Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Being held hostage by your memory. #Flashbacks.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Being held hostage by your memories. #Flashbacks.

Definition of Hostage

If you say you are hostage to something, you mean that your freedom to take action is restricted by things that you cannot control. Such is the force of PTSD.

Memories are something unique to each and every one of us. They are perhaps the only thing apart from our DNA that truly sets us apart from any other of our species.

They can be triggered by the sweet joyous sound of a baby’s laughter, the scent of a freshly baked cake, or a scene from a movie that we watch over-and-over again. All our senses take part in the remembering process.

The lingering refrain of church bells on Sunday morning and the butterfly touch of a spring breeze on our faces may all take us to places we once inhabited in real time.

But not all of our memory is sweet.

The darker times of loss, the time a love ended, the tragedy  that life hands out … but never in equal measure, all those times remain there in that memory and at our weakest moments they will surface, to test our strength, or to force us to become aware, finally, that we are  no longer in that place of weakness.

Our memories hand us our self-knowledge, and at times, those memories are the very things by which we judge our own self-worth.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has as a bi-product its own unique way of enabling our darkest memory to surface. These are the FLASHBACKS  … I have experienced many. I will share with you one that it still shakes me to recall, in the hope that in some small way I can help shine a light into the darkest of places.

When it came, there was only a fleeting moment of recognition before I catapulted straight back to hell.

It was a crisp August morning, mid-winter here in Australia. I was beyond excited, anxious and happy that morning. I wore a new business suit, my hair was freshly cut and styled and I was ready to attend my second interview, at a firm of Merchant Bankers that were well known and respected, located in the Sydney CBD. I really wanted that job. Hell, I really needed that job. Blowing the funds on the new clothes and hairstyle was done in the belief that I had what it took to nail this position. I had worked in the field for a good many years and my reputation was solid. They had now compiled a short list of five possible candidates, including myself. I liked those odds.

I arrived at the tower of power that rose high above our beautiful harbor, and joined the throng of workers lined up for the elevators.

I have always hated elevators, but twenty-two floors up was my appointment location, and my lungs already knew that stairs weren’t an option.

My life long claustrophobia clung hand in hand to my inability to stand at the front of the elevator … my unease at having people behind me unseen won the argument. I entered the elevator and went to the middle against the back wall … my ass was covered. I smiled, remembering my dear Jamie’s favorite expression, “Always cover your ass, Sass!”  The other occupants soon created a wall in front of me, which I escaped by keeping my eyes closed and only briefly glancing up as the lift stopped and disgorged people on each floor.

I believe I had a handle on the claustrophobia, and just breathed deeply.

We stopped again, someone else entered. I watched an older woman, well attired, and confident looking stand just in front of me. She loosened her colored scarf and her perfume was captured and sent in my direction by the movement.

I inhaled that scent. My guts clenched so tight I could scarcely breathe. The nausea was my second warning sign that something was wrong. I took a deep breath to quell the wave of it as it rocked me. That is when it truly began. That smell … the woman who gave birth to me always wore that perfume. I was shaking and attempting not to throw up; I couldn’t move my limbs, for they were weighed down by the concrete of fear.

The fight or flight reflex kicked in and I lunged forward and hit the next floor button. Those brief moments seemed endless, and I had wet myself as I had as a small child when that scent of her would linger long after a beating. That odor had me back in a hell I had long run from. A hell that held me hostage with the memories that even the smell of a perfume could bring back into being.

I was that broken child again, kneeling on the floor and then placing my mouth at the light coming from underneath the locked door in the darkened room. The forty-year-old woman that I now was simply ceased to exist. I was four-years-old again. My back so sticky with crusted blood that the singlet I had been wearing for days stuck fast to the surface. I could feel my control slipping away and could find no logical thought that would both stop it and me from spiraling deeper into that remembered nightmare of pain and darkness.

The lift door finally opened and I half fell out in my haste. I don’t know what floor I landed on, my only coherent thought was escape. I needed a bathroom but couldn’t open my mouth to ask for directions. I headed to a corridor that I hoped would contain public washrooms. I threw up all over the plush-pile carpet in the corridor, and all over myself, not knowing or caring if anyone bore witness to my humiliation.

I found a washroom and locked myself into a stall. I sat down on the closed lid of the toilet and searched for the ability to breathe. I sat with my head down and focused on the tiled pattern on the floor until I could at last see it clearly, that gave me a route back to the immediacy of the moment, the now time, the real time where she had no power over my life … except in my memories. I had no idea how much time had passed. It had for me, seemed like a lifetime. I didn’t think to check my watch. Such is the nature of Flashbacks.

