Very occasionally, I have a conversation with someone where I say, “What you just said is important. If you write about this, I’d publish it on our website.” Usually, that’s as far as it goes. I had a conversation recently with a survivor of complex trauma whose courage and conviction blew me away. And so I present these words to you–not from me, but from someone who had the courage to go to the darkest of places inside of her to write this. Trauma survivors pay a price for revisiting their trauma–and her concern for the vulnerable in our midst had her willing to pay this price.
She comes from a place that gives her the right to say important things. Her voice has a hard earned wisdom that I would never wish for anybody to have because of the price she paid to have it.
Trigger warning: For trauma survivors, be aware. She is candid for a time that requires people to really get it. Some of this is hard to read.
If you have a response, may it be to acknowledge the strength of the writer, not to express divisiveness in a way that heaps one more ounce of pain upon a tender soul. Thank you for your anticipated support for her courage and her passion. Her compassion for those that struggle even as she is in the midst of her own struggle is stunning. These are her words:
I am a trauma survivor. I live with complex PTSD.
This means I struggle daily with flashbacks and nightmares. I have worked hard to live well in spite of the symptoms I experience. I am triggered by heat from being locked in a hot closet and feeling like I can’t breathe because of images of being choked and hands over my mouth. Those flashbacks propel me right back to those times in which it was happening, like it is happening right now.
Wearing a mask triggers me a lot. Yet every time I go out I wear that mask which triggers me and I often have to work every minute to ground myself when feeling like I can’t breathe or will die from the heat by repeating in my head…it’s not then, it’s 2020 and I’m safe, and I have a voice now.
If I can wear a mask, so can you.
I wear a mask to do my part in protecting others from Covid-19. There are many scientific studies that show that the wearing of masks can greatly reduce passing COVID-19 to others. God forbid anyone else should suffer the experience of feeling of being unable to breathe. And though it is a terrifying and frightening experience for me, I am able to ground myself usually within a few minutes, while those suffering from COVID-19 may die while experiencing this kind of terror and are all alone. I would not wish this kind of death on anyone, even those who will arrogantly not wear a mask. Just imagine yourself in the hospital, dying while unable to get enough oxygen, terrified and alone.
To be sure there are some legitimate reasons not to wear a mask, but I am speaking about those that don’t because they don’t “feel” like it or it makes them hot and uncomfortable. Many people don’t like it either but still do for others’ sake. I feel hot, uncomfortable and am triggered a lot when wearing a mask.
If I can do it, so can you.
It makes me sad when people argue that it’s their right and they have the freedom to decide whether or not to wear a mask. Remember, with your freedom and rights there are responsibilities to society. We don’t get to decide if we follow traffic laws, or wear seatbelts or, hell, even wear clothes because it’s what society in general and the government has decided. So, too, for the safety of the public we are asked to wear masks.
For the good of society you can wear a mask.
Think of the elderly or those that are immunosuppressed and those who, if infected, could bring it home to those greater at risk of dying from COVID-19.
For the vulnerable of our society wear a mask.
To the people who argue that they can’t wear a mask because it is hot and uncomfortable and because that makes them inhale too much carbon dioxide I ask you to consider surgeons who wear masks for hours on end. The surgeons will categorically inform you that they are just fine wearing masks, thank you. No worries about carbon dioxide. A surgeon posted a video showing how he had worn 6 masks and lived to tell the tale. And I imagine they are hot and uncomfortable too.
If surgeons can wear masks so can you.
Consider healthcare workers who have to mask up often with a N95 mask and a surgical mask, wear protective gowns and shoe protectors, gloves AND an astronaut type hood (if available) to do their best to protect themselves and their patients. They are hot and uncomfortable much more so than someone would be in a single little mask.
Protect those healthcare workers from being overloaded with so many patients that they can’t give each patient the amount of care they need and that healthcare workers ache to provide. Protect them from the danger from contracting the virus. They are in danger not only at work but also out in public when they are doing the things everyone needs to do in everyday life.