I’ve ummed and ahhhed and tossed over the thought of writing this post for weeks now. Those of you who follow closely on Twitter would have caught some of the story when it happened, almost three weeks ago now. I haven’t mentioned on it on my blog. It’s part of a whole chunk of stuff that’s happened lately that I haven’t written about–except for that one big fuck up– because its just too close to this space that used to be a lot more anonymous that what it is now.
But… I blog a lot about mental health, and a lot of people read this blog for that very reason. A few weeks back, I had one of my first ever experiences with the crisis mental health system in Australia (keeping in mind that my husband was well beyond intervention by the time we reached the medical system); and to not write about it here feels, above all, cowardly.
The only reason for me not to write this post is because I am afraid. I said not long ago that I was no longer afraid of bullies. It seems I lied. I thought that I and the people I associated with had long grown out of that. I was wrong. I am freaking terrified of women who know exactly how what hurts most, and aren’t afraid to use it. I spent the day after this happened feeling sick every time my phone beeped, because the text messages and social media interactions just got nastier as the hours went by.
I’m scared of that happening again. I’m not going to lie about that– I’m not as brave as I pretend to be. I am scared that blogging this will inflame all that nastiness all over again.
But you what? Fuck that. Feel the fear. Put on your big girl panties and do it anyway.
That’s what being brave’s all about.
In light of what I’ve already said, from here on in it’s factual information on the events that occurred that night– as best I know for sure– mixed with my own rampant indignation. If anyone feels I’ve gotten any details wrong, please drop me an email and I’ll be happy to amend things to include your version of events. In fact, I’d be ecstatic– I’m still not exactly sure what the fuck happened here.
I think it’s suffice to say that the two main protagonists- one who we’ll call Louise in particular- were people I was very close to, had known for years, and knew more about me than most people do– almost everything there is to know, in fact. There is a very small circle of souls in this lifetime that I trust, completely, and, to me, as I am, now, in the After; trust is the only sacred commodity. And I trusted her implicitly.
But, at the time of this event, I had not spoken to either of these people for two weeks– bar a phone conversation, which I’ll recount to you in a moment. It began as a silly little argument that turned all kinds of petty, and then became that particular brand of nasty that only comes from fighting with people you know very, very well.
It felt like a high school drama. I don’t think any of us imagined it would turn out like this.
Leaving out major chunks of a story is frustrating. But, following two weeks of silence, the catalyst for all of this was a simple exchange of text messages. I won’t recount it all– it’s boring, and it was all ‘he said, she said’, the same argument rehashed. I will tell you that I sent a text message that ended like this…
“I know how nasty she can be- please don’t let her take that (my blog) away from me *** (name removed). When I said it would kill me, I mean it.”
And received one back that said this…
“Just call me please”
I then phoned this man– who I’m sure would want a pseudonym, so we’ll call him Elmer– and we had had a conversation that lasted half an hour or so. We discussed a lot of things I can’t even go into in this post– some of them might be related to what I’ve written here and here– and I cried and was in some distress. I was angry– I felt I’d been unfairly treated and this argument that had taken place was just another blow against me.
Suicide, self harm, even that concept that I’ve blogged about before– not so much wanting to die as waiting for it– none of those things were mentioned in that half hour. At one point Elmer inquired what I was doing, and I replied I was sitting in my outdoor laundry, smoking cigarettes. The conversation ended with both of it agreeing it was late, past our bedtimes, and we would talk another time.
Immediately following that conversation, I sent Elmer a text message…
“:( x “
…which he replied to with…
“chin up, your a trooper! Lol sleep tight”
And I guess it’s worth noting here that Louise– another pseudonym, naturally- was, at that stage, a follower of mine on Twitter, as was her partner. I Tweeted at roughly 11 pm that I was going to bed.
(OK. I’m going to break my own commentary here to apologies for giving you every boring detail. This is beginning to feel like an episode of CSI. But its necessary… I don’t want to leave any loopholes, any room for anyone to call me a liar. So I’m writing everything relevant, as objectively as possible.)
Following that text, I did the exactly what I said I was going to do– I went to bed, and fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
My children climb into bed with me most nights, sometime between the hours of one and four am. There’s certainly room– my bed feels huge, always, without my husband to take up the majority of it’s space. And how can I object to the warmth of two tiny people, one on either side of me, to shield away a bit of that cold loneliness?
