Friday, July 20, 2007

Feedback from Radio 4 Saturday Live interview

Fi Glover and her team have kindly sent me some of the feedback from the interview which I did with them. I am posting it below as it is fascinating to hear other people's stories......

Dear Fi and team….,
Coming Off Antidepressants
I suffer from clinical depression and was on the infamous Seroxat for some seven years in the 1990s.
Getting on to them was a bit tricky, with giddy fits, dry mouth incidents of ‘electric head’, but this was as nothing to getting off them.

They did work to a certain extent, but they took the highs out of ones mood more than they took the lows, and I came to realise I could only deal with my depression if I could feel the whole range of my moods and not have them clouded by Seroxat.

So I came off them. Didn’t refer to my doctor, I just stopped taking them. A very bad thing to do, I learned later.
Coming off them the room would swim about before me I got periods of giddiness such that I could not get out of a chair. I live alone and I was not working at the time, so I just got on with it. My moods went up and down and my emotions were greatly heightened. I listened to the radio a lot and anything with a bit of pathos had me in tears and I reacted strangely to stuff I heard. Desert Island Discs never failed to make me weep!

The worst thing was the ‘electric head’ thing. I only heard the term afterwards but understood what was meant. ‘Electric Head’ are shocks a bit like having an instant hit of extreme pins and needles deep inside the head, with a sort of electric shock crackle in the ears. Alarming, more than painful, but something otherwise unknown in ‘normal’ life.

The whole coming-off-Seroxat experience lasted, for me, about a week to ten days, then I was through it.
I went to see my doctor. He was ‘alarmed’ at the way I’d taken myself off Seroxat, to say the least, but he accepted that I’d done it and let it go.

The controversy about Seroxat (a la Panorama programmes) is that it promotes suicidal tendencies. I dispute this strongly… I felt suicidal whilst on Seroxat. Now I’m off it, I still feel suicidal at times. I’m depressed for Chris’sakes… It makes you suicidal; ‘tis the nature of the beast!

Thanks for the show – I got a mention last week with my Saturday Live – An Audio Duvet. That one’s a bit weak. I like my Saturday Live – It’s a Morning Glory myself!

I came off anti depresseants (Prossac) two and a half years ago after about five years on them.

I suggested coming off to the GP and he had to reluctantly agreed when he saw my determination. I'd had enough of being made to feel mentaly and physicaly inferior by the side effects. I don't think the drugs did anything to help anyway. If anti depressants work, why is there so much depression around the place? I had to do my own research and told the doctor how to help the process such as, prescribing medication in liquid form to make it easier to cut down dose slowly. Also when it comes to small amounts of medication making use of baby spoons or child despensers.

I have never regreted my decision and I imediatly began feeling better having made the decision. find groups or similar people to talk to and barrack the doctor for alternative therapies with no hidden agenda don't let them automaticaly reach for the drug company manual.


Dear Fi
I can tell you with authority that there are 209 grains in every capsule of Effexor (Venlafxine). I know this because I spent 6 months opening capsules and counting them out so that I could reduce the dose by one or two grains per day, in order to get my husband off the dreadful things.

They seemed to help for about a month and then suddenly it was as if he had broken through the mood-containment they initially provide and suddenly, his mood swings up and down became even more extreme. I got used to receiving phone calls from him asking me to come and rescue him from somewhere as he felt unable to move and was terrified he was going to do something sudden like leap in front of a bus.

Stopping the drugs cold made his mood even more unhinged. He started self-harming, cutting his arms, saying it was only thing he could do that made him feel anything at all. He once played noughts and crosses with himself with a knife on his arm. This formerly gentle man would lash out at me at times, dragging me by my collar, tipping food over my head, and even threatening me with a knife.

Long story short, reducing grain-by-grain took 6 months. Even then, his depression through that time was worse than at any other time in his life.

He' doesn't take antidepressants any longer. He's still depressed but at least it's his depression, and he knows his feelings now are genuinely his own, not drug induced.


I have just heard your interview with the lady who suffered PTSD. There are NICE guidelines which explain that anti-depressants are NOT appropriate treatment for PTSD - a course of expert counselling is appropriate, and the NHS are setting up centres that offer this around the country, although there is great ignorance among many GP's regarding the nature of PTSD and the effectiveness of counselling, and, sadly, we have, through our charity, many cases of victims of fatal and serious road crashes simply being prescribed anti-depressants, which can mask symptoms, not aid recovery, and be very difficult to come off. PLEASE ADVISE YOUR LISTENERS THAT THEY SHOULD READ THE NICE GUIDELINES ON THE NICE WEBSITE RELATING TO PTSD IF THEY THINK THEY ARE SUFFERING FROM THIS DEBILITATING CONDITION.