I cleaned myself as best I could, using paper towel and soapy water. I had nobody I could call to come and pick me up from the city. At that time in my life, I was living alone. I inspected myself, grabbing reassurance from the adult face reflected in the mirror, surprised to discover not the child I’d once been, but my grown self. I looked at my reflection for a long time …  until I had gathered as much of me together as I could hope for just then. I lightly sprayed on my own signature perfume, in the hope of hiding the stench of my clothing and my fear from the Taxi driver on the twenty-minutes it would take to him to drive me back home to safe haven.  I tipped him well.

I recall unlocking the door and resetting the alarm system before sliding down and sitting with my back firmly in place against that door. Nothing and no one could come near me … for now.

I showered, dressed, and then rang the folks that had expected to interview me. I apologized of course. I’d simply told them that I had taken suddenly ill. They thanked me, but they didn’t suggest a reschedule. I was distantly grateful for that, for I knew with absolute certainty that I would never take the risk that that woman could possibly share any space whatsoever in my life. I rated the chance of her working there far too high.

It took me a couple of days to regroup. I thought about and then tried not to think about what had happened. I knew I didn’t want to take the option of isolating myself … not again.

The temptation to reach out for alcohol to numb me against everything was resisted, this time. Being under the influence of the large amounts of alcohol I knew I could consume would make me a loaded weapon placed in the hands of a terrified four-year-old child.

I didn’t sleep fearing the nightmares that experience had told me lay waiting. I needed to cry it out, but I could not.

Finally, after almost three days of constant vigilance, exhaustion claimed me, and I slept. I awoke on the morning of the fourth day and knew that, I had,at least for now, regained control.

I refocused my attention on finding a job.

And life went on.

For those who suffer from P.T.S.D, and for those loving, caring folks that have someone in their lives that are trying to deal with the challenging packages P.T.S.D hands out, please know this … there are people out there in the now of your world that can help you. They will help you go to battle … and they will cheer you on as you win.

Reach out. There will be many loving hands ready to take yours.

I have listed below sites that are available world-wide, it is by no means a complete list, but if anyone reading this needs to learn more, these sites will point you in the right direction.

Depression Alliance U.K

ABeyond Blue Australia. Information and help

Anxiety and Depression Assistance America

Police Post Trauma Support Group | PPTSG | Post Traumatic Stress

Help line. 0432 569 589. 7am – 10am. The PPTSG is a not-for-profit organisation, … Its aim is to provide support to those who are suffering from PTSD, anxiety, … officers, and emergency workers, PPTSG provides a family and spouse support function. … He has been through the system & suffers ongoing medical problems of …
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can cause fear, anxiety and trauma memories that persist for a long time and affect a person’s ability to function.
Blue Knot Helpline (formerly ASCA Professional Support Line) provides help, … The MindSpot Clinic does not provide an emergency or instant response service. … health conditions, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, …
Posttraumatic stress disorder (sometimes called PTSD) is a form of anxiety … Ask your doctor about any concerns you have, or contact the SANE Helpline on …
PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) can cause fear, anxiety and trauma … information, online programs, helplines and news on mindhealthconnect. … PTSD is a treatable anxiety disorder affecting around one million Australians each year. …. (000) for an ambulance or go to the nearest hospital emergency department.
Trusted information about complex PTSD, including symptoms, causes, diagnosis and … If someone has attempted, or is in immediate risk of attempting to harm … Complex posttraumatic stress disorder describes the long-term effects of …. Helpline 1800 18 7263 Home Mental Health & Illness :: Facts & Guides Get Help …

Find help for the effects of trauma – Phoenix Australia

phoenixaustralia.org/recovery/find-help/
This page lists Australian helplines and websites. For urgent support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for confidential 24/7 counselling and …. PTSD and trauma.
People with posttraumatic stress disorder often experience feelings of panic or extreme fear, which may resemble what was felt during the traumatic event.
  1. Confidential online assessment. Free to Australian adults.
    Dedicated IT Team · Free & Effective Service
    Steps: Learn, Get Assessed, Treatment…

 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) | Mind, the mental health charity …

Explains what posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex PTSD are, and provides information on how you can access treatment and support. Includes …

It is normal to experience upsetting and confusing thoughts after a traumatic event, but … The Combat Stress 24-Hour Helpline 0800 138 1619 is for the military … trauma in military and emergency service personnel and also complex PTSD and … Rivers offers treatment for the whole range of post traumatic disorders with the 

 

 

 

 

Book REVIEW Video “Empty Chairs” by Suzanne Burke writing as Stacey Danson. Reviewed by Gwen Plano. #RRBC

How marvelous it is to have my book reviewed in this way. I am so honored to have  Gwen Plano feel strongly about my work. Please, pop over to the YouTube site and leave a comment on her video.

Thank you for dropping by.

 

 

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“Glimpses Across The Barricades” #Poetry in progress. ‘In Dreams of A Perfect World’ by Suzanne Burke.

