Fight or flight

I’m like everyone else, I’m waiting for me to feel better about myself. Unfortunately, I’ve come to understand that I am not going to feel better and that these past eight years of being relentlessly sad have taken their toll on the way my mind works.

I never accepted that I had post-traumatic stress disorder because all I was sad about was that Clea was dead. I couldn’t have cared less about the trauma of the tsunami or how many other people had died. I only cared about Clea being dead. That is what I was and am so very sad about.

I have done everything that is advised – I keep fit, I eat healthily, I don’t drink too much alcohol, I practice mindfulness or meditate, I sleep OK, I still work. But none of it has managed to keep the demons at bay. What would I be like if I didn’t do all those things? Locked up in an institution (with my father)?

I have to accept that being sad all the time and being very, very sad some of the time is not normal for others but it is part of my life. I have to accept that not being able to make decisions and not trusting my own judgement is a result of the tsunami, after all it was my decision to stay on the beach that day. I have to accept that decision. I have to accept the theory of fight or flight in the face of extreme adversity and I am beginning to understand how my brain functioned or did not function that day. What I did was shut down in order to survive which is why I didn’t try to save my daughter or my sons. It is what I do on a daily basis – decide whether it’s fight or flight (I’m sure many of us feel that way).

I am depressed. I have been depressed for many years. It is affecting my personal life and my working life. I cannot make decisions. I was rated as underperforming at work at the end of last year (topping off a shit year) which I guess means that I have been found out as the interloper I have always felt myself to be. But it also means that people think that I should be ‘better’ or ‘over it’ by now. Or that they’re very mean to people over the age of 50!

I think I was also in that frame of mind, I was thinking like them. I was beginning to think that I should be fine, that I should be able to cope when something hits me from the side. I know that I’m not the best worker. I wouldn’t be in the top group ready for promotion. I do not volunteer to work for the sake of working. I try not to stay back late and work like a dog. I do my job and I do it competently. I do not tell them that my life unravels every now and then or that I cannot even begin to feel fine when I miss my daughter so badly. And I know that those choices really annoy my managers, but those choices have kept me sane for the past eight years and I would like to keep it that way. I will never be like those people and they will never understand people like me.

I have always been wary of people thinking that I am using my daughter’s death as an excuse particularly at work. But I must be strong to have managed some semblance of control for the past eight years without acknowledging the complete mess beneath. I have kept it from my husband, I have kept it from my work mates. I do not want anyone to feel sorry for me because I always believed that I could cope. And I still believe that.

I did go to another counsellor not long ago. They said the same things that all counsellors have told me, and I know what I have to do. I have to be kind to myself. I have to find time for myself. Step by step I will feel as though I am creating a space of peace. One day. But that does not mean that something won’t up set the apple cart. Something always throws you off the path – a lie, a judgement, petty things or important things.

Today, Clea would begin Year 10. Her brothers rode off on their bikes not long ago to begin Year 8. And I have decided to work from home today to create for myself a small space of peace.

About huntersoledad

Mother of three. Bereaved mother of one. Survivor and victim of 2009 Samoan tsunami. Could be if would be writer.
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3 Responses to Fight or flight

  1. Cindy Tremain says:

    Trudie I can only imagine what your going through. I must admit I having been reading your stories and it has made me think long and hard about life .I never throught I would have a long life because of my conditions, I live a day at a time I’m so grateful for my life, I never though I would be around to welcome grand babies and become a Nan but I have three beautiful granddaughters another granddaughter due in April and another grand baby due at the end of April and I treasure them every day that I’m alive . I wish there was something I could do for you or say that would make you smile but I thank you for making me see what I have now and treasure every day that comes. Thank you for showing me through your grief for Clea to savour everyday that I am alive. I hope you find some kind of peace within

  2. Livonne says:

    I truly hope that one day you will smile again and the smile will be genuine.. but it’s a long hard road. I’m coming up to the 23rd anniversary and I can’t say it’s easier but I have learned to live with it and my smile is now genuine. No one can really ever understand, even those of us who are also bereaved parents as every circumstance is so different.. You get up each day and you put one foot in front of the other. That’s all anyone can ask of you. Anyone who actually thinks there is a time limit to grief has never grieved. Please take care of you xxx

  3. One day at a time…some days are better than others. I, too, get up each day and put on my “I’m okay” mask and go to work, that mask hiding what’s really going on underneath it and inside of me. It’s exhausting. Living without a child is exhausting.

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