Friday, February 16, 2007

Confessions from 'us'.

Life is just like seasons. Sometimes happiness is bountiful just like spring, other times it's hard and dreary, and often (like if you live in Scotland) you will get all four season in one day.

So the continuing saga of my 'Zimbabwean' life ....

There are 2 of 'me'. The 'Zimbabwean me' who's carefree, has fire in her eyes, likes to be extremely sociable and will do anything for fun. And the 'Edinburgh me' who prefers to be by myself, is more serious, very thoughtful and philosophical. Geographically they are quite different lives. Whilst living in Edinburgh I keep in contact with family and friends from home but don't see any of them regularly. I work in a different field to when I was in Zimbabwe, I try avoid too much news from the country as it makes me very angry, the weather is different, so is the lifestyle, I say 'wee' and 'I didnae ken' (but never 'aye' - that's just too Scottish!) blah di blah di blah. If in Zimbabwe any Scottish friends of mine would complain about the heat and hide in the fridge, I certainly would not be working as hard as I do here and, in comparison, life would be twenty times slower.

Along with my beliefs in life, you're given what you get so make the most of it. Live it. Love it. Believe in it. So the past few years of my Edinburgh life has been fun, exciting, adventurous, busy, new and foreign. But my Zimbabwean life has been heart-breaking, lonesome, scarey, unsettled, helpless and disconnected.

Now that the majority of my family and friends are out of Zimbabwe I can enjoy a sigh of relief. Well until a few weeks ago I was doing precisely that, then everything went grey. Things that I enjoy didn't hold their normal appeal, I lost my motivation and making any decisions is just too damn difficult. Luckily Edinburgh-me ran to the rescue and is keeping both of us going (don't worry, I haven't become a schizophrenic. Yes, I always have been a bit mad). I saw my Doctor and she signed me off work for a week and referred me to see a psychologist. So then I saw Miss Psychologist, who is the slowest speaker I've ever met though it did have a calming effect, and she diagnosed me (the Zimbabwean me) with post traumatic stress. Wow!

This is her explanation of that diagnosis ...

Why do we react so strongly to trauma? There are many reasons why trauma leaves such a stronge impact on us emotionally.

It often shatters the basic beliefs we have about life: that life is fairly safe and secure, that life for us has a particualar form, meaning and purpose. It may be that the image that we have of ouselves is shattered, we may have responded differently in the crisis from how we expected or wanted to behave. It will usually be outside our normal range of experience and we are faced with not knowing what to do or how to behave. In the face of this danger our mind holds on to the memory of the trauma very stongly, probably as a natural form of self protection to ensure you never get into that situation again. The result of this is that you are left with the post traumatic stress reactions.

So this is grand news for me, it means I have relaxed enough to call it POST traumatic. It also means, along with a 7 week trip to Africa in April to June, the two of me can merge ... sanity at last, maybe.

This saying has usually irritated me Life is not a journey to the grave with intentions of arriving safely in a pretty well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming ... WOW! What a ride! A few years back I received it in a email along with photos of people out clubbing, getting drunk, going skydiving, taking drugs, etc. Now, personally, it makes more sense - with far more emotional depth!

....Wow! I love my life, and not only the bright side of it.

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