Wednesday, January 25, 2006

'Preventable'

'It seems to me that one of the things which managed to turn off naturally aggressive and naturally inquisitive Special Branch and security service agents, particularly when they were following Mohammed Sidique Khan, the ringleader of the 7/7 bombs, may have been an inability to understand properly the radicalizing effects of Iraq, the resonance that it has created for some extremists in a tiny proportion of our population,' he said. 'My argument is unless you realize that this has happened, you aren't going to get very far in actually dealing with terrorism'

Crispin Black who formerly analyzed intelligence for the Defense Intelligence Staff, Joint Intelligence Committee and Cabinet Office and briefed Downing Street on the terror threat, is calling for a 'ruthlessly forensic examination of what actually happened on 7/7' describing it as a massive failure of intelligence. This was before Christmas.
Source


What can I say? I am so god damn angry, still. I have been angry and despairing for the last 3 days to the point where I cannot concentrate, cannot sleep, want to weep all the time. I am almost unbalanced with it. It is getting harder and harder to carry off work, life, normality. I am dangerously brittle. Outside I look normal and inside I am desperate. I want to scream. I feel like everything I have done, everything I have been since 7th July is a fake. I wasn't 'calm', I was numb. I wasn't 'together', I was manic. I wasn't 'dealing with it' at work, I was acting. Couldn't you see?
I had been in my new job three weeks when the bomb went off. What the bloody hell else was I supposed to do?

I have discovered that most non-injured passengers being treated by the NHS after 7th July took an average of 3 or 4 months off. I took a few days, I was back at work and back on the tube on Tuesday 12th July. I am realising that this was a stupid, stupid mistake and now it is too late. I don't know if people get why I am so angry six months on. After all, it has been months, months, days and nights and months. I should be 'over it'. Shouldn't I?

I looked at where visitors to my diary were coming from. I found many were coming from a place called haddock.org
The link said 'Rachel from north London maybe you should write a blog going on and on about the experience for the next six months or more...' That was all it said. Lots of people visited.

Thank you for the link. Yes, of course it stung. This is a personal 7th July Blog, it is a survivor resource, I have tried to make that clear, and I'm afraid that, yes, this is the only place I have to 'go on' about after 7th July.
You don't have to read it, of course.

But let me explain, because I am stung by the comment, why I spend an hour or so, every few days, writing it.
Every day, I wake up, knowing I have to go to work, I am afraid because I have to get on the tube. I travel, standing in the same place as I was when the bomb went off. (Because I know how to escape from there.)

Look. I don't have a choice in this. If I had been hurt in the Tsunami, I could choose to never take a beach holiday again. September 11th? Avoid the U.S, avoid planes. But I live in London, I work here, I cannot avoid public transport. There isn't any escape from it.

Every time I use the tube, I am so afraid. Not only of what might happen, but of the memories that travel with me on each journey. Dark, screams, smoke, death. I still taste the smoke every morning. I eat mints so I can try and mask it. Though the tube is well-lit, though it is 6 months on and we all wear winter clothes, I can still taste and smell and feel one dark day in midsummer when I press myself against the closing doors of carriage one. It is more real than reality. I arrive at work shaking with nausea. I calm down in the loos, I take Rescue Remedy, I breathe in and out. I tell myself it is no longer real. But my body does not realise that it is a memory. It still reacts as if I am about to die.

I work through the day. I do stuff. Ten hours passes. Then I go home again, on the tube. Same shit. Unless I pay £15 for a taxi. I am taking a lot of taxis these days, because the impact of a tube journey screws up my work concentration for several hours. I can't afford that.

Once a week I get an hour, when I sit in a room and I relive the bomb with a CBT counsellor. I started CBT counselling in December 2005. I have had 4 sessions so far. I waited 5 months for the NHS sessions: they hope I will be able to travel on a tube without fear soon. To get to this point I must re-live the bomb again and again and again until I am desensitised. I don't think it is working: it is getting worse.


Afterwards I am shakey. I cannot speak of what is in my head to my loved ones. Six months on, I do not think they want to hear how every day going to work feels like going into a war. How the fear is still winning. It makes me sick. I am not winning this war.
I come home from work, tired. I write, here. It is my small escape from what is there during the other hours. Writing is half an hour a day but it is the difference between sanity and despair, for me. It is a small space where I connect with what I really think and I say what I cannot share. I talk to strangers. I can breathe.