Shock and trauma needs to be processed through the body not the brain. The anti-depressants suppressed your symptoms until you came off them – the shaking and coldness is the body’s natural response to trauma – it is in fact the shock discharging.


Re treatment of people with PTSD
There is at least one very good non-medical intervention, the Rewind Technique, which can be used by trained therapists. It takes minutes to do and is very successful as it works with the brain's memory-forming mechanisms. Unfortunately it is not widely available, and to have it recommended by N.I.C.E involves extremely expensive clinical testing which, as the technique doesn't involve big drug companies, is too expensive to do.

Poeple should read a book called "Prozac Backlash" if they want to know how drug companies have "lost" damaging info on addiction and serious long-lasting side effects caused by their products. We should always remember that these companies ARE NOT OUR FRIENDS - although very useful!

I have been on 3 seperate kinds of anti depressants - the third time because the waiting list for counselling in the area I lived in at the time (Wirral) was over a year long, and I was in such a state that they were worried for my safety. I actually wanted counselling as it was obvious after 2 bouts that the anti depressants were only masking the problem. I ended up being off work for 6 months, as much because the side effects of the pills were so severe with fatigue and disorientation as the depression itself. Subsequently I was taken off the tablets, and received 6 mths counselling after moving area. I have been anti depressant free for a year and a half now, and they help I received has given me different ways to deal with the symptoms when they arise.


I've just been listening to the story of Kirsty's experiences with PTSD after 7/7. You may like to investigate (and to pass on to Kirsty) a relatively new and effective non-pharmaceutical treatment for PTSD that has been developed by the 'Human Givens' school of therapy. Google 'Human Givens' (or 'Mindfields College') and contact Joe Griffin, Ivan Tyrell or Piers Bishop for further information about the 'rewind' method. At first it sounds like some sort of magical procedure, but there is plenty of evidence that it works!


Listening to the sad story of the bad sad effects of anti-depressants, I wonder if anyone has tried alternative medicines? There are so many available now which do not have bad side effects. I have been using homeopathy for more than 20 years and am just now doing an 8 week evening class, which is of course not comprehensive but there are so many remedies according to the precise personal symptoms that under an experienced homeopathic doctor, I'm sure they could find help. I have also done a short course in Bach Flower remedies and maybe some of these could help with expert guidance. I have not heard any discussions about anybodies use of alternative medicines, perhaps it would be interesting to hear other peoples' experiences.

A completely different successful use of alternative medicine was my finding an Alergy expert who was able to test me and successfully prescribe the right diet and herbal pills which cured a very debilitating and excruciating skin itchy rash which I had had for 20 months. I had seen my doctor several times and seen the chief dermatologist at the Jersey Hospital and all they could prescribe was anti-histamines and steroid creams, which just soothed the symptoms slightly and were not good to take as a long term treatment. The dermatoligist wrote an article in which he said that there was a lot that is not known or understood about 'skin' and it is difficult to treat. So I would say try an alergy test with an expert!

I hope this isnt too long for my first email but I do believe in the efficacy of alternative medicines rather than fill myself up with chemicals that are alien to the body. I hope this may be helpful.


Hello Fi Glover and Saturday live team,
I heard with interest your excellent interview with Kirsty, the woman who suffered post traumatic stress disorder after 7/7, and her experience of withdrawal difficulties from her antidepressant medication. At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, I hope you will take note of my latest book and let Kirsty know of its existence.

Although the book addresses the wider condition of depression rather than being specifically concerned with ptsd, I feel confident that she will find useful information and guidance from this modest but reliable book [see attached press release]. Plus, it has great cartoons!

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

“Someting’s happenin!”

I don’t know what it is about me and mad people. Aside from having gone slightly mad myself (with PTSD after the bombings) I seem to attract the friendship of people with unsound minds. Or maybe it is that I am attracted to them, I just don’t know.

A friend had arranged to take me to Mustique for lunch on the anniversary of 7/7 this year. He had arranged for a boat to pick us up and whisk me across the high seas to the manicured millionaire’s island a mere 7 miles from here. It was to be a surprise, a treat to take my mind off things. I can see it now from my porch as I write, but we never made it there that day.

