Friday, February 09, 2007

Update

Hello. I have had a few emails from readers wondering if I am all right because I haven't blogged in a fortnight, and I thought I had better log on and update people so you don't think I am lying dead under a bridge being gnawed by rats.

Good news: I made the deadline for the book, and am now in phase 2, which is rewriting and editing some of the chapters. As my computer has been very dodgy and slow of late, I have moved to a new place to work and I am now going into central London every day to work in an office where I have use of a PC. I have just got my home PC more or less running normally again (thanks to reader Ian) so I will be back posting more over the next few weeks, I hope.

Because the subject matter of the book is quite challenging to write about, when I come back home after writing most of the day, I am tired and a bit shaky. I have realised recently that I need to implement some stringent boundaries during this project, and my previous routine of working at home, on my own, at such intensity and for so many hours a day was not working.

As my friends and family know, I have been additionally trying to cope with a targeted harassment campaign from a particular individual over the last year, and that problem has intensified in recent months as the matter approaches resolution in a court of law. The individual has been arrested, and has recently been formally charged with harassment by the police. They are currently on Magistrate's bail, which has conditions attached: they must not contact me directly or indirectly.

I have seen my GP regarding some current physical problems, some of which I have detailed in this blog, and I have just started seeing a trauma counsellor because it has become clear that there has been a negative physical impact on my mental heath as well from the recent events and their aftermath. The counsellor works with many people who were on the same carriage as me on July 7th, which took a direct hit from the bomb, and in which 26 people died, and it is clear now that I am not alone in still suffering some negative effects after the bombings. One in five people are. In a horrible, sad way this is a relief.

'A Royal College of Psychiatrists report found between 30 and 40 per cent of victims develop PTSD - repeatedly reliving the event - and 20 per cent are likely to be still suffering symptoms two years later.
Professor Chris Brewin, who carried out the research, said: "The most important thing that determines how badly you are affected is how close you were to the attack. '

more

Last year I had some basic, practical CBT - simply to get me back on the tube so I could get to work. I have now left my job, taking voluntary redundancy during a company restructure because I still found the rush hour tube too much to juggle when doing a high-pressure advertising job. I have not taken the prescribed antidepresants that others are now struggling to come off; instead writing, campaigning and spending time with other survivors has been my self-administered therapy and my personal way of dealing with all this, and of trying to get something positive from the experience for me and for others. However, I am finally getting some extra help, and not before time.

It has become clear recently that I have been exhibiting some of the symptoms of stress and depression, and a reoccurrence of some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder; the latter condition occurring as a result of two separate incidents over the last five years which you all know about. The PTSD has been aggravated by the recent harassment, and the detailed re-experiencing of past events for the purposes of the book. The book describes a journey through post-traumatic stress disorder, so it is not surprising that writing it has been quite hard. The criminal harassment/stalking, however, I could really have done without.

I have felt uncomfortable writing in too much detail on this blog about the reoccurrence of PTSD because of concerns that I may be viewed as having a 'psychiatric disorder'. I do not, I have some symptoms of a psychological injury which is unfortunately common in those who were close to an attack or the subject of an attack in which their life was threatened.

After the bomb, I threw myself into writing and trying to help other 7/7 survivors. At the time I thought it was the best thing to do, and I still do think it was a good thing to do. However, there have been consequences of this emotional openness, such as unwelcome attention, and exhaustion.

The book, I hope, when it comes out, will be a useful document for others with PTSD, and those interested in the subject or who wish to support people they know who have undergone life-threatening events and are experiencing trauma.

As I am deeply involved in writing the book right now, I need to be very careful about managing my 'workload' and my health. And that is why I have pulled back from blogging and making my thoughts and my life public property over the last few weeks. At the moment, I feel extremely vulnerable; I do not feel particularly safe, and so I do not feel very comfortable sharing my thoughts - whether personal or political - with an internet audience. It is a bit of a reaction I am having now to having been so open in the past, and the problems which that openness has caused me.

I hope, having explained what is happening, that you will be patient with me and that you will understand.