I am not asking you to read everything or anything I write. I write freely, because what else can I do but write? I don't even want to write about bloody July 7th all the time. But it is what people want to hear about. It is the ghost that haunts everything. It is always with me. It has been six months. It feels as if it has gone on and on and on and on and on.
I would love to switch it off. I am so damn sorry for myself.


You do not have to read these words, this blog. But I am sorry that I have to write it. To those of you who read it, I am thankful and grateful. I don't think I have words enough to say how much it has helped.

18 Comments:

Blogger Mike said...

Blimey Rachel..

Never feel the need to justify yourself. I write utter bollocks on my blog, badly. You have nothing to worry about.

So in the immortal words of - I hope - John Gielgud.

Fuck 'em.

January 25, 2006 11:08 pm  
Blogger steve said...

Doubt if this helps at all but...
the first time I contacted you about joining KCU I was amazed how involved you were personally, and a bit anxious to be honest. I don't even know you, never met you, but you offered your personal help straight away, you had time for me because you knew what we were all going through. I followed your initial BBC diary in the weeks after and when I realised you were the same person I couldn't believe how much time you were still putting into the whole area. Even after so much time.

From a selfish point of view I'm very grateful you've done what you have. When I joined KCU it was a subconscious cry for help and it was the group that picked me up. I would be in a much worse state if it weren't for what you have done as I'm STILL awaiting counselling. And that's just me, I'm sure you (and others in KCU) have helped many others.

I tried to distract myself for months, I built a double garage size workshop rennovated half my parents house, and started my own business, just in an attempt to stay sane. Course it just delayed it, as you know. But then I'm lucky not to live in London, I don't have to brave the tube every day. I don't think I could get on it at all at the moment. You've been very strong to carry on as you have.

I also can't believe how patient you have been, especially with all the oddities that leave comments on here, maybe I'm one of them. But the way you calmly deal with them, even when they say the most insulting ridiculous things. You don't need that at all. After all this is your escape, you don't deserve insults polluting what is a very personal thing. You also don't need them constantly badgering you about it. I am of course referring to "conspiraloons" and downright idiots, not generalising everyone who comments.

My friends were no help at all, they were sick of hearing the same old story again and again and again. Their attention span switched off unless I recounted it in increasingly gorey detail. Inside I was screaming. It was this that drove me to KCU. I needed to let go.

It's easy to criticise what you've done/haven't done in retrospect, maybe you should have taken more time off work. But it has got you to this point, in that time you've helped many others. You've carved out a reputation as a good writer and I'm sure you've discovered many other things about yourself. It was ONLY 6 months ago, not actually that long at all, even though to me it feels like years ago. It's still relatively early days and it's ok to be having a hard time.

It's ok to be selfish in this situation, look after number one for a while! Easy to say I know but I hope it eases off.

Steve

January 26, 2006 12:34 am  
Anonymous Tim Neale said...

There are definitely some strange ideas on the internet, one of its attractions for me. In most cases these ideas are genuinely held.

But there have always been people on the internet who use its anonymity to abuse and hurt others – aka trolls. By displaying your vulnerability you are attracting them. There is very little point in arguing with them or reasoning with them and definitely no point in appealing to their better nature as they do not have one. Ignoring them is the best thing you can do.

Try picturing them as week pimply adolescent kids, sitting all alone in their bedrooms because they have no friends, taking revenge on the world for the bullying they received in school that day – probably pretty near the truth in most cases.

January 26, 2006 8:10 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two questions -

1) Home working - is it possible for you?
2) Financial help with the taxi thing. Isn't it possible to apply for help with this?

Both genuine questions - in the sense of I'd like to know the answer.

January 26, 2006 9:40 am  
Blogger Holly Finch said...

oh honey.....i am almost in tears reading this....drinks tonight?
Huge hug....of COURSE you shouldn't be over it yet....none of us are. You WILL get there, you are an amazing lady who has had far too much horror thrown at her over the past few years. No-one deserves that.

