So, today (Friday) I had a therapy appointment. I finally decided to seek help after struggling to deal with the Grenfell Fire. I got told I have PTSD. I put off asking for help because I felt there were worse off people then me and after the first 6 months my nightmares became intermittent. But after completely freaking out about a possible fire hazard I realised I needed help.
Since the fire I have gotten progressively worse. I used to use wax melts but wont use them anymore incase the candle starts a fire. When I goto public places I am hyper vigilant and if I spot a fire hazard I leave. I can no longer attend BBQs because of the smell. It is forever now associated with the smell of burning people. I need to get back to normality.
PTSD is something that might not hit you straight away but can be devastating. It is not just combat vets who deal with it.
On June 14th 2017 I woke up next to my boyfriend as we always did and I went to shut my window. I asked him “who is BBQing at 5 am?” We made breakfast and I went to check the travel. That’s when I saw what was happening. Something inside me turn off and auto pilot kicked in when I realised it was not BBQ but people dying.
All I know after that is I went to an appointment which cost me £100 to get to and from by cab.
When I came back from the appointment I chatted to the ladies in the estate and realised things were still needed at the volunteer shelters so my mum and I loaded the car up and made our way down by this point it was 2PM. I looked at the tower and I could still see flames. The smell was so bad that even the face mask I had been given did not help. I wanted to cry, scream and be sick all at the same time. Mum and I made the rounds and ended up at my childhood church which was a stones throw from the tower.
The sight I saw was chaotic. You had volunteers and their kids helping out. Survivors who were now displaced sleeping on chairs and kids who survived clinging onto their parent/parents for deal life.
Mum helped with the donations and I helped keep snack table stocked up. The, I went to where people were crying. I swear I was with this woman for 30 minutes but it felt like hours. I prayed with her until she got to see her mother. As I walked away a nurse who dropped everything to help out came and asked me if I was ok and I just broke down in to tears. The children’s faces, the pain and hurt and loss I was witnessing I could not comprehend what was going on. I still can’t. She asked me when was the last time I ate and I realised I hadn’t eaten at all so she got me food. Even though I was protesting saying give it to someone in need she fed me and hugged me.
I knew then because of my own health I had to leave I could not stay there any longer.
Mum and I left after a couple of hours and I was drained.
That’s when the nightmares started and the guilt for not hacking it out longer due to my mental health issues, my physical disabilities and everything else.
I put off getting help for the same reason I tried to get out of food… someone else needs it more than me but I pushed it down so hard it came back with a vengeance.
Please if you were traumatised by the fire, it’s never to late to ask for help.