The three of us were snug and tight in the darkness at 3am– just hours after I’d gone to bed– when I heard someone knocking at my window, and my mother calling my name.
That in itself didn’t strike me as as strange as it should have. I was half asleep, and I’m used to being woken suddenly from slumber and called into action when the sun is still sleeping– aren’t most parents? I think I thought it was morning, that my mother had my children the night before and was here to drop them off, and I’d slept in…
I’m not sure what I thought, really. I’m not a morning person. Ever. Especially at that time. I jumped out of bed in that stealthy, barely touching the blanket way that doesn’t wake the kids. And answered the door in my underwear and a singlet top.
I know… answering the door in your underwear is never the best idea. I think I thought it was just my mum– not that that really makes any difference, but whatever. Allow me to reiterate that it was 3 am. My mind was still catching up, fighting off the last of those foggy sleep hormones and trying to grasp what the fuck was going on.
“Lori,” and my mums voice is so very ca
lm and low, she’s trying so hard not to let it shake. And that’s when I wake up, completely. I have heard her speak in this tone before. For weeks on end, just after Tony’s death, as she cared for my children and watched me fall apart over and over again. It’s that tone of voice that starts it, that begins the trill of adrenaline in the rock that is my diaphragm and works it way through my body to a siren pitch.
“The police are here. They want to talk to you.”
My mums eyes are bright blue, a reflection of my own, and I can see the apology in them, the slight sadness and fear… and something else that I don’t quite identify until later. Don’t lose it, she’s trying to say. Keep calm. I know you will be angry, but you keep that temper of yours, the way I’ve been trying to teach you to since you could walk and talk.
She knows what’s going on. I don’t. But there are two police officers, a woman and a man, standing just behind her and my stepfather, who is silent and looks grave and stoic.
It’s not the police themselves that set me off, I discover that night, as I test the boundaries of my post traumatic stress disorder. It’s not the police as people…. it’s their flak jackets. Their vests, black and grey and meshed with compact pockets that bulge with equipment.
I don’t know why… the best I can come up with is that horrible, hot afternoon, being asked my husbands details with a crowd of neighbors standing around me. The shock of it hitting me– it was his birthday just yesterday, and his heart is beating but he’s not breathing, and it was his birthday just yesterday. All the while unable to look at the coppers face. Staring at that black, meshed vest that provided these officers all the bravery and protection they needed, faced with a normal house and a normal woman and a normal man who just happened to still have a noose around his neck until just moments before they arrived.
And that’s what was flashing through my mind, in that two seconds after I opened the door; before I came to my half naked senses and slipped very quietly back into my dark bedroom, my children still sleeping soundly, to at least put on some pajama pants.
My head is spinning and I wonder if I’m dreaming but I know I’m not and I want to go back to bed and what the fuck is going on here?
And that’s what I say when I return to my front door, to my front porch. “What is going on?” I’m too far in shock, too half asleep still, and I have nothing. My mind is numb of possibilities– there are no rushing thoughts of car accidents or death or trauma, all the normal reasons for a midnight knock on the door. All there is is a horrible, heavy, uncertain black dread that hangs behind my head and knots the muscles in my stomach until I feel nauseous.
”Now look, Lori– is it Lori, right, that’s how I say it?” (I hate this, I’ve studied social work and I know all about how to make people loosen up, warm toward you– getting them to say their own name works, almost every time; the friendly tone suggest comradarie against some greater evil. And even though I know what this cop is doing, it still works and I hate it.) “We’ve had a phone call at the station from your friend Louise. You know Louise, yeah?” I nod, dumbstruck, and wonder vaguely if I’m not having some kind of vivid, horrific flashback turned hallucination. “Well, she’s quite worried about you, she thinks you’re going to hurt yourself. So we though we’d better come and check you out.”
In that moment I am so relieved I almost laugh. They can’t be serious. I haven’t even talked to or heard from Louise in two weeks, and I tell them that, my voice shaking with thank–goodness–that’s–over laughter.
”Well, she’s rang us, apparently her and Elmer have been talking. You know Elmer too, right? Yes, you do. And you were on the phone to him earlier tonight?”
Yes, I say, hours ago. Three fucking hours ago. And when we hung up everything was fine and sent me a text and called me a trooper and what the hell is going on??
”So. You didn’t tell him you were going to kill yourself? Didn’t say you were going to hurt yourself?”