Welcome to ‘Glimpses Across the Barricades’ This poem was included in the epilogue of my book “Faint Echoes of Laughter”.

In A  Perfect World

by

Suzanne Burke

 

Dreams of aperfect world image

As I lay snugly warm and safe
Within my families womb
My heart begins a slow sad ache
For another child will cry tonight
Another child will die tonight
What was once their home
will become their tomb

Anger tears me as I read
The desperate plead of a child in need
How can we continue to ignore
The deafening cries from every land?
Can the balance be restored or
Are we so desensitized to pain
That we can’t give
Without thought of gain

If I had but one wish to make
Then that wish would surely be
That when my own sweet child has grown,
and if fate so decrees

I’ll hold her own children on my knee
And when I lay them in their beds
No sad thoughts will fill their heads

For our world will have become a place
Where all its children have their space
Where no ugly thoughts will touch their minds
When faith is restored in humankind

No sweet child will need to cry
No hungry child will need to die

We have that power in our hands
To make these changes throughout all lands
If we can but clearly see
That our world is not
What it needs to be

Once the changes have been made
Each child may sleep with sweet child dreams

Each child will wake to see the dawn
Each child will be thankful
they were born.

In my dreams of a perfect world.

 

 

‘Glimpses Across The Barricades’ #Poetry #Memoir “The Tears We Just Can’t Cry.”

Welcome again to my Poetry in Progress. This particular poem was written in the days after the last of the valiant kids I’d lived with on the streets ended his life.  It is one of many poems I’ve written for and about those dear people. All damaged strangers, they took me into their hearts, their home, and their lives.  My journey through life was forever altered by their existence and forever bereft at their loss.

Glimpses Across The Barricades

 The Tears We Just Can’t Cry.

Dedicated with love to all the kids from ‘The Palace’

By

Suzanne Burke

Broken hearted

There are those that never cry them

Those tears that cleanse the soul

For the rivers they create

Will never make them whole.

The anger they hold to them

Like a dark defensive shield

Holds back a tide of tenderness

Only undamaged ones can feel

Dark dreams forever taunt them

Laughing at their pain

As they leave veins forever open

To bleed out in life’s rain.

And when the waves of despair come

They have no place to hide

No shelter can enclose them

They have no sense of pride

They are afraid to face a future

If their barriers they remove

In case a love should die there

Best unknown, to be so mourned.

The ending that they pray for

Lay waiting in the wings

And for some it is hastened

By sad choices their lives bring.

As for those still left standing

That seek a way to cry

They spend a life demanding

Just one reason why.

There remains no place to hide now

No safe harbor from the storm

Nothing to prevent the cascade

Of tears as yet unborn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Glimpses Across the Barricades.” Poetry in progress: “Masks”

Welcome again to “Glimpses Across the Barricades” my poetry in progress.

Today I share with you a brief glimpse of my dear friend, Jenny. I met her on the streets when she was barely eight-years-old.  I was eleven. She took her own life several years ago. The world is a darker place now that her sweet soul no longer lights it.

Masks for poetry

MASKS

By

Suzanne Burke.

MASKS.

Eight-year-old eyes

Devoid of hope

For the innocence was gone.

 

Eight-year-old ears

That only heard

Violent words, of crushing fear.

 

Eight-year-old soul

That barely whispered

Before it was taken away.

 

Eight-year-old heart

With no joyous beat

A heart that stopped too soon.

 

And the masks that we wear

Cause others despair

As they search to find something long gone.

 

Masks of laughter bent and twisted.

 Faces shielding the dark within.

The weapons we are wielding

Peirce far beneath the skin.

 

We that are too broken

A place where forgiveness

Has yet to find a home.

 

We remove that last fear, finally

Into just one more unknown.

Eight-year-old eyes

that only cried

beneath the mask.

 

“Glimpses Across The Barricades” Poetry in progress. “City Girl.”

Hello and welcome again to my poetry in progress “Glimpses Across The Barricades”

Today I’m sharing something very recent, my daughter, grandson and I all relocated from high octane Sydney: Australia, to a beautiful and small University Town to the west of our Blue Mountains.

I’m loving this serenity, warmth, and air of human goodness.

I hope my poem reflects that.

Bathurst in autumn 3 the best
A Glimpse of Bathurst in the Autumn

City Girl

By

Suzanne Burke.

 

 

The train beat out a rhythmic sound,

 as I journeyed far from familiar ground.

City girl in a whirl

Was what I heard that rhythm say.

 

Unfamiliar visions caught me unawares

As I first looked with my city-eyes

Into that country sky.

Rolling greens waves of willows

As they followed country streams

I was now envisioning something beautiful

Not something from my dreams.

