Monday, July 14, 2008

Only just getting better.

I felt the need to post on here again after a long break; I just feel I’ve got so much to get out. I watched the 2 documentaries re: 7/7 on Channel 4 this week, and while found them hard to watch, ultimately, in reflection, feel better for doing so. I feel that finally after 3 years things really are starting to get better.

The last 6 months has been by far the hardest of all. The first 6 months I was just numb, and it was ok to still be bothered about what happened, the next few years were tough, but I still hoped things would work out, and that symptoms of PTSD would eventually dwindle, but after 2 & ½ years I started to try and force it out of my life and my mind, I was sick of it. And the more I tried to push it out, the more it came back, only with more vigor, and aggression.

Every train journey to work became a frantic imagining of disaster, I would wonder if someone had laid a sleeper across the track to de-rail us, what if the train caught fire, if we hit another train, and of course, what if the guy next to me had a bomb in his toolbox/bag/suitcase etc etc. Only my logic told me that if it was to happen again, it would be too obvious for it to be another young bloke with a home made bomb, so I would watch for what EVERYONE else was doing, and imagine how they might attack us. Then I would plan what I would do in each situation, how I would stem bleeding, and comfort people, try to calm the situation. The same would happen as a passenger in a car, and most terrifyingly, on aeroplanes. So every day would become a traumatic event in itself, in just as much detail as the one that really happened. It was on a flight back from Milan that I had my first mega panic attack; I thought I was going to have a heart attack. But all I could see was flames rushing down the plane at us.

After this I thought I was losing my mind, I felt I couldn’t control my thoughts and worried I would end up in mental hospital. I would break down all the time, and go out randomly wandering the streets, not wanting to go home, but not wanting to go anywhere. I really felt I was going mad. There were a few weeks when I was really close to killing myself to escape it. I think I was as close to doing it as you can get, without actually doing it. I thought about hanging myself, throwing myself under a train, even going back to King’s Cross and throwing myself under that train because I never really felt like I ever got out of there. I didn’t have a clue what was happening to me, and why I was getting WORSE after 2 & ½ years. I also in the midst of all this broke up with my girlfriend, she had helped me so much, but I felt bad for taking that from her, and ultimately didn’t know what I was thinking, or how I felt about things. It wasn’t fair on her.

I also didn’t know why I was worrying about all this, and not mourning the death of my mother, now 18 months ago. Her death was in itself sudden, I found out she had terminal cancer a day before she died. It is the fact all this distracted me from giving my mum the attention she deserves that angers me most about the bombs. The fact that in the middle of my most traumatic time, I missed out on processing her death, and am only now just beginning to work through that, now there is space for it.

But it is also, a reason why I think things worked out better in some ways too. Because after 7/7 I had to move home, and would tell everyone about what happened, over and over again. But it was hardest at night when I was on my own, except I was never really on my own, because Mum, with her crazy sleeping patterns would always be up. So she was always there to talk to at the hardest times, when I couldn’t sleep at 2.30am, or had an awful nightmare. And I got to be with her for the last 18months of her life, which I would have largely missed if I had been working away.

Things are LOTS better now. I had CBT therapy, and all I can say is that it really works. My therapist gave me a hard time, in a good way, and questioned and queried and contorted all my negative thought patterns related to the bombing and public transport. Till I learnt that, actually I didn’t have to stay in a constantly prepared state, and that I didn’t need to worry or process it anymore. I was done. And now after watching the recent documentaries, I really feel like it is done with. Yeah, I got really upset watching them, and if I think about that day I can bring it all back right down to second by second events. But then I am always going to remember it, and it will always be a horrible memory, but that’s all it is, a memory.

So now I feel like I am only just starting my career, re-starting my life. While I have worked over the past 3 years, it has only been the odd bit of freelance work, and a full days work would only be about 3 hours worth because that’s all I could do in the state I was in, if I could work at all. But it gave me something else to worry about, a tiny respite within all the other bad stuff that was constantly in my head.

I am now in the process of re-branding my business, finding premises and hopefully some grants to pay for materials, and cover some rent. I am going to advertise my skills, and hopefully be successful. Watch this space, or as soon as I have a business website up, I will link it, and you can watch that space instead!