That’s when the tears come. I’d like to say I don’t cry much anymore, but that’s probably a lie. Compared to normal people, I cry a lot. But not as much as I used to. Sometimes I think that maybe we are only born with a certain amount of tears, and once you’ve cried a certain amount you just can’t squeeze out anymore sorrow, no matter how you’d like to. I proved myself wrong that night. I begin crying at that point, and it didn’t let up for the next five or so hours; ranging from a trickle of warm tears over swollen skin to heaving, heart breaking sobs that racked my whole body, filled my whole self.
I start to blabber, all tears and snot and distress and dismay. I feel as if I’ve slapped, hard, and my whole face is ringing from the force of it. I talked to him, I tell them, and I was upset, but I never threatened to take my own life, not at all, not even close. If nothing else, Elmer is not someone who I would take those things too– I have a small, select group of people who I love for that very reason, that I can show them my distress, in a clump, through an email or down the phone line… and Elmer is not one of those people.
At some point I notice there is an ambulance parked across my driveway, two female officers in blue jumpsuit uniforms standing halfway between it and my small front porch, where I was, by this point, defending my sanity to two coppers and my parents. My mum stepped up, stepped in, over and over, saying that I was fine, she had spoken to me just that afternoon and I was fine, and she had told the police that when they rang her and woke her at about a quarter to three that morning, asking her to meet them at my house in fifteen minutes. It makes no difference, nothing that she or I say, not the text messages I show them, nothing. These officers had made their decision before they even made that phone call to my mother.
“I’m fine, really, I say. I’m fine but I’m tired– I just want to go back to bed.” And I’m still thinking, naive and optimistic as I am, that this is where it will end, and now they can see I’m fine they will just leave me alone, let me be.
”Look love, your friend has very serious concerns about you–”
”She’s not my friend! Don’t call her my bloody friend! If she was that concerned about me she could have come and knocked on my front door!”
”Well, she’s concerned, and you can imagine the situation that puts us in.” This copper is patronizing, I want to hit her. “Imagine if we did nothing and come morning, you were dead? You’re going to have to come to the hospital and have the doctor assess you.”
”What? What do you mean? Look at me. I’m fine!”
The copper is doubtful, and who can blame her? I was fine. Now it’s three am and I’m standing in the chill of the gloaming in pajama pants and a singlet top, crying as though my heart was being broken into a thousand pieces. Again. And it was just the day before I lopped all my hair off, and it’s messy and sticking up and feels shorter than ever.
And on hearing that, that I am, somehow, going to hospital just five minutes after I’ve woken, when there is absolutely nothing wrong with me and I’ve kept myself safe for over a year now; I let out a deep, shaking wail and cover my eyes with my hands. All I can think of is my kids, tucked safe into the comfort of my residual body heat, still nestled in my bed. What happens if they wake up, to this? How much time do I have before that happens? My son, he’s an anxious little kid at the best of times; and most of what I s
aw that horrible afternoon, he saw too. Sirens have always scared him with the decibels they reach, but now an ambulance doesn’t need a siren to make him panic. As much I try to explain, over and over, that policemen are our friends and they are there to protect us, I can see the suspicion that lurks behind his eyes, and I wonder if he thinks, somewhere where he can’t even articulate it, that it was the police that took his father away…? Waking up to this, his mother crying and gathering her things, officers at the door… I don’t want to think about it too much now, and at the time all I could think was that that simply couldn’t happen, wouldn’t happen, sometimes God will protect little children from the worst of what’s he’s got.
This time, I was right, and God was on my side. My babies, bless them, they didn’t stir until the sun rose the next morning.
This copper, the female one, she’s young– my age– and slight and fragile. I don’t know if it’s an Australian thing or what, but there is an attitude that female police officers seem to take on– a blunt, abrupt, no–bullshit tone, a distance between themselves and the ordinary people they deal with. I suppose they have to– without size and gender on their side, they use what they’ve got to intimidate and take control. That’s their job. The other officer with her is even younger, maybe only six months above the rank of probationary, and I don’t remember him saying anything. I don’t remember what he looks like– my mind has molded his image into the same one as the officer who cried with me as I detailed, for the last time, my husbands name, address and date of birth in those last hours in the ICU.
”What if I refuse? What if I say I’m not going?”
“Then we will have to do it by force and take you anyway… you don’t have a choice in the matter. Might as well just go without a fuss, and let the doctor assess you, and if you’re fine as you say, you’ll be home my morning.”
