You stand there. From one moment to the next, an ordinarily day is turned into a nightmare. The earth starts shaking. Objects are falling down, shattering when they hit the floor. You freeze, trying to not move. Your heart thumps, terrified. Will you survive this earthquake ?
I have been in my new job as a clinical psychologist for one month now, so it’s time for a update. I still can’t believe how fast the time has gone, it feels like the day is over before it even began. This is good, since it means that I am engaged. There is seldom a dull moment, and at the end of the day I look back and realize I have learnt something new. Already I have touching moments that I will carry with me until I take my last breath.
I have met many interesting people with a plethora of problems. Some with depressions, one with panic attacks, several with traumatized childhoods and also people with anger issues, AD/HD and personality disorders. Since I still see new patients, I haven’t had many conversations with anyone yet, and for many we are still getting to know each other. Finding the correct diagnosis is important, and we can’t move on before we have pinpointed what needs to be looked at more closely.
But even if we haven’t started on direct treatment yet, this first phase is hopefully already a step in the right direction. Although it’s necessary to go through some surveys and standardized questions, there is room for therapeutic work.
The first phase of therapy is often about stabilizion and education. By getting to know oneself better, the path for change is created. For traumatized victims, learning about how trauma effects the body, is crucial. For people with panic attacks, knowing the symptoms and normalizing them, helps a lot. If you understand what happens, it’s easier to start coping with it. In some ways, fear of symptoms is what many struggle with the most. When we face or monsters in a controlled way, we can finally watch them from afar and act like we want to.
Elizabeth Gilbert described in her book ‘big magic’ how she looked at fear: Fear is always with her, telling her that she should be careful. Prodding her to not take chances, because she might get hurt. She has learnt to thank her fear, because it wants to protect her. At the same time she also tells her fear that it can be there and monitor her surroundings if it wants to, but she must take command. She soothes herself by accepting that she will feel terrified and unsafe, at the same time as she assures herself that she can cope with what comes.
Many of my patients are still afraid. And that’s okay. We all are, often. I will not promise a rose-garden, but I want to explore the area they walk in no matter what is there.
They never got the chance to live in a warm home, cooking dinner. Laughing with their children. Instead some ended up at hospits, another shot of ampethamine running through their veins. One bad decision, and their lives were changed forever.
I have just watched an episode of ‘Kristine moves in’. It’s about a journalist moving into different institutions, and in this episode, she stayed at a hospits. She met wonderful people.
One of the addicts was an artist, paining beautiful pictures. But he had a difficult life, and he made some bad choices that will haunt him for the rest of his life. His talent in front of him in form of a perfect picture. If only he could wake up and see it clearly.
Whk are we to judge? Could we not be in the same position? What if we’d experienced abuse and trauma? Wouldn’t we want to escape?
We can sit in our warm houses. We can live our privileged lives. But we should never forget how lucky we are. When we tuck our children into bed at night, remember all the people who lost their chance to do the same. The people who could not provide for the people they love the most. Who were helpless against the addiction.
Remember all they never got.
When I close my eyes, I hear them scream. I see them running, trying to save their lives. I can also see the 10 children who stood no chance and died.
The terrorism in France scared me. But not just that, it breaks my heart. The 22 of July Anders Behring breivik shot and killed innocent teenagers on Utøya. The tradgey is that there is no time to heal the traumas, since another act of terror triggers all who’s lost somebody to terrorist-attacks again. I can not imagine what the ones left behind must be feeling right now. But I can cry. Even if it doesn’t help them, I know the support the families and friends needs, will be provided. Because in even the most horrific situations, there will always be people ready to do all they can to support and help those left behind.
In Norway we tried so hard to not show hate, but love. We wanted to be strong together, and knew that the only thing we could do is to counterattack by the weapons we had available: Our empathy and love. After the terrorism in Norway, we started to volunteer more. We wanted to do something, we NEEDED to do something. To find meaning in the meaningless. And I do hope many in France will do the same. Because terrorism doesn’t occur in a vacuum. There is a reason that extremist become who they are. France is a hard country to live in for many refugees. They are lonely and desperate and easy targets for ISIS. So they find comfort in what they feel are the only alternative: A group that brainwashes them and provide companionship. Even if it’s hard for me, and others, to accept that people can do evil things, we must not sink to their level. Fear is dangerous and polarize society even more. We can’t think that the solution is to send all refugees home. We must work together to find solutions that bind people together.
Luckily, Norway has been blessed. We have a system that tries to integrate refugees into the society. We try to do something about problems before lonely and angry people goes to the step where violence feels like the only option. We are also blessed with millions who are able to respond with love in the worst circumstance. Because we truly do our best to take care of everyone. There are not many murders in Norway, compared to many other countries, but we do fail to prevent many tragedies too. We have no ‘perfect solution’ that will wipe away all the problems we have. But we try our best.
But before we can start solving our problems we must take time to grieve. Grieve over the ones who lost everything they had. The ones who will never see smile on their children`s face and hold them tight. Only then can we start to make changes, to make the world a better place. Because, even if there has been over 200 terrorist attacks the last year, there could have been more. we don’t need to go far back in time to see this: The Holcost killed so many that it’s unfathomableb. My wish is that we can answer the hate by not hating the people who don’t terrorize others, refugees and citizents who come to us in need. Because most of them mean no harm. At the same time we must protect ourselves, but I honestly believe that the best way to protect is to collaborate and find new solution that bring us closer together.