It’s called “secondary trauma” — the trauma of living with trauma. For me it’s another morning that I can’t make sense of.
I come to. I’m face down, sprawled across my double bed, still drunk from the night before.
Since returning to the island, it’s gradually become a more frequent occurrence. I’ve been facing up to what happened and avoiding it in equal measures. I don’t recognise where I am initially. I’m not home.
As I try to lift my head up off the pillow, in my semi comatosed state I become aware of this foreign sticky sensation on my face. Part of the pillow case cover, has stuck to my face and rises with my head. I’m more conscious of where I am. How drunk I still am and how my head just pounds. Then I notice the blood, it’s all over my pillow.
God, I still feel drunk. It takes a second or two to register, it’s my blood on the pillow. Despite my cognitive skills being ridiculously impaired, I try to make sense of what’s happened. Nose bleed or scratching my mosquito bites something rotten in my sleep, are the only logical conclusions I can come up with.
I figure out where I am.
It takes a little while to process that I’m not in London, I’m back in Thailand. I get up from my bed. I’m shirtless but I’m still wearing my jeans and shoes from last night.
What happened last night?
I have a series of blurry images of drinking on my own at different bars. I instinctively check my pockets, got my keys, iPhone and wallet – all good. It’s disorientating but it’s not been the first time that I’ve woken up in such a state. Although the blood on the pillow is something new.
My right hand stings. I look down, there’s dried blood all over it. My hand and wrist are punctuated with random cuts and grazes. It’s then I notice my face feels sore as well.
I walk to the bathroom to check the mirror. . . Fuck
“Fuck!” I just stare into the mirror. My face is an absolute mess. It’s unnerving but I’m steady, like during the tsunami I just freeze up for a second or two.
As I come to terms with my reflection, the first things that goes through my head is that “I probably deserve this”, it’s weird how your subconscious works. It’s followed by, “what the fuck happened?”
I have complete black out of the end of the night, I never blackout.
I’ve either had the shit kicked out of me or I’ve been in a motorbike accident.
God, I hope I’ve been in a motorbike crash I think to my self. I’m not a violent, confrontational person. The only fights I’ve ever been in was to protect those who couldn’t. The idea of not even being able to remember someone beating me to a bloody pulp is hard to take.
I try to piece together what happened.
It’s a haze, more painful than the physical pain I’m experiencing. I have images of me on my own at various bars, surrounded by people but I couldn’t be more isolated. Just me, “drinking for the queen”, self loathing, fighting with myself to stop ruminating over what happened in the tsunami and all the people I let down in the aftermath. Specifically the abortion, break up and what happened at Fulham police station.
Punishing myself by constantly re-reading the statements against me and the context of what was said at court. It’s stupid to reread as I know each statement of by heart almost word for word. And what happened as a result at Fulham Police station, how I was belittled by Dr. Lane and how I took a knife to my wrist after what Inspector Coleman said.
It’s brutal being back to most painful place in my life.
Having flashbacks, freaking out about literally apocalyptic trauma, while struggling to breathe, trapped in a cell/ back of a police van with the continuous images of the dead and dying while being ignored by police.
Stop mate, please!! I try to talk myself down from going back there. I refocus about what I can actually do. Breathe mate.
I look at my face, I raise my hand to my eye but the slightest touch is excruciating, the fact that I’m probably still drunk helps numbs the pain.
Fuck it, I pick up my bloody shirt that’s lying on the floor. As I put it on I notice a rip on the right shoulder, it’s then I notice the deep graze, a patch of skin has been ripped from my shoulder as well. Wearing the same clothes I did from the night before I leave my room, I need to get to a hospital.
At times, it’s hard to compartmentalize them all. Like the numerous points during the tsunami and the search and rescue, the chaos of Krabi Hospital, the fear of Charring Cross hospital and what happened at Fulham police station, waking up to my bloody mashed up face is burnt into the back of my retinas. I’ve got this for keeps.