The next morning I was in an assessment centre. I was there for 6 hours. My tremors continued. A constant feeling of nausea. At least there was a supply of “CuppaSoup”
“The Dr will see you now”
I was led to a room. A nice Indian Dr asked me a series of questions, for about ten minutes.
“My dear, you are not suicidal. You are in severe trauma! Somebody should have noticed that. You are going into deep depression because of it. I will make an appointment for you for another clinic.”
That was it. I was sent home. Officially walking with The Big Black Dog by my side. A few days later I had received a letter from the Mental Health Team telling me to call to make an urgent appointment for another mental health assessment.
Ironically, to the date, one month after the attack.
I was speaking over the phone with my Mom at least once a day. Checking up on me, advising me “not to go over the top with Absolution”. “Oh, and I’m coming to that appointment”. My Mom is in her 70’s, doesn’t drive after a stroke a few years back. It was going to be nearly 300 mile one way train trip from the small town she lived in Wales, to where I lived outside of London.
We made arrangements to meet a few days before the appointment. It was The Diwali Festival over the next few days. I quickly discovered that the fireworks used at Diwali gave me tremendous anxiety and panic attacks. My local area has a tremendous Asian Community, and a very large Hare Krishna Temple, meaning lots of fireworks that night.
More irony, my Mental Health meeting was on Bonfire Night. Thankfully in the middle of the day. The Railway Station meeting was very emotional.
The Mental Health Assessment was carried out in a beautiful, modern surgery. A matriarch looking lady ushered us into her office. “No, ladies first.”
“My, such a charming man!” The Dr replied.
We sat down, and for an hour we talked about the flashbacks I was getting about the attack, and how it was not making sense. I talked about the other subsequent events that had happened. “I’m going to arrange another appointment for you with my colleague.” I was given a small book on Trauma to read. We all stood up to leave, I stood back to let the ladies out.
“You are such a charming man. You’ll like the book, it explains your actions of being so polite: ‘scanning the joint’ and avoidance tactics”
“I didn’t get that last thing that was said.” I spoke.
“Oh I do!”
Watching me zip my jacket up high in to the collar, and pulling my baseball cap low over my face. “Let’s stop off and get you a little medication on the way home! I think you will need it tonight!” We left the off licence
“Are you sure Mom, a taxi will cost hardly anything for such a short journey”
“It’s still light and rather mild. You’re a bit jumpy though!”
“Oh that, it must be the early fireworks I guess“
We were back at that flat by the time the conversation ended. We entered that flat:
“You do scan…”
“I could see you looking straight down as soon as any one came near.”
There was a loud bang over the buildings. “You’re like a frightened rabbit!! Get this open!” The door was locked, alarms in place. Curtains closed. Television on!
We sat and chatted about that meeting “It pains me to hear those words you spoke so openly. You were scared and embarrassed. The bits of the attack are painful for a mother to hear. But I AM SO proud of you!”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re getting help already. Many others wouldn’t be able to do it so soon!”
I looked at the floor, to the glass on the coffee table. I looked at The Big Black Dog looking at me, it stood up and walked out of the room. I found a glimmer in the words of my Mom, well, till she punched me in the arm.
“Yeah man! You smiled!”
I slept a little better that night, for the first time since the flashbacks started! The Big Black Dog leaving the room occasionally. Hopefully not bugging my Mom!
A few days later, a letter arrived for an appointment the following week. Six weeks after the attack. The appointment was with a neurologist. It lasted one hour. Lots of tactile tests. Push and pull tests. Walking and talking.
“Congratulations Sir, You have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder!”
So matter of fact. “But I’m not a soldier!”
“Come now! You are in severe shock because of what happened! You have done well to get this far!”
I was given a letter to take straight to my GP, outlining medication and course of action. That was it. Diagnosed. I was taken back to that flat. Barely able to walk or talk. I made my way to the GP surgery. Showed my letter to the receptionist.
I was queue jumped straight in.
“We need to up the medication straight away! It’s already in your system, but will still take up to six weeks to work properly.”
Both medications were tripled in strength. I walked home from the surgery with The Big Black Dog Absolution was close by. I received a phone call from the Mental Health Team. Could I make it in for another assessment for the following day.
I agreed Sat at the table, Absolution didn’t seem as important.