Sunday, June 18, 2006

Wonderful 7/7 journalism

Here are two best pieces of writing that I have seen all year about what happened on and after 7th July. And they come from two members of the same family.

Magnus Linklater's lovely comment piece about the peculiarly British reaction of the survivors.
And Alex Linklater's brilliant 'Aftershock', which is about PTSD.

I wonder whether speaking about the rape, starting this blog, setting up Kings Cross United, speaking to the media about stuff has been driven by this one thing: the need to understand and explain trauma, and to try to help those who suffer from it, and those who know and love them. Trying to help myself and others. I know when I had PTSD for the first time in 2002, I found the crippling isolation, the numbness, anger, avoidance and fear overwhelming, and terrifying. I thought I was going mad. I simply could not understand what had happened to me. Why I felt like a shell, a husk, different to everyone else who seemed to exist on the other side of an impermeable transparent wall through which I could not penetrate, could not hear, could not connect with other humans. It was only when I began to read, to search on the internet, to educate myself and to find the first-person accounts of those who had been there too, swimming in the goldfish bowl of fear and remembered, re-experienced aftershock, triggered by suddenly-inexplicably- sinister ordinary things: a smell of aftershave, footsteps behind me, pressure on my throat, soft cloth over my mouth, that I began to understand. So when it happened again, on 7th July, I tried to write what I would have wanted to read, the words of someone else who had been there and who understood PTSD. I hoped it would help me and others.

Afterwards, there also came political campaigning. That, too, was the need to try to understand, to stop the horror happening again, here, abroad, anywhere, everywhere. I was always very interested in news and politics, but later it became personal and passionate. Because I had come close to death twice, I was afraid of everything, and then, afraid of nothing. It became important to fight back, to cherish what was important to me, to stand up for what I believed in, so that if I died, there would have been some small mark left by my time here, I could go knowing I had at least tried to make things better. Maybe it is survivor guilt, maybe it is my way of trying to make sense of the senseless.

It's hard to explain when people say it is all pointless, hopeless, or when they ask why I bother, or say sneeringly that I want to be famous, some kind of celebrity. Yes, I say to these people, you're right. I failed the Big Brother auditions, I'm not rich or thin enough to be snapped by Hello so I got raped and then blew up my train. Anything to be on telly.

Holly and I got drunk last night in her garden. She had enjoyed her holiday, she had laughed and laughed with old friends and new friends. She is as brown and rangy as a film star. She made a new friend who was a fireman, he and she had somehow recognised each other as members of the club that nobody wants to be part of. The club who knows what ''triggering'' means, why sometimes when you are desperate for sleep you dare not close your eyes for fear of what you will see, and smell and hear when you dream. ''The fucked-up loonies club'', the club with the darkest sense of humour of all. The club I am unwillingly in, where I have met some of the most human, the strongest, the most compassionate people I have ever met. And so I stay hopeful, because of other people.

Thank you Alex and Magnus for what you wrote. You made me feel proud.


Blogger Bumble Bee said...

It definately is wonderful writing. I cried and felt such emotion when I read them for the first time. Same reasons I keep reading your blog and Holly's. Such inspiration and a way with words.
It's what gives us hope, determination and warmth.

June 18, 2006 1:43 pm  

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