but he’s incredible. I didn’t think anybody like him would ever wander into my life.
He doesn’t try to change me or belittle me or what I’ve been through.
There are times where he simply doesn’t understand what I’m going through, but that has never stopped him from loving me regardless and supporting me even if it means just holding me while I cry.
He is an angel, for reals.
Getting to a place where you love yourself can be pretty dang complex.
There’s honestly no “right” or “wrong” way to do it. You just…. do it.
For me, it took a lot of alone time.
It took a lot of lists of what I want/need to change about myself, and what I already love about myself.
It took months of crying myself to sleep because I just wanted to numb the pain again but knew that it would prolong my pain.
It can take so much, depending on where you’re at.
Here’s a secret though; something I’ve learned along the way that I wish I could go back and tell myself…. Just ACT like you love yourself and work on bettering yourself BECAUSE you love yourself.
Stop telling yourself you need to change and THEN you’ll love yourself – that’s not how it works.
Self-love comes first.
EDMR Helped me process what happened; it helped me heal.
Overcoming PTSD during sexual encounters with my partner is honestly still not a perfect practice of mine.
One of the biggest benefactors was a treatment I did in therapy.
It’s called EMDR (eye movement desensitization reprocessing) and yes, to be honest, it kind of is one of those weird things you would imagine happens in trauma therapy.
Basically you hold these two little plates that fit in your palm and they vibrate, one after another.
You go through a process of remembering the memory and allowing it to pass through your mind along with any other emotions that surface, but you do not linger on anything. They simply pass.
A lot of people don’t realize that trauma causes an actual sickness in your brain if you don’t allow yourself to fully process everything. But EMDR helped me process what happened at age 14.
It helped me heal.
It is amazing.
My Journal to Happiness
So my plan with JTH is to turn it into an organization that hosts events to raise awareness and money to help fund young teens with depression to get the help they need!
Whether that be therapy, trauma treatment, medications, I don’t care; as long as I can raise money to get people help so they can live and learn to love life, that is the ultimate fulfillment to me.
One of my favorite quotes…
…Is this: “The best way to get through the hard times is to simply get through them.”
I honestly can’t remember where I heard that or who said it, but for me, it says it all.
If I could, I would tell her that she is amazing.
If I could go back and talk with who I was 5 years ago, I would tell her that she is amazing.
I would tell her how much I love her and how much her efforts matter.
I’d remind her to stay close to her mama and trust her pops, and call all of her family members on their birthdays.
I’d tell her not to get attached to people who use her, and that when she gets her heart broken that it’s ok because she’s got something amazing coming soon.
The most important thing I would tell myself 5 years ago, just before all of my cutting and my suicide attempts, is that at age 22, she is madly in love with life.
I will end by saying this:
Your actions define your life. If not now, eventually.
DO things that lead to happiness and peace.
Learn. Forgive. Grow. Work hard.
Better yourself every single day because when you stop and take a look behind you after a year of just growing and truly trying your hardest, you will be so amazed at where you are.
Find Journal to Happiness here!👇
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