I look to my mum. I’m sorry, she says, and the look is in her eyes in so helpless. I’ve told them you’re fine, I’m so sorry you have to do this.
I realize I really don’t have a choice, and I am so furious I could spit. I walk tiny circles on my front porch, still crying, smoking a cigarette and murmuring how this was bullshit, how could they do this, what about my kids, I haven’t even talked to her in two weeks, this is bullshit.
My mum assures me she will take care of my children. She speaks to me, softly and calmly, and tells me to get my things and go, don’t make a fuss and wake the kids, just go and we’ll deal with it in the morning.
”But, mum… I’m OK… I’m fine…”
I know, darling, she says. I know and I’m so sorry.
I grab my handbag, iPad, throw on jeans and layers of jackets against the cold. I tell my mum I’m so sorry, and thank her profusely for doing this, for coming out in the middle of the night, and it’s not thanks enough, it never will be.
I am shell shocked and I feel dead inside. I know this feeling too, I know all of this too well, I’ve been here before, and my mind is playing tricks on me, weaving one in with the other. It cold and drizzly and dark, but my head flashes with bright afternoon sunlight and the tones of suburban concrete, heat and sweat and tears.
The ambulance is worse. The ambulance officers are, all said and done, quite lovely– older women, maybe forty five, who both reminded me of teachers I’d had in primary school. One asks if I’d like to lay on the stretcher or sit in a seat and it’s on the tip of my tongue to scream that I will sit, thank you, I am not a fucking invalid and I am not even supposed to be here today.
Before I lose my composure the other chimes in lightly that I probably don’t want to be here at all and I manage to smile. I’m angry, I say to them, and I know it’s not your fault and you are just doing your job but I am so angry.
Name, age, Medicare card, what medication am I on, what have I been diagnosed with. Post traumatic stress disorder, I try to say, but I can’t because a memory I’ve made up has stolen my breath… I can see Tony, I can see through his eyes, the roof of ambulance, and it’s hot and there are people yelling and it hurts, oh god his head hurts so much and the shocks they are pumping through his body hurt too and he can see, just, but his vision is hazed in red…
And I know it’s not real, I know my mind is making this up– it can’t even be a flashback if I never saw it happen. But it feels real, I can feel every bit of it and I want to scream and I don’t. I spit out the acronym “PTSD” instead, and add, between hitching breaths laced with sobs, “and being in ambulance doesn’t help.”
”So, your husband committed suicide, is that right? Your friend says its the anniversary of his death.”
”It is not the anniversary of his death– that was over a month ago. And she’s not my friend, please stop saying that. She hasn’t bloody spoken to me in two weeks.”
”I think she was worried about you. She was trying to help.”
”Help?! By what, calling the cops and having me removed from my house and kids I the middle of night, that’s help? If she was that worried, really, she could have picked up the phone. If she’s that fucking worried about me, she could come to my house, hang out a load of washing for me, make me a cuppa, play with my kids for half an hour!”
”So you’re not suicidal?”
”You don’t think I’ve thought about that?! You don’t think I’ve wanted that?” (the ambo’s eyes widen and I see her mentally tallying this statement, adding it to her assessment) “I made that choice, months ago– I’m here. I’m sticking it out. I don’t get the option of dieing. Why won’t everyone just leave me alone? I’m just doing it. Every day. I’ve bought my house, my kids and I are happy…. I’m slogging it out and I take my medication and see my psych and I’m dealing fine and why won’t they just leave me alone?!”
I don’t realize it then– it’s not until I view the events of that night repeatedly, over and over, my vision shaded by hindsight that I see it– but that’s the moment she seems to realize what’s going on here, to see that I am, as I keep telling them, fine, not a suicide risk at all. But that assessment comes too late for me– in ten minutes we will be at the emergency department of a tiny rural hospital. My house is almost directly between this small, old cluster of medical buildings and the massive modern hospital my husband died in. With those hindsight goggles on, the relief that this hospital was chosen over the other is palpable.
The rest if the journey is bumpy and dark and the ambo, her assessment done, makes small talk with me about my kids, and this time I can answer, not like like last time, staring dumbly at a woman who was trying to normalize the most surreal situation in the world.
Just as we pull up to the hospital, she looks me in the eye and says she’s sorry. It’s the only apology I get off anyone all night. Back at my house, the police have left not long after I did, thanking my mother for coming, and she replies that as if she wouldn’t– if nothing else, there are two sleeping angels here to think of.
