Submitted anonymously by a 7th-grader | 15 Jan 2021
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. We all know what that is and we’re all aware of the critical and mental damages it can afflict on a person. Daily triggers and nightmares follow anyone suffering from PTSD wherever they go. A memory follows them, something that they simply can’t get rid of.
Have you ever gotten your first bike? It’s a nice feeling for some but sometimes, brutally terrifying for others. My daughter, Aleah on the other hand, was so ecstatic. She kept on reminding me that she was someday going to bike from our home in Nova Scotia to the Antarctic. Amusing, I thought, but what can you expect from a 7-year-old.
That night my wife, June, made this glorious lasagne which Aleah and her younger brother Michael ate in what seemed like a world record for fastest lasagne ever eaten! This day couldn’t have gone any better. June and I washed the dishes while Aleah and Michael played with the wheel of her new bike. It was time for the 8 o'clock news so I sat down on the couch with June. After watching the first couple of stories, I left to refill my glass of wine. Aleah and Michael took my seat next to June, with no hesitation I might add. Later I would learn that this would be a moment I would soon regret for the rest of my life. While pouring that glass all I heard were screams. My glass crashed on the floor. I ran to the living room and in the corner of my eye and saw a man, knife in hand. Everything froze, I couldn’t move and pretty soon, I couldn’t feel.
Everything that happened to me next was a blur. I woke up in a semi-lit room and immediately noticed tubes attached to me (probably some IV stuff) and a curtain around my bed. The bed was hard, and the ceilings and walls had tiny cracks in them. There was a TV in the corner, and I could hear some beeping noises. It was clear now I was in a hospital room, but why? As I breathed, I realised, there was a tube down my throat! Of course, I panicked and tried to scream but I couldn't feel my voice. In no time doctors and nurses were surrounding me, telling me to calm down, so I did. A doctor walked in and told me what my injuries were, I believe what she said was: “So, Mr Eric Bolton, great to see you’re awake. So, you’ve suffered a stab wound to your back which managed to puncture your lung, but thankfully emergency services arrived in time” She kept on talking but I droned out. What had happened to my family? Are they alive? I wanted to scream these questions out at her, but I couldn’t quite speak yet. I gathered the strength to tug on her coat and somehow, she immediately knew that I needed a pen and paper. I humbly wrote; “were family”. The Doctor told me they had all unfortunately succumbed to their wounds. She left me to grieve. But I didn’t know-how. I couldn’t cry and could barely move. My heart sank. It felt like a part of my soul had been demolished. I internally screamed, louder than I had ever screamed before. For the rest of the day, it felt like all the pain and suffering in the world had just been handed to me.
When the police visited me the next morning, I had my voice back and they asked me about that night. I’m not entirely sure why but for some reason, everything I told them was a lie. And I didn’t say anything about the man I saw. It was like my mind was working against my will. One officer informed me that I’ll be getting a Therapist to deal with my “traumatic experience.” but if I’m being honest, it would be nice to have someone to talk to.
A week later my doctor removed all the IV tubes connected to me and the respirator down my throat. I think I’m ready to walk. Nurses advised me not to do so, but outside my door, there's a vending machine full of Twix, so it shouldn’t be that hard. I lifted my legs, pulled them onto the ground, and grabbed a moving tray as support. I pulled the curtains surrounding my bed aside and slowly walked to the door. When I opened it, a nurse saw me and I told her about my quest to obtain a bar of Twix. Concerned, she called up my doctor asking if it was okay if I ate one, thankfully she agreed. The nurse escorted me back to my bed and handed me a bar of Twix. Funny how for one moment, any moment, no matter what you’re doing, everything can just stop. You forget, and for once, feel okay again. Too bad that moment only lasted for the length of a single Twix bar. As I slept tonight, I felt it. I felt the ghastly excruciating pain from the night I was stabbed in the back and punctured in the lung. I saw my wife and two kids on the couch, covered in blood and multiple stab wounds to the face and chest just before I collapsed. When I woke up it was in the middle of the night, tired, I went back to sleep and never talked about this vague memory to anyone.
