Growing up as a child, we often use to play “cowboy and crooks” or “robbers and police” or role-play being in a war (like in the movie “Saving Private Ryan”), or doctor-doctor, and so the list goes on. We use to have toy guns, or long sticks, like bamboo rods which, in hindsight, could have poked our eyes out. We attacked each other with mud bombs and coloured our faces with old shoe or floor polish – red or black as camouflage. In the innocence of a child, I never would have thought that our little “creative games”, which was the source of a lot of fun and excitement and sometimes a blue eye or bruised knee, was actually a real and big issue in the adult world. Many years later, upon enlightening myself with more knowledge around issues in the adult world, I discovered that these little games of ours, actually had a much different effect when it was “played” in the real world.
I learnt that for adults, instead of experiencing it as fun and excitement accompanied by lots of laughter and sometimes embarrassment if you lose, it had a much deeper and intense experience than what I believed as a kid. It was nothing so positive. In the adult world, I discovered there is even a name for it – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. According to experts in the field, PTSD develops when one is exposed to a traumatic event or if someone close to us have such a traumatic experience.
I remember that as kids we would go back to the same “rock of defeat” quite a number of times. We would try to beat the winners over and over again until we were crowned the champions. In the adult world, people may be diagnosed with PTSD, and I have learnt that it actually works the opposite way for many people. Some people respond in such a way that they refuse to revisit the place where the actual trauma happened or avoid it at all cost. It may even become extremely difficult to speak about the trauma for many years. Normal reactions to trauma include feelings of anxiety, intense emotions, sleeplessness (insomnia) and intense anger. When all of these symptoms are experienced for a duration of two weeks or more, and if it impacts on the daily normal functioning of the individual, we now know that there may be Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which may need to be addressed on a serious level with professional help.
The Corona pandemic that hit the world so unexpectedly, has left many people devastated and reeling in shock due to the trauma and life-changing events many had to face. The long periods of isolation, fear and worry have come like the long bamboo rods once used for fun, and poked out our sense of hope and meaning to life. Many faced their own death or the death of a loved one and people very close. Mental Health specialists advise that during this time, PTSD may develop and one should be aware of the symptoms in order to seek help.
The hope we keep is that PTSD can be treated with medication, therapy or a combination of the two. When we see that someone has reached the “rock of defeat”, it is time to stretch out our arms and help so that we fight the battle and its aftermath together…like with little children throwing mud bombs and swinging sticks in their innocence, to be one day crowned the champions.
We see doctors and other health care professionals work tirelessly to save lives and care for those who face the reality of the impact of the pandemic. This reminded me of the small pink sweeties we use to hand out as medication for those our fellow friends, who suffered the attack of a mud bomb or a bruised knee. I still hold the memory that as kids, we just never gave up. We picked up our swords and off to battle we marched – time and time again. I gain comfort in the knowledge that as humanity, we are actually more resilient than we think. As little kids we already prepared for the battles of life. As adults we forget how many times we faced and conquered these many battles. We forget that there are others to help us in the battles of life. Then I draw hope when I realize I can face and overcome any illness, even PTSD. My heart feels warm because I also know that even as adults, we will be crowned as champions…