 

Nightfall came in blankets of glitter coated black

When I unwound my city self

To greet that country sky.

I drew in the scented country air to an inexperienced soul

And then I shook with hunger at its touch

Its virgin freshness composing music in my heart

I knew with growing thankfulness

This was the place to start

Again.

 

I walked the cobbled streets quickly

It was the city way

With eyes downcast and high alert

Ah, yes, that city way.

Suspicious of these country folks

And their warm greetings of G’day.

 

These past months have flown by

As I relocate that city self

The nights are dark and deeper

Than any I have known.

The sunrise is more welcome here

Its warmth a tremor in my soul

Anticipated happily in a most unfamiliar way.

 

Now I walk those cobbled street

With head held high and proud

I smile and greet new faces

With my very own, ‘G’day’.

The city girl is resting now,

Her nightmares tucked away.

I will enter this journey with all I am

For that’s the country way.

“Glimpses Across The Barricades” My Poetry in progress. ‘Jamie’s Laughter’ #memoir.

Hello and welcome to my poetry in progress. “Glimpses Across The Barricades” is my collection of poetry and moments from my strange and unprepared life.

I had fifteen wonderful friends … damaged beyond repair. They lost their brave attempts to win a battle with a life too harsh. They removed themselves one by one from a world they had grown too utterly weary to exist in.

They were wild, wilful and wonderful.

My soul is incomplete now that they have all gone.

I would never have believed it possible that I would be the Last One Standing.

This poem is dedicated to my ‘Jamie’ …  “I’ll know exactly where to find you, where the shoreline meets the sun.”

Jamies Laughter overlooking ocean

Jamie.

By

Suzanne Burke.

 

I didn’t recognize the voice when that call was made

Although that number was long etched into my soul.

How could a glowing day suddenly fall dark and forever lonely?

Why did you leave without me …

and leave me here forever …  without the protection of your shade?

 

Why did you not keep that promise that we made?

 

All the echoes of your presence are shattering my soul.

Sleep no longer welcomed for the nightmares that it holds

The tears I will not permit to fall now,

Lay waiting beneath the anger

But … that anger first needs a place to go.

 

Why did you not keep that promise that we made?

 

Days have melted into weeks now,

The faint echoes of your laughter at last come welcome to my heart

Of all those crazy years together and the remorseless times apart.

They all seemed so insignificant when we did together meet

 

But two people with needs such as ours … cannot forever be

Not needing each others strength enough

The one thing we could never forgive.

We knew with ageless wisdom

That our great love had nowhere to live.

 

Why did you not keep that promise that we made?

 

Every year we’d meet again when summer touched our skin

When e’er we both resided in the country of our kin

And year-by-year those numbers dwindled

As fate took dear friends to its shores

We remained the last two standing

Conscious of our mortality

Like we’d never been before

We held each other and promised that our own lives we’d never take.

 

I know now that was a promise we should have never dared to make.

 

For we are all combatants on this battlefield called life,

and our individual weapons are by experience finely honed

But when life carries greater guns than ours

And battle weary …  bloodied and broken we resign

It is not meant as a punishment to those we leave behind.

 

I need to believe that the solace of your eternal dark

Has comforted you with arms that will hold you safe

Until again I join you under that summer sun

And our dreams have a second chance of rising from the ashes of our lives.

Be at peace, My Jamie.

I’ll hold you safely in my dreams.

Until at last I rejoin you on our sacred shore.

I have included the links below to some URGENT ASSISTANCE HOTLINES and Organizations World Wide. Suicide Prevention is possible, if we know what to look for, and have qualified folks on hand to enlighten us further and offer immediate assistance.

I ask you, wherever you may be on our planet to take a brief moment if you would, and ADD to the list of bonafide Hotlines, by sharing the link to them and their location in the comments section.

I will then compile them and ADD them to a long list I am preparing for my next NON-FICTION work. Thank you so much.

BEYOND BLUE AUSTRALIA.

LIFELINE SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE AUSTRALIA

Relationship Crisis Assistance AUSTRALIA

Australian Govt Mental Health ASSISTANCE HOTLINE

A Comprehensive List of U.S.A and U.K telephone HOTLINES and HELP-LINES

Kids Help Phone: CANADA

The Lifeline: The Canada Foundation. CANADA

My Non-Fiction works written under my pen-name of Stacey Danson are available as follows.

empty-chairs-cover-kindle-showing-series-details

“Empty Chairs” on AMAZON.COM

faint-echoes-kindle-with-series-details

“Faint Echoes of Laughter” on Amazon.com

I will be featuring posts over the coming months that will give insights into what signs to look for in ‘Child abuse and neglect’. Insights into how to approach a child that you suspect may be enduring abuse. How to contact the authorities and what response you may reasonably expect.

Thank you for taking the time to be here today.

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