The following day it was my first meeting with my Therapist, Jolene. She sat down next to me and asked me the basics; How I was feeling, whether or not I needed anything, you get the point. I asked her for a photo of my family, with ease, she said she will see what she can do about it. What interested me is that she asked if maybe I could start writing a sort of diary, to help me cope and heal. I took her up on this offer. And this is where we are now.
For the next 3 weeks, my daily schedule has been the same. Wake up, shower, eat, Therapy, read, eat, sleep. My life has become a non-stop cycle of rehearsal for nothing. Normally I tend to sit on the edge of my bed, and not move for hours. Just thinking about what I had lost.
But today when I met with Jolene, she brought up the topic of funerals and how my families funeral had been planned. In her opinion, she thinks I should go. I blew up at her, how could she expect me to do this?! I’m pretty sure this is what I shouted at her. “I can barely think about my family, and now you want me to visit their funerals?! Why?! Do you think that this would let me heal? Guess what, it won’t. I never will heal, I’m broken! I lost everything that I hold dear to me and you think that I can just pick up the pieces of my life and start anew?! My life isn’t getting any better, and it never will.”
I don’t know why I said that. I honestly don’t know why I say anything these days. I wanted to go to that funeral. I wanted closure, but something in me just won't let that happen.
Once again, as I slept, I felt the pain of blood all over me, but this time I needed to do something. I woke up in the middle of the night and opened the lights. I was going to that funeral. Getting out of the hospital wasn’t particularly that hard. It was the outside that was gruelling. The air was bitterly cold, and the snow was deep and crystalline. Walking through street after street I didn’t stop. Where was I going? What was I thinking? Am I out of my mind? Then I saw her, June, sitting down on a block of ice in an empty alleyway. I ran to her, but I slipped, fell and passed out.
The only thing I saw after passing out was me, in my house, pouring that glass of wine. I was in a way, hovering over myself, seeing every little move I made back then. Something was off, I could see it in my eyes. I was shaking and not blinking. Did something happen that night that I didn’t remember!? As I stared at myself, awaiting every catastrophe, maybe, just maybe, something worse than I could ever imagine happened. Remember that glass of wine I was pouring? For some reason I broke it. I picked up the sharpest piece and hid it behind my back, no idea why. My gut clenched, restlessly waiting for what I did next. And then, it went black. I couldn’t see anymore, but I could hear. I could hear myself, slowly tiptoeing to the couch, where my wife and kids were sitting on. In that moment, I realised. That mysterious man that I saw that night, that man who I thought killed the only part of my life that really mattered, was me.
As I woke, once again I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t feel anything. I almost died of hypothermia. I should’ve. I wish I had. Death would have been so much easier to cope with. I just laid on the cold icy ground. Not knowing what to do next. In the silence I heard the sound of a flowing river. I have no idea why, but this gave me the strength to stand up and go there.
The river was loud. Finding it was no problem. I sat on a bench on a bridge over the river. In my pocket I pulled out my diary and wrote. So now we’re caught up. Honestly, I have no idea what I want to do next. Right now, all I have are two choices. Go back to that dreaded hospital and pick up the shattered pieces of what is my life or jump.
It doesn’t matter what I pick, neither has a happy ending, to me at least. Any person in their right mind would pick the first. Sadly, i’m not in my right mind. I’m a danger, to anyone who wants to get to know me, to anyone I love. The latter is more appealing at the moment. I think I’ll stick with that. It would be quick, I hope. My body already feels half frozen. Maybe it would be like going down with the Titanic, I could be that Jack Dawson guy, happy life, but ended with a tragedy.
Death doesn’t scare me, I scare me. Something, someone, inside me scares me. It’s better if we both die rather than the other one living.