I’ve been really challenged since Thursday. Thursday was my volunteer day at the local mental health drop-in, and (I thought) the anniversary of my mother’s untimely death from AIDS related illness. Actually I got the day wrong, I was somewhat alarmed to realise. The actual anniversary was Wednesday the 6th of October, which meant I spent the whole of Thursday under a misapprehension.
Part of the reason I remember this date with such exactitude (I’m not usually so good at remembering anniversary’s) is that it is the same day as D’s sobreity birthday. That date I would never forget, strangely enough. I was so obsessed with D. Not that I remember D’s actual birthday, although I think it may be in June/July. But D wasn’t my mother. A mother, has always been there, at least in theory, whether or not that’s a good thing, which, in my case I’m not sure that it was — our relationship was so stressful, troubled, and to be perfectly frank, she wasn’t very nice to me. Perhaps (I’m never quite sure) she wasn’t very nice period.
Everything is such a long story at the moment (she said wearily). This is part of the overwhelm I’ve been in since Thursday. Everything feels so very complicated.
Back to Thursday.
Actually I think I wrote about the events of Thursday here a few days ago. I really did not have a very good day. In many ways it was a good day — I was sober, I had a job to do, much of my day was a success. I made two dishes with one of the guys at the drop-in place; one of my favourite clients. All of the food was eaten. No blood was spilt. I stayed all my hours; arrived on time and left on time. Despite these positive factors I felt bloody awful. The reason I felt bloody awful was that I was (it took me about two days to realise though, to be able to think straight and get any sort of clarity) that I was majorly triggered by one of the clients.
When I say majorly triggered it isn’t the easiest thing in the world to explain what I mean. On the one hand I felt as though I had been hit by a ten ton freight train, on the other, absolutely nothing appeared to have happened at all. It was an extremely odd sensation. If you’d been watching me on CCTV, you probably would have thought I was having a perfectly ordinary day, but this would have been very far from true. My day was about as far from ordinary as it is possible to imagine.
I’d like to tell you about it. In detail. So you would really understand exactly what I’m talking about. But were I to do that it would probably take me all night, and I want to watch TV soon (The Informer on Netflix). I’m not even sure one night would suffice, it may even take a week, or longer. It involves such a very long story, with so many in’s and outs, twists and turns and background information. And this, my friend, is part of the problem with Thursday — it put me sort of outside the realm of human communication. And that is what made me feel so very bad and so very very overwhelmed.
Who could I tell? What should I do? Because something was going to have to be done, and I didn’t feel confident in my ability to make the right choice. Doing the right thing felt absolutely vital. But I didn’t know what it was.
What I wanted was someone to tell me what to do, so that I didn’t fuck up. Maybe I just — wanted my mum — or some version of a mother I never had. But therein lay the problem, or one of them. Who was going to listen to me tell a story that took a week to recite? Nobody has that sort of time. Come Friday, I did manage to call a couple of people, so I was certainly going to at least try and condense the issue, and there were two people at least, who I trusted enough to attempt to impose myself upon their good natures, and allow them to tell me what I must do, but neither of them (would you believe it) were available.
Eventually (on Saturday) I managed to recite a massively abbreviated abridged edition of the Bad Day to A, a woman who accompanied me to my mother’s grave to plant pansies, heather and blue grass. I did this without actually going into the affairs of the day in any detail. I framed it as a ‘work issue’. In a sense it was a work issue. A work issue complete with PTSD attack. A work issue complete with psychic attack that left me bleeding invisible blood. I didn’t completely leave out this part in the narrative, instead I summed it up by saying a very bad thing happened. A didn’t ask what it was, and I didn’t tell her. Instead we discussed the drop in and whether it was a good idea to continue as that was the action I was focussed on: Should I stay or should I go?
As a result of this conversation I decided that the action I would take is to leave my job. To never go back. I would also potentially discuss what happened with my therapist this week and anyone else I felt like telling. And, like I said earlier, I had actually already spelled out the whole grisly business here.
Writing about it hadn’t made me feel better though. I think the effort left me feeling like writing and emotion are basically inimical to one another (if that’s the right word). This added to my burden because writing has always been an outlet for me. It is my go-to safe space. In the past, I always felt that so long as I could write about my feelings, nothing could ever harm me ever again. And here I even have readers, which is basically beyond my wildest dreams. I have found my footing. Destiny has come to pass. There is nothing left to achieve (apart from continuation). I have found my form like a Bruno Ganz angel who tumbles to the earth clutching his piece of armour. So Thursday had even stolen my writing vocation. Imagine that!
It took all the effort under the sun to sit down at my keyboard today.
And all of these things said, I still wasn’t sure exactly what the problem was. This is what I was dealing with as a result of Thursday.
It was on Saturday night that it finally twigged. I had a label: PTSD. I thought: you’ve been triggered into a major attack of PTSD. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
It was like I didn’t know who I was anymore. My whole memory system had shut down. When I looked in the mirror, I no longer recognised myself. I couldn’t think. There were a hundred trillion things and nothing at all whirring around my head all at once. It was like a flash of illumination — ah, it’s PTSD. An event that, since I had started to get my brains back late on Saturday, and the offending incident occurred Thursday morning at 10.15, had taken all that time to recede. This is what you are dealing with, I told myself. This is what it is.
The flash of illumination calmed me down a bit. After that I started to feel a little more OK again. But I still didn’t exactly feel that I had the problem licked. Far from it. I had still been placed strangely beyond words. Beyond the reach of the bridge of language that connects me to other human beings, especially people I want to be connected to. I still didn’t feel like I could write. I wasn’t even sure, and I’m still not certain, that what actually happened on Thursday at 10:15 was really the thing that was unravelling me.
I feel knackered now I’ve said all that. I don’t feel able to write more about it today. So what I’m going to do is to come back to this story on an ongoing basis, until I feel that the matter is settled. Hopefully that will be tomorrow, but I cannot guarantee it.
Until then my comrade. Until then.