I am still continuing the campaign for an inquiry into 7/7, and you will be hearing more about that in the next few weeks. And the book will be finished soon, and then I have my wedding to look forward to, and a new career as a novelist and freelance writer to try to make a success of. As always, I am extremely grateful for the support and well-wishes of my family, partner, friends, readers, and fellow-passengers. I am not giving up blogging. But I am trying to protect myself during a difficult time by taking a short break from it.

Back soon, I promise. And I might post some links to other blogs I have enjoyed, and some recipes over the weekend that I have been cooking, to keep the blog ticking over. (The casserole dish has come into its own recently during this cold weather.)

Cheers, and look after your lovely selves

RN

11 Comments:

Anonymous Helen G said...

Thank you for the update
Thinking of you
Feel better soon

love and hugs
Helen

February 09, 2007 10:30 am  
Blogger Henry North London said...

Ah.. Look after yourself Rachel and make sure you have me- time regularly

Rohen

February 09, 2007 4:17 pm  
Anonymous alexrunswick said...

Hi Rachel

Thanks for the update - I read your blog regularly and had been wondering.

I am really sorry that you are going through such a difficult time of it at the moment.

I hope you feel better soon and get the time, space and support to work it all through.

Just wanted to let you know that as well as all the loopy conspiracy theorists etc the net is full of people who are thinking of you and wishing you well.

Take care

Alex

February 09, 2007 4:22 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Rachel, it's good to hear that you're okay. I hope you will feel better soon. Take care,

February 09, 2007 5:16 pm  
Blogger Ally said...

I'm very glad that the gnawed-by-rats scenario is a non-starter. Hang in there x.

February 09, 2007 6:12 pm  
Anonymous iainc said...

Fully understood. Good to hear you made the deadline, and hope you took the time to try one of the insomnia remedies - 'going to work' again might be helping.

Your openness, combined with your talent and your commitment, have made for a high quality read over the last year and half. The downside is the harrassment, at one extreme, and the nonsense and conspiraloonynesses (just to be the first to use that word) at the other. Ironic that revealing your journey with ptsd has led to more trauma.

Look forward (if that's the expression) to the book and the resolution of the harrassment case. And the novel(s), of course.

IainC

February 09, 2007 6:37 pm  
Blogger kris said...

Hi Rachel

Thanks for the update! It is good to hear of your progress on all fronts.

My dad had untreated PTSD from his involvement in a war. I think the work you are doing is going to be very valuable to alot of people, not just the people caught up on the underground that day.

There are a whoe lot of men and women, on both sides of the war, who are largely left on their own to pick up the pieces. There is a need for pioneers like yourself to carve out the path.

Just like the way Tracy Morgan, Hamish Brown did with Harassment!

February 09, 2007 7:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that the idiot is going to get nailed properly.

Never give up on the idea that you control what is in your own head - it can be a struggle, but the important things are rarely easy.

The Anon

February 09, 2007 7:18 pm  
Blogger Ms Melancholy said...

Hi Rachel, balancing the public and the private is important in managing our mental health. I wish you the best of everything, and look forward to you coming back on blog-form. And congratulations on the book. Best wishes x

February 09, 2007 10:09 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am confident that you will make a full recovery from recent nonsense and have a great wedding. It does help to have the strength that you have so often shown. Having said that, one's constitution can take a battering at times, but knowing you for just a relatively short time, I think you are going to do well following your recent hardships.

I think you are unimaginably brave and honest to confront some of these problems for yourself and for others.

In doing so, I reckon that you are taking a very positive step and the results will really be worth it. My very best wishes, but above all, try to relax whenever possible.

Much admiration and respect - to a seriously wonderful person...!

February 10, 2007 12:54 pm  
Anonymous Alex L. said...

Good for you, Rachel. It takes courage to submit yourself to the discipline of trauma counselling or psychotherapy but you have lots of that and I am sure you will find it helpful (as well as painful).

All best,
Alex L.

February 11, 2007 11:20 am  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home