Wilf is a friend from Bequia. A ‘typical’ West Indian rasta man. He has dreads and smokes weed and is always immaculately dressed in complementing bright Caribbean colours. He doesn’t drink alcohol, which is a rarity around here, he says it makes him into ‘a bad man’. For a couple of weeks there was calm in the rum shack at the harbour’s edge. The crew of the boat bringing over the molasses had been arrested for carrying drugs and the extra strong rum had consequently run dry. The men here drink this potent paint stripper of a drink neat with a water chaser. It is 80% proof and fuels violence and fights. Now it is back on the grocery store shelves and island fever has returned.

Two weeks ago Wilf took the boat to St. Vincent, the capital of this tiny collection of Grenadine Islands. He was going to sort out a new passport so that he could visit his son in England. But whilst he was there he was held up by 5 armed police, guns held to every part of his body, and robbed of the $800 in his pocket. Corruption in paradise runs rife. Who can you report it to when you’re mugged by the police themselves?

This was the trigger for the ‘bad man’ to return. He hit the bottle to mask out his pain and anger. The money was to fix his boat, on which he relies for his living, and to pay for his new passport. He drank himself into despair. If he couldn’t fix his boat he would never be able to make the money back to get the passport and he would never be able to see his son. A thought which has made him weep before me many a time. Emotions here run high and are worn openly on people’s sleeves. A far cry from the British stiff upper lip, it is normal to see a grown man crying, hear raised voices in the street and to pass people dancing with joy as they walk.

A week of the ‘bad man’ then a mad man appeared. A desperate phone call on the morning of the 7th
“Something’s happening, come quick!”.
I found him, face gleaming with tears, standing in front of his house.
“Every time I lie down I hear voices talking to me” he cried.
He said he had heard his mobile ringing in the night, even though it had run out of power, and when he put it to his ear there were voices on the other end. All night these voices had raged in his head, he asked me to take him to the hospital.

There was a gathering of people at the hospital entrance, people waiting patiently on benches, in the shade, to be seen. As we approached his eyes filled with terror and he started edging away from them backwards, finally turning and running out of the gate. I caught up with him to find him sweating and shaking, terrified of all who approached.
“I’m frightened of everybody” he told me “what’s happening to me?”.
He wandered around the village eyes streaming and his body dripping with sweat. He picked out his friends one by one
“Something’s happening” he repeated “I’m hearing voices in my head”. They all looked concerned and tried to help. One contacted the private doctor, who can usually be seen straight away without the nerve wracking queues at the public hospital, but he is a 7th day Adventist and doesn’t work on Saturdays.
“I’m hearing voices in my head’” Wilf told a passing old lady.
She looked deep in thought for a while and finally declared
“You need somebody who believes in the Lord God Almighty to get rid of that!”. He looked at her in despair and walked away.

I sat him in the shade under the almond tree to try and calm him down
“Who are you?” he asked me “are you an alien?”.
Another friend approached with a portrait of Che Gue Vara on his T shirt.
“Who’s that?’ Wilf asked, clearly terrified again ”Who’s that on your T-shirt?’ as he cowered under the tree “Go away, you’re frightening me”.

With the help of an old friend of his who is also a policeman we finally got him to the hospital. We walked through a small wooden door with peeling paint to find a man dressed in white sitting at a rickety wooden desk.
“We are only seeing emergencies” he said, without looking up.
“Who defines an emergency? You?’ asked the policeman incredulously as he marched through the room and into the main ward behind looking for a doctor.
“You can’t go in there” said the man in white sternly “And this is not an emergency”.
“Well in my opinion it is” replied the policeman “I have known this man a long time and I don’t like what I am seeing here”. Eventually, more through stubbornly refusing to leave the room that tactful negotiation, the man in white, who revealed himself to be a nurse, started talking to Wilf and asked him what was wrong.

