P.T.S.D – Finding the new normal.

So,  I just feel compelled to write a note today about the journey I have been on since the 3rd June when I was involved in the terrorist attack at London Bridge where eight people tragically lost their lives.

The evening started as just a dinner with some friends – a rare chance for me to be out in London, leaving the kids at home with my husband.  I never go out in London Bridge – Soho was my old stomping ground when I worked in Leicester Square, but that night it was a girlie dinner in London Bridge in a fab little tapas restaurant – joy!

At the time I was 7 weeks pregnant. I’d had an scan and seen a heartbeat that week – the future was so exciting and full of love.

But then terror literally tore through the restaurant and the following hour and a half was a time that was purely drenched in fear and utter panic. We were hidden waiting for the men with knives to come and get us. I thought I was going to die. I thought I would never see my husband and my children again. I had no idea if my friends upstairs were alive or not. There was no escape. We just had to wait.

Our group were all ok. We got home safely that evening and life has gone on. But how does life just go on after that?

I wondered why after a couple of days I didn’t feel back to ‘normal’. I mean, I had been at a birth the following night, supporting a woman at the very time she needed me – I was capable of moving on. Life goes on. I was rested, my bruises were fading, but why was every feeling I had so alien to me?

I had PTSD.

I was supported to realise that ‘normal’ doesn’t exist anymore and the work I needed to do was to find a ‘new normal’.

I found this list of questions I wrote down 3 weeks after the attack…

Will I ever find joy again?
Will I ever stop crying?
Will I ever not be scared?
Will I ever have patience for my kids again?
Will I ever want to crawl out from my duvet?
Will I ever be able to look into my kids eyes and not think that I’m never going to see them again?
Will I ever stop feeling sick?
Will I ever stop feeling numb?
Will I ever be able to just peacefully fall asleep again?

It felt like I was just watching my life happen before me – like I was removed from my body and had no control over what was happening. I hid away from my children sobbing. I ignored my friends calls. It was overwhelming, again I had no control. I couldn’t get the visions of hysteria or terror out of my mind.

And yet I felt so supported. I had the most amazing team of people helping me build myself up, holding me, listening to me and just being with me. But nothing seemed like it was shifting. I didn’t want to leave my house. I had no patience with my children, I just yearned to feel safe.

How was I to find a new normal? I knew I had to find a place for this experience to rest within me, so I could move on. Because you have to right? I can’t change that this has happened to me, it’s part of me now.

I started the ‘Rewind Technique’, which is a trauma therapy technique used to support women who have had traumatic birth experiences. I went back into my memory in a safe environment with someone that I trusted. Each time I reflected on a different part of the event that I hadn’t noticed before. Each time I went back into the memory, it was was more familiar to me and less scary. Each time it affected me less up until the last time when I was ready to leave and put the memory to rest.

I am truly so thankful for being guided to a technique which gave me so much clarity – a clarity and strength I believed to be so impossible just days before. Alongside some CBT which was so speedily set up for me by our wonderful NHS, I am finally at a point where it feels like things are starting to shift.

As for that list… I’m defo working on it. Some things I’m nailing, others are going to take a bit more time. But for the first time in a long time, they feel do-able.

It’s made me think of the sheer physical response fear can have on your body.  I talk about the physiology of pain with my clients, but these feelings were way beyond anything I had imagined. It was all-consuming sadness and fear. I felt so physically stuck and not in control of my own being.

It terrifies me that so many women are suffering similar effects from the trauma of their births and yet they aren’t given the space and opportunity to be able to debrief, reflect and grow from such an experience.  So they hold this fear deep rooted inside them – how do they find a new normal? How do they possibly face the idea of having another child?

I have booked my training so I can too facilitate the rewind technique and support women to heal & to make the impossible seem possible again.

I am so thankful for the love that has just shone through the darkness of this bizarre ‘ole time – you know who you are and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

So for now I just live for today. Today I heard my baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Today is and will always be about love.

 

One comment

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story – your words are so saddening, yet offer hope and strength, which is simply an inspiration. I’m sure many mothers can relate this experience in some way, and I hope they too find some positivity in the way you have taken something so terrifying and not let it take away from who you are. I know the work to find your new normal will take some time – but I know many mothers out there will be comforted to know they are not alone in this.

    Like

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