Sunday, October 25, 2015



I think everyone who lived through the Memorial Day flood has ptsd to some extent.  I know I do, even though I'm no longer in my house and am currently living  up on the third floor of an apartment complex.  Still, when I learned that the remnants of Hurricane Patricia were headed toward Houston, I was nervous.  I mean, the largest hurricane in history should have some pretty big remnants. 

As early as Friday evening, people were getting hourly updates on the approaching heavy rains.  Saturday I was signed up for an all-day workshop, but it was on the far west side of Houston, about an hour from my apartment.  I decided it was better to be safe than sorry and stayed home.  The rain was supposed to come at noon, then at 2:00, then at 4:00 and finally it began.  I might have been home from the workshop by then, but I was glad I didn't take a chance.

Although it's certainly not going to flood on the third floor, I spent the evening listening to severe weather alerts and checking the Internet for the water level of Brays Bayou.  Fortunately, no one got flooded, at least not in our neighborhood.  I'm sure everyone there, especially those who are rebuilding or rehabbing their homes, breathed a sigh of relief. 

Still, I wonder how long ptsd lasts? 


Jane said... [Reply to comment]

Thelma, I love your writing; the poem you wrote ten years ago is wonderful and hopefully you're still writing poetry!

Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome - let me tell you a little about it. It's not anxiety or even severe anxiety. Let me first say the fear of the hurricane was for sure strong and lingering. Do you stay? Do you go? It's your home, after all. But PTSS is something entirely different. I was assaulted a number of years ago in my apartment at knife point. The assailant wore red pants. To make a long story short, for years if I was out in public and saw somebody wearing red pants, I would have a physical reaction that involved a racing heart, hyperventilation, extreme desire to flee from his sight: Although I knew that he was locked away in prison, my physical reaction was as though it was him. This occurred for years. There were other times as well: I could not sit with my back to a crowd. This lingered for maybe 20 years. Once when I sat in a courtroom for jury duty, I began to hyperventilate and needed to be excused by the judge: It brought me back to the situation I'd experienced years before - feeling trapped, etc. In PTSS, you cannot divorce the current situation from the trauma that you suffered and your body reacts as if you were there years ago.

I'm glad that you have not suffered that type of trauma or that, in fact, you did not find yourself in the middle of a life-threatening situation. If you have anxiety lingering over the possibly of flood and having to leave your home, there are many ways of learning to relax... And being grateful that you are safe.

thelmaz said... [Reply to comment]

Jane, thanks for your comment. I'm so sorry to hear about the trauma you experienced. I can imagine how painful the memory must have been.
I think I've done quite well since the flood, but the idea of flood water is still scary.

Jane said... [Reply to comment]

Thelma, I wrote about it in an essay that was published in (here's the link, in case you're interested) The Persimmon Tree: An Online Magazine of the Arts for Women Over Sixty - a really interesting journal. But that's not my main interest in sharing the link. What you experienced elicited great fear, fear for your life, and was important to write about; I mainly just wanted to point out that PTSS is something very explicit, a notch above panic attacks, in that it elicits specific original memories of the original fear that cannot be controlled and that manifest themselves in very physical ways. I haven't had any explicit symptoms for a while now, Thank G-d. I'm also glad that your own fears are, like the water, subsiding. I'm so glad you're doing well; the fear of the flood is for sure still scary.

I often wonder about this... As we age (notice the Persimmon Tree is for women OVER sixty!) we accumulate frightening experiences that we've survived, but also warming, loving and sustaining experiences. How does each of us navigate between the two so that we aren't hindered by the negative?

thelmaz said... [Reply to comment]

Jane, thanks for the link. I am familiar with Persimmon Tree. It's nice to have a magazine for senior women. Compared to my fears of fire (I was burned 35% when I was in college) the fear of floods isn't too bad. I will look up your essay. Thanks.


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