Wilf told the story of voices and fear again. The nurse calmly asked him if he used marijuana or cocaine.
“I’m a ratsa man!” Wilf replied indignantly, “I don’t use cocaine”. He told of his mugging and the drinking and said he was afraid of people in the street.
“Are you afraid of me?” the young nurse asked calmly.
“No” my friend meekly replied.
“What do you think they are going to do to you?”
“Hurt me” he said.
“Do you think I am going to hurt you?”
I was impressed with how this young man was handling the situation. He asked if he had ever had a breakdown before, if there was any history of it in his family.
“My Nana went senile” replied Wilf “a lot of my family gone that way”.
The nurse nodded and continued to make notes.
“Do you think you have any special powers?’” he asked and I knew where he was going. I have sat in enough small rooms with men in white and mad friends at my side. I know that a common symptom of mania is belief in holding extraordinary powers. The voices, the delusions and paranoia together with this belief would set the perfect scene for a manic episode. In my experience, your every day GP at home does not even know this, so this young nurse was winning my respect.
“Yes I have special powers” Wilf told him, and my heart shrank inside,
“Oh no, not again” I thought to myself.
“What sort of special powers?’ the nurse persevered.
“I can see inside people”.
“Oh God no!” I inwardly cried.
The nurse looked unmoved and asked if he could see inside him.
“Yes” said Wilf
“What can you see?”
“I can see you are a good man”. Relief flowed through me but the nurse was not yet convinced. He picked up his stethoscope and waved it at Wilf
“You can’t see solid things like this inside me?’”
“No” Wilf solemnly replied, not even flinching at the absurdity of the question. “I can just see that you are a good man”.

The nurse seemed satisfied and picked up the phone, apparently speaking to the doctor. His mumbling and his accent made him hard to understand but I gathered he was giving the doctor a brief synopsis. More mumbling, more notes, the phone went down and he walked over to the counter and picked up a syringe.
“Your blood pressure is very high, I am going to give you something for it”. There was muttering of Valium and other drugs incomprehensible to me. The doctor hadn’t even seen him yet the nurse was ready to give him a cocktail! Wilf started to quiver again
“No! I am allergic to lots of things, I’m not taking no mad person’s medicine, I’m feeling much better, I don’t need no drugs”.
“Well” the nurse replied sternly “I have no idea why you came to see me then”.
“You have made me feel better” Wilf told him and hurriedly we left. He was right, though, the nurse had helped, just by listening and talking and diagnosing a tangible physical problem of high blood pressure.

I took him back home, fed and watered him and put him to bed. He slept fitfully for a few hours and awoke looking drained and exhausted. Over the last few days he has complained of a racing heart a couple of times but there have been no further episodes. He has been eating like a horse and is slowly regaining his strength.

His insight is remarkable. Not just in the aftermath, but even at the time he was acutely aware of what was happening to him. I have seen people talking to themselves, to their voices, unaware that they are doing so, unaware that there was anything wrong with them. I have spoken to so many men, particularly black men, in hospitals in London who stringently deny their illnesses. It is, I think, a matter of stigma and pride. To admit that you are mentally ill makes you less of a man, to admit it is losing, better to deny it and keep a glimmer of hope that it can yet be beaten. But this was different and fascinating because of it. No hushed whispers, no hiding away, no denials or refusals to seek medical help. He was out there in the street wailing, desperate, telling all that were passing “Something’s happenin, something’s wrong”.

Perhaps it is the security of a small island community that made him feel able to do this. His friends are still concerned, looking out for him, but there seems to be no stigma attached to the fact that he went a little doollaley for a while and he shows no sign of embarrassment or shame. It’s just something that happened, and everyone is glad that he’s better. Perhaps it happens here all the time which is why no one batted an eyelid, I suspect not, though. I suspect that this is just the way of dealing with things here. People are open with their emotions, their troubles and their joys and are not, it seems, judged for it.

We, at home, would do well to learn from this lack of inhibition and openness, particularly where matters of the mind are concerned.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

2 years on

Sometimes it takes your tube being blown up on the way to work one summer morning to put the hum drum repetitiveness of your life into perspective. I took that same journey every day for a year and a half after 7th July trying to prove that I wasn’t scared, fighting a non existent battle with the already dead bombers. I wasn’t going to change my life just because of them, I wasn’t going to let them win. Gradually it dawned that they would never win, they are dead along with their innocent victims who they murdered that day, but I am alive and lucky to be so.

A Christmas card came from friends in New Zealand, ‘Carpe Diem’ it signed off whilst planting a seed. Ten years of working and commuting across London in dark overcrowded tunnels did not, suddenly, seem like the best way of living my life. In January I resigned from my job of 4 years and by the end of February I was living in a timber hideaway perched amongst the tree tops on a luscious green hill with a porch overlooking the tropical Atlantic Ocean. I live on the wild side of this little island in the Caribbean. Nine square miles, 3,500 human inhabitants and hundreds and thousands of others which bear no resemblance to human beings whatsoever. There are bats and lizards, snakes and manacou, humming birds, fireflies, cicadas and frogs. Last week I found an albino locust blown over from sub Saharan Africa along with hazy dust from the desert. The trade winds blow in from the east keeping my house cool with fresh ocean air. As the summer descends dark storms pass through, short and sudden, with wind so strong that the rain feels like hail stones against your skin. The animals awake and the parched vegetation smiles with shiny greenness sucking up the moisture as the heavy clouds pass. There is no water resident on this tropical island, only that which falls from the sky. We collect it on our roofs and store it in large echoing tanks underneath our houses. Rain is a blessing here, not the cold curse it is at home.