Friends don't know how to help, we do. Please call me whenever you are feeling like this. Big love Hxx

January 26, 2006 10:26 am  
Blogger Mitch said...

Rachel,

You have been so brave to get back on the tube at all - I'm not even there yet. It wasn't a stupid thing to want to get back to work and try to re-build. There is no timeframe to say when the enormity of what happened hits or long it stays with you.

There is no right or wrong way to deal with this.

Just keep thinking - you have the love and support of some many people and no matter how low you feel those people are there for you. You have to allow yourself to feel that way - to release the pressure you undoubtedly feel.

That's why I know this blog is a good thing and if you were talking about July 7th ten years on you would be perfectly within your rights to do so. The people who are saying you are "going on" are grossly insensitive and don't deserve your, or anyone else's, time.

Paul

January 26, 2006 11:02 am  
Blogger Ceridwen Devi said...

What you write is always worth reading because it is genuine. Not every day is a good day, and yes I know it's a cliché , but time is a healer. Some of the traumas of my life took many years to work through. If it helps to know that many who have never met you get inspiration from what you write, then trust me it is so.

January 26, 2006 2:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep on an on, Rachel - it's your space, just up to us whether we read it. I do, every day. Because it's about much more than July 7th 2005. It deserves to be published, in a book with an ISBN and copyright, script edited by one of the many people who recognise its worth and can view it, sensitively but firmly, from the outside. I expect Fergal Keane could suggest someone.

Your journey continues. Keep telling us about it. It's not an indulgence. You're a writer, so write, dammit.

Iain

January 26, 2006 3:23 pm  
Anonymous Richard said...

I was going to say that I can't believe anyone would make a comment as stupid and insensitive as that haddock.org thing, but that's not true - I know that people say stupid and insensitive things all the time; I just think it's really sad that they would direct such stupidity towards what you're doing here.

I know of nothing else on the internet quite like the blog that you're writing - and I don't think I've ever read anything so raw and eloquent from someone writing so soon after such a traumatic event. I think for most people it takes years to get to the kind of insight and perspective you've managed to achieve in just six months. It's obvious to me why the nameless juveniles at haddock.org put that sneering comment on their website. They're jealous of you. So an incisive, thoughtful, painfully honest reflection on an extraordinarily traumatic event that happens also to have serious historical significance gets dismissed as "going on and on".

Phil Gyford, who owns haddock.org, appears to harbour writing ambitions himself - there's piles of his stuff here: http://www.gyford.com/phil/writing/

I won't sink to his level, but suffice to say, I suspect his readership is rather more narrow than yours.

Screw those idiots!

January 26, 2006 4:33 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel - just a quickie - I log in most days to see how you are getting on. I am sorry that the counselling is so painful - from my experience this can be because your mind is trying to protect you and stop you from reliving a stressful event and so thinks that if it makes the reliving really horrible, something you dread doing, you'll stop doing it - of course that is worse in the long run - hope this makes sense - sending you a hug.

January 26, 2006 6:58 pm  
Blogger Kate said...

I try and stop by every few days to see how you're doing. Keep writing what you write and doing your thing and ignore the stupid haddock people who are obviously horribly jealous of your writing talent.

Look after yourself, (((hugs)))

January 26, 2006 8:48 pm  
Blogger Don't Call Me Ishmael said...

Response, part 1:
I agree with Richard who said that your blog should be published. I check it almost every day because I feel an affinity with you, even though I don't know you personally, and I believe in the importantance of listening to what you have to say. I feel a genuine connection with you because you are obviously a lovely and kind person, and because you write what I would write, had I been in your place.

There's an old saying that it is wisest to try to understand your enemy instead of trying to kill your enemy -- because the death of one person doesn't solve the bigger picture/problem. This is especially true in light of the phenomenon that is Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. I truly believe that my country's (and yours) government(s) MUST rethink its horrific foreign policy or the so-called "jihad" will never end. We must try to understand what has led them to hate us so much so that we can stop doing whatever it is. It's karma. What goes around comes around. But I digress. In the same vein of understanding the enemy, there must be reparations. The world must hear everyone's story-- your blog is your story. It's so important that we listen to you.

Response part 2:
Whenever I feel inconsolable I retreat to my room with a book. Specifically I find it most consolling to reread books from my childhood. And I put on some Tori.

