If you haven’t visited my One Regard blog before, welcome. This is where I began my blogging journey. I started as a novice, no idea what this blogging thing was all about. I had no purpose beyond curiosity and a desire to find my voice. It was here I discovered that online writing always finds an audience. No matter how small and trivial, someone out there wants to read it.
I haven’t written here for years, but recently I’ve felt the need to bare my soul again, and this seems a more suitable home than over at my education focused blog, About Teaching.
If you read About Teaching, you’ll know that I’ve been going through a depression recently.
My GP determined that on this occasion, the depression is caused by anxiety. Anxiety makes sense to me, because, unlike earlier depressions, this has also been characterised by a high level of distress and frequent panic attacks. I can barely sleep, concentrate or make decisions about the smallest things. I’m paralysed with indecision: should I clean the bathroom or the living room? I don’t do either because I’m too worried about getting it ‘wrong’. I find this so hard to accept. Is not who I usually am.
It’s a relief to have a diagnosis. To have a professional confirm that I really am experiencing this.
There are times, like just a few minutes ago, where I feel almost normal again. But, once I notice, I become seized with horror, thinking perhaps I’ve imagined it all and there’s nothing wrong. I’ve made a fuss, over reacted and invented the whole thing. I become appalled that I had to take an entire week off work and now I’m getting treatment for a problem that was all in my mind. Is it munchausen syndrome? This fear nags at me, I become distressed and teary, and my mood plunges back to its former low. And then I’m relieved, so relieved to be sad again, because in a strange way, that means I’m sane.
I’m sure, my GP and therapist will help me to understand more about why this is happening. But I do have a theory about why it’s occuring now.
Years ago, I had a traumatic experience which plagued me for a long time after. A sound or a sight would trigger a flashback. I’d be back there, re-living those moments, terrified out of my wits, screaming out or collapsing in fear. I should have, but didn’t seek help. I just avoided situations that would cause me to re-live it and tried to push through. Over time, the flashbacks became infrequent, and finally disappeared altogether. Looking back now, I think that I was suffering post traumatic stress disorder. So much of what I’ve read about that match my experience.
It was a long time ago, and I barely think about it now. But when I do, the fact I could remember it without emotion convinced me I was healed.
A few weeks ago I read something, which I think, acted as a trauma trigger. I just kept thinking about that event again, but with strong emotion once more. And, I’ve found myself ruminating over not just that, but all sorts of painful events from my past. Some were traumatic, others were just awfully sad. There are a lot of memories – you don’t get to my age without exposure to pain and sad events.
A friend of mine, who is also a counsellor, suggested to me yesterday, that this might be an instance of chaining. Where one uncalled memory, triggers another uncalled memory and another, and another, and another.
Her suggestion feels right to me. It would explain why I wake in the middle of every night and find myself re-experiencing emotions that belonged to events of a former time.
Today’s unbidden memory was of Cameron, Shannon and Michaela Howie. Cameron and Shannon were close friends of ours, and their daughter, Michaela was just 15 months old. They were killed in a car accident back in 2003. We grieved for a long time and I’ve been grieving again today. Their deaths were tragic, and avoidable. They should have led such full lives.
If it was possible to break our hearts more than losing Cameron and Shannon, it was the loss of Michaela, who hadn’t been alive long enough to be known well beyond her family, or to have any sort of legacy. We will carry our memories of her parents with us for a long time, but of Michaela, there are very few.
Not wanting her to be forgotten, we worked with a group of their closest friends and Warringah Council to have a children’s park built in Michaela’s name. It’s a beautiful site over Dee Why beach that is always filled with playful toddlers. If you ever bring your own children to that park, spare a thought for the little girl it was named after.
Vale Cameron, Shannon and Michaela. May you rest in peace.