I transport myself down from this hill in my red mini moke, canvas shading the sun from above and sides open to the breeze and cooling rain, down through the valley filled with a dancing coconut plantation. Pencil thin trunks with an ecstatic growth of palm leaves at their head, bulbous coconuts waiting to fall on the grazing goats below. I wind back up another hill, past the hairpin bend that is ‘jumbie’ corner. The old folks believe that the spirits of the dead live here and the youngsters delight in frightening them with their tales. At the crest of this hill the vast natural harbour, which has made this place a haven for boat men for centuries, comes into view. A small town has spread its way along the valley and the main street runs along the water front. The harbour is lined with sandy white beaches and is filled with boats, some resident and many passing through. The population here changes every day, new faces being blown in by the wind and old ones sailing out to pastures new. This is a place where people live off the sea. One of the few places in the world where whaling is still allowed, so steeped is it in their culture. The two traditional whaling boats, complete with sails and spears are permitted to catch two whales each a year. So far this year only one has been caught. It was taken to the whaling station (built by the Japanese) out on a little island off the windward shore. Hundreds of people descended at dawn, braving the rocky island in high seas to buy their whale meat and blubber. It was the talk of the town, spirits ran high and there was a carnival atmosphere in the air. In the days before refrigeration the blubber was boiled into oil with the meat cooking inside. This oil preserved the meat for up to a year, stored in a bucket in the shade under their houses. To this day the people of the small whaling village are known for the beauty of their singing voices, said to be lubricated by years of drinking oil from the whales.

It is a small but eclectic community who choose to call this place their home. Locals and expats living uneasily but peacefully together. There is so little crime that the theft of a flashlight is thought worthy of a report to the police. Little is done, and people accused of more severe crimes can buy their way out of a prison sentence. The main pastime here, as far as I can see, is sitting around and talking. The almond tree at the harbour’s edge is the unofficial town hall under which there is always a gathering debating the issues of the day. Sometimes political, but more often than not just plain old gossip. Talking about other people is a national sport here and one in which I happily participate!

Last week I returned from a journey through the elements which cleansed my mind deeper than ever before. I sailed, from this very harbour to another old whaling island in North America. 2,000 miles in a 50 ft schooner through an ocean that was sometimes 4 miles deep and I found myself in Martha’s Vineyard. Six days at sea before we found Bermuda and a further five from there before we reached our destination. We left Antigua to the sight of a humpback whale and awoke the following morning to dolphins over breakfast. After that we had 5 days of very very little. A bird spent an hour trying to land on our mast which was the only life we saw for days. Suddenly the little things become major events at sea. We saw a moon bow (a monochrome rainbow lit by a full moon at night) the green flash as the sun rose, shooting stars and satellites and a never ending expanse of ocean, sky & horizons. The clouds became our scenery and the weather our lifeline. We were lucky to only get badly knocked about for our last night at sea. Others had worse and one boat, along with their crew of four, is still missing. We raced through the Gulf Stream watching the water temperature rise and the seas grow as we approached. Eight hours of rolling ocean and waves breaking over our cockpit and suddenly, at midnight, the water temperature dropped by 20 degrees, the air cooled and the seas around us flattened. We were though the stream in one piece, ejected out of the other end and into the cold New England morning.

I have always nurtured the spirit of the ocean inside me. My father built me a boat when I was 8 and sailing has been my freedom and my passion ever since. It seemed like a natural place for me to come and heal my wounds this haven of sun and sea. For long enough I had tried to keep living my ‘normal life’, battled the tube every day through the height of my PTSD and fought off daily panic attacks. The day I quit my job I also decided to quit the anti depressants which my psychiatrist had prescribed over a year before. Two weeks of cold turkey followed, or SSRI withdrawal syndrome as it is officially known. This felt like the final blow, I had been through enough, struggled on and conquered so much of my illness and just as I was ready to spread my wings and fly I was grounded by yet another trauma. When I landed on this tiny island, the only passenger in a terrifyingly rickety old plane, I felt as if every last strain of energy had been drained from me and I would never be able to move again.

