It’s been a month and a day, and I’m still having palpitations for no apparent reason. I would just be washing dishes or doing the laundry, and I would feel the shakes. I would think of happy thoughts, but the drumming of my heart would not go away. It would just continue for 10, maybe 15 minutes, and my hands and legs would be shaking even while I continue to do housechores. I would hum, but the fear would continue. And I would think, why am I afraid? I should not be. And I would try to steer my thoughts to my goals, one month from now, six months from now, a year from now, and then I would forget that I’ve been afraid of something I could not put my finger on. And I would be okay.
A week ago, I was in a van to the city, and the man across me was talking to someone on his phone, a red S3, just like the one I lost, and my heart raced, and I felt a pinch, thinking about the photos I have saved on that phone, followed by fear, then anger. Fear, because I have photos of my kids there, and I worry that people are watching them. They know us, but we don’t know them. Anger, because there are people who choose to live the easy way, taking what others have worked hard for. They think they are entitled. They think there is no other way.
We have the steel fence up, we have the CCTV cameras, we have alarms on all the windows and doors, my husband still sleeps in my office, like a security guard on duty, and still, the fear persists. More than burglary, my fear is of an invasion. So we have trained the kids on how to act and react on certain situations. We have code words, and each of them have been assigned what to do in case of an emergency. Where to position themselves so they are not vulnerable from bad people outside the house. The police numbers are visible everywhere. At dusk, my husband would go out to padlock the gate, and I would be standing guard just outside the door. And if someone attempts to hold him/us at gunpoint while outside, we have trained the kids to lock us out. When you hear either of us say lock the doors, just lock the doors, don’t ask questions, and call the police. Whatever happens, never open the doors for anybody, until we call out the code that it’s safe.
Is this Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
No, I don’t think so. The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
While I do have nightmares and severe anxiety, I still don’t think I have PTSD. The article cites four types of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, or changes in emotional reactions. I have intrusive memories, yes, but not so severe that it has affected my functioning. I still maintain my regular work hours, life goes on, and if I am to be upbeat about it, the experience just gave me an excuse to spend more time crocheting, as the activity relaxes me.
But I have to admit that my emotional reactions have been heightened drastically. Like the other day. I was working, and my husband was going to the bank. There were workers outside, as we are having some carpentry work done around the house. So he left the gate open, and Jude was playing outside. I heard a car pass, and I heard it slow down, then it accelerated just a bit louder and faster, so I took note of that in my mind. After a minute, I got up to take a break, and called out to Jude. No answer. I went to the kitchen, and saw his slippers there. I called out again, still no answer. I went out to check where he was playing, he was not there. I asked one of the workers if he has seen my son, and he said he was just at the garage playing earlier. Then the sound of the car earlier came to my mind, and I started shaking.
I called my husband’s cellphone. He was not picking up. I called eleven more times, no answer. I could hear my heartbeat already, and I was shaking so badly I could not even hit redial at one go. I was going to call the police, but in my panic, I could not even recall what my son was wearing. I tried to calm myself down, and decided to call the bank. I only have one hope. That Jude went with his dad. But Jo was not picking up. Did something happen? What if? What if? Worst case scenarios and what would I do if… I was going to burst, and Bea was starting to feel my fear.
So I called the bank’s landline, asked if my deposit has been received. I just wanted to know if Jo made it to the bank. Yes, the deposit was received. Can you please check if my husband is still there? Yes, he was still there. Can I please talk to him? I heard the teller calling him, and then his voice was on my ear. I only had one question. Is Jude with you? Yes, Jude was with him. And the dam broke. All my fears have been released. I could not hear him anymore. I could only hear my sobs, and Bea took the phone from me.
I don’t know how long it took them to get home, but I was still sobbing when they arrived. According to Jo, he heard Jude shout out to me that he was going with his dad to the bank, but I did not hear it. He had left, but he saw Jude was outside, so he turned around and picked the boy up. The car that I heard pass was him, it slowed down and stopped to let Jude in, and accelerated again.
We have a rule. Do not leave without letting us know. But Jude did let me know. I just didn’t hear him, and he assumed that I did.
So we have amended that rule. Do not leave without letting us know, and make sure that you are acknowledged.
But I digress. I was talking about how my emotional reaction has changed since the burglary. That day, I let fear get hold of me instantly. I had no rational thoughts, just fear. My husband says a little bit of fear is good, as it makes us more careful, it makes us more aware. But I should not let it take over, as too much of it can paralyze, and then I’ll be useless, defeated without a fight.
I’ve been asked if I’ve been to counselling, or the doctor, or if I’ve even considered going, and the answer to all three is no. I don’t think I need to. I think I just need to spend more time praying. And to remember this:
Do you have questions, comments or feedback about this post?
Please leave me a message, or post them, at my Facebook Page.