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.