But the Caribbean and the ocean have worked their magic. I am tanned and lean and fit from daily swimming and walking. I eat fresh fish and rice, fried chicken and plantain, nothing processed, no packaging or advertising, just the fruit of the land and the sea. I feel healthy and alive, in tune with the weather and the stars. I can sense the tiny uplift in air movement which precedes an almighty rain storm, I can tell the time by looking at the sun and the date by looking at the moon. I am not afraid any more of the squawking and rustling I hear at night or the bats that swoop from the eves to welcome me home. I have grown used to the enveloping darkness that is night on my hillside. This girl from London has found her feet in a world very far from home. My hairdryer and straightening irons have lain redundant since the day I arrived. I shower in cold water and wash my clothes by hand. My make up bag lies unopened and the only mirror in the house is no larger than my hand. There are no shops to buy ridiculously expensive clothes and indulge myself in that old therapy of retail. The record shop is a hut where I sing the songs that I like to the girl and by the following day she has burnt them onto a cd and charges me the equivalent four pounds for the service. I don’t read papers or follow the international news. That is a conscious decision to break the never ending trawling through the internet for stories of terrorism and government incompetence. Gone is the anger I felt towards our leaders for fuelling the terrorists rage by illegally invading Iraq, gone is the girl who could only talk politics at dinner parties, and ranting raving politics at that. Gone is the obsession, the hurt, the outrage and the fear.

The ultimate test, though, of the extent of this healing was found on my journey back. A bus ride from Martha’s Vineyard took me to New York from where I flew, three days later, back to the Caribbean. Arriving at the Port Authority Bus Station I felt like Crocodile Dundee in the Big Apple. Shocked and fazed, scruffy and dazed I met my old friend and we headed for her apartment. Without a second thought she lead me to the subway. Down into the dirty dark tunnel. A different subway, a different kind of under ground, but still the same cold fear. I could feel that old familiar tightening of the chest, quickening of the heart and cold sweat dripping down my neck. I breathed deeply and tried to use some of my old calming techniques. ‘What are the chances of this happening again?’ ‘And if it does what are the chances of me being on that tube again?’ But it didn’t work, this was a different city, a different subway, and one which had not been attacked before. The chances were higher, so my panicking mind told me, ‘it’s rush hour in New York and I am on the subway, the chances of being bombed are pretty bloody high.’ Eventually we emerged into daylight, out into Queens and above the ground and I began to feel my rigid body relaxing. We walked a couple of blocks to her apartment and I found myself entering a wobbly old lift with barely enough space for the two of us. Another phobia borne from my PTSD, small spaces with too many people, and lifts are one of the worst. We bounced our way up to the 6th floor and I hurried into the safety of her apartment. Safe until I heard the sirens and the car horns blaring outside. Sirens that always took me back to that day, and it seems they still do.

I wandered the city for a couple of days, caught up with friends and tried to shop, but that old instinct just wasn’t there. I walked into my favourite stores, 2 dollars to the pound I told myself, but just turned around and walked right out. I felt cramped and confused, I couldn’t see the sky, where was all that space that I had left behind? An instinctive urge took me back on the subway and down to the site that is Ground Zero. I have been there before, but this was the first visit since 7th July and it hit me like a thunderbolt. This vast empty hole in the middle of the city, gaping and raw, the site of such destruction and death, this is where it had all began. The empathy I felt for the thousands of people involved on that day was so powerful that it reduced me to tears. I thought of those that were there, those that died and those that are still living with the trauma of having been there and survived and the families that are still grieving for their losses. The colossal amount of pain radiating out of this site made me weep for lives that were destroyed that day and the spiral of death and violence which it triggered.

Three days was enough, and now I am back in my house on the hill, marvelling about the journey I have travelled and wondering how the second anniversary will hit me so far away from home. There are very few people here who I have told my story to, another conscious decision to try & distance myself from having to tell the tale. I am torn between doing something special such as having a day alone on the top of a mountain or just carrying on as normal and keeping it in my head. I will miss my friends and fellow passengers with whom I spent a beautiful but emotional day a year ago, we let off white helium balloons into the sky in honour of the people who didn’t make it off that tube. I cried with them for the first time, in public, since the bombs went off. They have helped me through so much of this journey but this year I will have to do it without them. I have a feeling that I will be all right though, a feeling that this is the right place to be, for now. It is Carnival this week end, after all, and there is so much of life still to celebrate.

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