I paricularly like to read Anne of Green Gables or some Roald Dahl. Happy endings are the best thing in the world. Also, Life of Pi (by Yann Martel) is particularly good to reread when you need to escape from your brain. I don't know if Anne of Green Gables is just an American thing or if you've heard of the books in England. If you've never read the books, they are the equivalent of comfort food for your brain. I highly reccomend them when self-pity and disillusionment threaten to crush you. I have a hard-bound set and I get a warm feeling when I see them all lined up in my bookself.

As for Tori Amos, if you're not a fan already, get the Little Earthquakes album, her first. She is a genius. The first song on the album, Crucify, particularly resonated with me when I read your post. She sings,

"every finger in the room is pointing at me
I want to spit in their faces, then I get afraid
of what that could bring
I got a bowling ball in my stomach
& a desert in my mouth
it figures that my courage would chose to sell out now

Why do we
crucify ourselves?
every day I crucify myself
well, my heart is sick of being
I said my heart is sick of being
in chains..."

I send you a hug all the way from San Francisco, California...
--Marina

January 26, 2006 9:48 pm  
Blogger The Great Blandini said...

Ah, Rachel.
I'm with Mike....

I have not shared your experience.
These wars, these bombs, this hurt - it's all distant for me. I have my own pain.

I live my life in microcosm - what affects me affects ME, and is therefore mine to deal with.
But I share my own pain, and through my sharing, I learn and I heal. And I have found that others heal too, through my sharing.

You have been made a victim by outside forces, but you share because you wish to heal yourself and others.

Thousand and thousands of people write blogs. Millions, perhaps. They are all welcome to, even those who espouse hate and criticism and madness.

You are welcome to too, and deservedly so. Your ability to share your experiences helps us all, whatever we have been through.
Keep writing, and trust yourself.

Like Mike said, fuck 'em.

:)

January 27, 2006 12:59 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Dear everybody,

I came back online today after crashing out yesterday feeling like a wet rag because of the migraine, and have found all your wonderful messages, which have once more knocked me sideways and I am weepy. But in a good way. I am extremely grateful to be picked up and lifted by you all in this way and consider myself extremely fortunate. I have said before what a difference it makes and I will say it again; thank you all so much. You are ace. You make such a difference.

January 27, 2006 7:44 am  
Blogger Ceridwen Devi said...

So do you (make a difference) and when it all gets too much again try out
www.netdisaster.com
where you can throw tomatoes at or fry eggs on your favourite website! As yours is white I had great fun with the grafitti spray can. It's all harmless fun and great for Fridays when you run out of ideas. Have a nice weekend.

January 27, 2006 12:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rach,
What can I say? Except what I said to you once before. Take this time now as YOUR time and also know it is NEVER too late to take time off work.
Like the many others in KCU I have been so thankful for all that you have done for not only the group but also your writing. Please don't let some insensitive idiot that doesn't know what our situation was like to put you down. You are doing all you can to get through each day like the rest of us. Your thing is writing and I for one find it so inspiring and touching.
If it wasn't for your writing I don't know how I would have got through that first week.
Anyway enough of my bambling, please please take time for you, I would like to see you find some peace and yes it all takes time. It's only 6mths! Take time with your partner and enjoy the things that put a smile on your face.
Look forward to seeing you at the next meeting.
Kristina L xx

January 27, 2006 2:41 pm  
Blogger Katy Newton said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 28, 2006 2:26 pm  
Anonymous Joon Flowers said...

Dear Rachel,

You said you are thankful and grateful for people reading your blog. I will always read your blog and I am thankful and grateful to you for writing it. I am obsessed with Iraq and the July 7th bombings. I cannot read enough about both of these. They have made such a great impact on me.

The fear you feel is normal. Why shouldn't you feel like that after what you have been through? It would be strange if you didn't feel the way you do. I don't know if you believe in the power of prayer, but I do. I have prayed for various people at various times all of my life. I will add you to the group of people I pray for and I hope you don't mind.

I have said before, in another comment I left on your site, that your words really really move me. Have you ever written a book or have you considered writing one? I do so much enjoy your style of writing.

Best wishes - Joon Flowers

January 28, 2006 10:39 pm  

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