This tiny, ancient hospital is quiet, asleep in the early hours of the morning. The emergency department is dark and hushed, only a triage nurse on duty. Ambulance officers return my cards but forget my medication, I don’t notice until later and I don’t care. Before they leave, they take my blood pressure and note it down, and the medical routine of it seems so farcical and absurd I almost laugh.
And now there is nothing to
do but sit and wait.
And so I do.
My feet are tapping tattoos on the Lino floor and my whole body is still shaking with spitting anger. A mothers fury at being taken from her children. The rage that is felt by anyone, but white middle class civil libertarians in particular, when they are deprived of liberty. And that eats like acid– I had no choice. A simple phone call, combined with the stigma of a suicide and my own mental health diagnosis… and there I was. Essentially held captive. My mind is running with images of women in long gowns and bloomers, tucked away in dark rooms and fed horrible therapies, enemas and electric shocks and dunked in freezing water, the diagnosis being female hysteria.
And the irony of it is, I cannot be too angry. I can sit here and shake with fury and sob and pour salt down my cheeks, but I do it silently. I’ve felt it from the moment I discovered what the police where a my door for– do not be too angry. Do not lose the plot. The will schedule you and lock you up.
And here, in the hospital, waiting for the doctor to come and make his assessment, decide my fate, it is worse. I’m aware of every action, even tear, every muffled, hitched sob. I am paranoid. I have every fucking right to be.
After ten minutes– twenty, maybe? I do not know– the triage nurse leads me to a tiny white assessment room. I flop myself, shoes still on, onto the thin, uncomfortable bed, curl into a ball, and cry more. I whisper into the silence, quiet enough so no one hears and mistakes it for psychotic behaviors, wishes that sound like prayers to my dead husband to help me, save me, hold me, where is he and why did he leave me? I grab my phone, began sending mostly incoherent and panicked text messages to the few people I still trust– at this point, I’m still stupid enough to include Elmer. I even log onto my Facebook to send a short message to Louise, which sums up to ‘don’t ever talk to me again’, but using language my mother would be ashamed of.
And I cry some more.
Eventually, finally, the doctor on call enters. He’s young and detached, a general practitioner with no mental health specialty to speak of, and looks at me as if I’m some kind of exhibit in a zoo. I recount my story, the pitch of my voice rising. Reminding myself not to be too angry, don’t sound too paranoid, just give him the facts so we can get the fuck out of here. He asks if it’s the anniversary of my husbands death and I almost scream– it seems this information, incorrect as it is, has been taken as pertinent and passed down from emergency operator to police to ambulance to hospital.
No, I say, as calmly, as I can. That was six weeks ago. Six weeks can be a long time in grief.
He looks me over, head to toe, one last time, and I feel his eyes peeling me for bruises, cuts, tracks, any damage, self inflicted or otherwise. Apart from a few tattoos and piercings and hair cropped close to my skull, now standing up in an unattractive faux hawk; there are none.
As he begins to ask me routine questions about my meds, my shrink, my support network, I see him lean over my notes– so far blank, save my personal details, and write one word, in capital letters– DISCHARGED. I am so relieved I begin to cry again, and remind myself to stop or he may change his mind.
“OK. You can go now.”
“Thanks a lot”, I reply with all the sarcasm I can manage, and I’m dialing my mum before he’s even left the room. I know, the police told my mum before we left the house- I have to make my own way home.
I manage five minutes of sitting, waiting, legs bouncing, my head thumping and my eyes red and sore, in that tiny white room before it’s too much like the Quiet Room and I need to get out, I have to leave before I start screaming.
“I’m going,” I say to the triage nurse and she nods, barely taking her eyes off the paperwork she’s examining. The doctor who examined me, the only other person there, doesn’t even look at me.
And I walk out. Just like that. It’s half past four in the morning, I’m half an hour from home, I have no transport.
Just like that.
Thank goodness for my mother.
Standing in the frosty dark, chain smoking cigarettes and waiting for my mum, I phone Elmer, not caring that I am waking him before his alarm would go off. He is half asleep and confused and I know exactly how that feels. Maybe it’s better for honest responses. He assures me that after we finished our phone all at midnight– it feels like days ago, weeks ago now– he went to bed, and didn’t speak to Louise at all.
I am so confused and my head is spinning and when my mum gets there I start talking, trauma and grief and disbelief spilling out the whole half hour drive home.
Its half past five before my mother and I return to my house, where my step–father is watching my still sleeping children, and I say a little prayer of thanks to their dad that they didn’t wake while I was gone. And I wait until they do wake, and have breakfast with them and dress them, all shades of normal except for the fact that their grandparents have joined us today, and isn’t that lovely?, and my children think its wonderful.
Normality done, assured for the day, and I run. My mother– again, bless her, what I would do without her I don’t know– takes the day off work and let’s me go.
As serendipity would have it, I have an appointment with my shrink already booked for that day, and I watch her eyes widen in disbelief as I recount the story, the first time she’s heard it. Despite taking her details, no one thought to call my psychiatrist to tell her that one of her patients had been taken to hospital for an emergency psychological assessment.
She is angry for me, indignant for me, and I finally feel justified– I am not a crazy person. I am not crazy and the police should have stopped this before it got that far.
I get at least five more messages that day, from Louise and Elmer and two of their friends– text and FaceBook, and, although this is hearsay it continued on Twitter into the day after as well.
Many things were said. I think the one that hit me deepest, an icy spike in stomach, was that “threatening suicide is a very serious offense, as I should know.”
The incident went into both police and hospital records as a malicious mental health report, and I’m told it can’t possibly happen again for that very reason, that the police will be more cautious next time.
I don’t believe it. I think these officers made their decision– that I was being taken to hospital, whether I liked it or not, the moment they heard that word in association with my husband’s death- ‘suicide’.
That awful, cloudy, toxic stigma. It follows me everywhere I go.
These are the facts, as I know them. As I said, if anyone has anything to add or clarify, please email me– to be totally honest, I’d love to to know what actually happened that night. Any extra detail much appreciated.
Rock and a hard place, hey? The police can’t ignore a mental health report. Nor can they lay charges ev
en if the report is deemed incorrect, or malicious– for very obvious reasons. No one wants to discourage people from accessing the system when there is a genuine threat to anyone’s safety.
But the onus of risk assessment lays firstly with the police. The fact that my mother– who had talked to me much more recently that the reporter– assured them I was fine, and the fact that they obviously woke me from a deep slumber; those should have been enough, logically, to tell them I was not at immediate risk. There were other options available to them here– take my mothers assurance that she would stay with me. Check on me in the morning. Alert my shrink to the situation and have me check in with her in the morning.
Instead, they made their decision before they assessed the situation. And I have no doubt my husband’s suicide- over twelve months ago now, a different Lori, a different life, was a huge influence there.
The attitude, stigma and education level of the NSW police force toward people with mental health problems has come a long way in the last ten years. Not far enough. There is not enough education, not enough training.
When on the phone to my mother, the police office told her not to call me before they got there, not to knock on my door if she happened to arrive there first. I’m still baffled by this, as was my psychologist– wouldn’t the best idea be to get in touch, get someone talking…?
And, strangely, when the police did arrive at my house, at the same time as my mother, they seemed alarmed that there was a light on inside. As my mum explained, with small children there is always a light inside– our hallway light burns all night.
But why, if they thought I was suicidal and in distress, where they surprised there was a light on inside? Shouldn’t I have been awake anyway?
Again, ironically, I’m lucky– had the GP I saw decided he was unable to properly assess me– which would not have been much of a stretch given his lack of mental health training– I could have easily sat in the emergency room for twelve hours, waiting for the local emergency mental health crisis team. I could have really lost my temper, and become an involuntarily patient for a minimum of 72 hours, and anywhere up to twelve weeks.
Put a sane person in a psychiatric institute, and it can become very difficult to get them out again.
Had my mother not been contactable, my option would have been to wait for a DOCS (social services) official, who would sit with my children while I went to be assessed.
Had my mum not have been able to pick me up, I may still be standing outside that small hospital, chain smoking cigarettes.
A lot of things could have happened. They didn’t. But that was only by a the most finite breadth, a tiny tip of fate’s scales.
I amaze myself with how much the whole thing fucks me up, how quickly I spiral down, how intense those flashbacks can still be.
And then I amaze myself with how quickly I dust off and recover.
I’m so accustomed to PTSD now, so accustomed to a kick in the guts, so used to saying goodbye to friendships; within a fortnight this is just another blip on the radar.
Sad, but true.
I am made of fucking steel.