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My Terror Attack

Thread starter #1
I want to talk about the terror attack from the beginning.
I have been asked questions about it, and talking about the bits and bobs has put it all disjointed in my mind again, so I want to type out what happened, beginning to end, and hopefully that will put things straight in my mind again. If you are likely to find it triggering, don't read on.

I went on my normal lunch break. I took it at 2 because I liked to have shorter afternoons.
I walked out of my office and over Hungerford Bridge towards the Southbank Centre.
I turned right towards the London Eye, and there was loads of school children getting in my way.
I saw Shrek's Adventure attraction and watched a promo video of it, thinking it looked like a terrible attraction.
I walked onto the bridge and saw a car go past me and mount the pavement. Hitting several people like a bowling ball hitting pins. I didn't know what was going on. I was really confused.
I froze for a few moments as the chaos unfolded. I turned to walk away. Still really confused.
As I was walking away I heard a really loud bang. I thought it was a bomb. It turned out it was the guy being shot by the police.
I ran.
Then I called my mum as police cars started speeding past me. Before long there were helicopters flying overheard, and it had reached the news.
My legs felt like jelly.
I walked back across Hungerford Bridge and could see further chaos unfolding when I looked over to Westminster.
I stayed on the phone to my mum until I got to Embankment Garden, near my office. I hung up and went back into work.
I told my colleagues what I had just seen, and they all started to watch the news on their computers.
I had a cup of tea and continued work. Trying to avoid hearing my colleagues talking about the events.

The following day I walked across the bridge, trying not to let what happened bother me.
I carried on working as normal for a few days - maybe a week or so.

Then one night I couldn't sleep. I was suddenly experiencing flashbacks. I tried watching Gilmore Girls to take my mind off it. Feel good happy television.
It reached about 2am, and I suddenly realised, through watching the show that I really, really needed my mum. She lived in Leicester. I called her at 2am, in floods of tears. She suggested trying to get some sleep, but then going back to Leicester the next day. I packed my bag and booked myself on to the earliest train.
I spent around a week at home, then the Sunday came around, the day before I was due back.
I had a complete meltdown. I sat on my stairs and cried. A lot.
I spent another few days at home before taking the leap and going back to London.

As soon as I was back, I booked a doctors appointment. And signed up for counselling. I didn’t particularly like my counsellor. He seemed to not want to talk about the attack, instead focusing on my childhood etc.
This was just whilst I was on the waiting list for CBT. Once I had my CBT I felt loads better. I stayed better for years. Until I was training for my current role. They showed a picture of a terror attack (which sort of made sense in context). It gave me a big flashback. I went outside the room and grounded myself.

I soon forgot about it, and carried on as normal. Carrying the PTSD with me, but not letting it hold me back.

Until the past few weeks. People at work are finding out and talking about the attack. Asking me questions. Fireworks and busy rooms are throwing me into flashbacks. I am not ok.

I have started seeing a different counsellor who seems to understand me. But the PTSD, flashbacks and survivors guilt are all wearing me down. I hope it stops soon.
 
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Thread starter #2
Currently don’t know what to do with myself.
I’m meant to be going to a fireworks party tomorrow, and I don’t want fireworks to be an avoidance, but equally I really, really don’t want to go.
Considering if I should message any of my friends.
Out of my three closest friends: one is newlywed, one has a newborn and the other one is organising the bonfire party.
Some of my work colleagues saw me having a panic attack and tried to understand what was going on, but none of them had seen me in the aftermath, so probably don’t understand.
I don’t know what to do.
My mind is racing with images of the panic attack and of workmates soon afterwards laughing at the fact I was such a mess. So even my closest coworkers feel like enemies.
I usually discuss these things with my mum, but she’s away at the moment, and my dad, whilst a wonderful dad, isn’t really great at the emotions thing.
I’m struggling.
 
#3
Can you call your therapist? I think what is happening is pretty common in the ptsd world. It's a snowball effect. One small thing happens, then another, then another and the next thing you know your snowball is an avalanche
But the PTSD, flashbacks and survivors guilt are all wearing me down. I hope it stops soon.
It may not stop - but you can get better at coping, which makes it less horrible.
I’m meant to be going to a fireworks party tomorrow, and I don’t want fireworks to be an avoidance, but equally I really, really don’t want to go.
Dont go. First rule of ptsd - you don't do things that will make you worse. You don't owe anyone an explanation about your ptsd. It's just as easy to say "I don't feel well, so I won't be coming." Make it a non event. Trying to tough it out? Ya-- that can go bad pretty quickly and if you are already triggered??/ ......
My mind is racing with images of the panic attack and of workmates soon afterwards laughing at the fact I was such a mess. So even my closest coworkers feel like enemies.
You workmates laughed at you or you are afraid they will laugh at you?
 
Thread starter #4
You workmates laughed at you or you are afraid they will laugh at you?
I was afraid they would laugh at me. I know, logically, they never would because they’re nice people. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling humiliated by having such a breakdown in front of people.
Can you call your therapist? I think what is happening is pretty common in the ptsd world. It's a snowball effect. One small thing happens, then another, then another and the next thing you know your snowball is an avalanche.
You’ve absolutely hit the nail on the head there. That’s exactly how I feel at the moment, that it’s snowballing and I’m on the edge of an avalanche! I might give my therapist a call and just talk it through. We also have a 24 hour crisis line at work, so might give them a quick call and talk to them if it gets any worse.
 
Thread starter #5
I went to the bonfire party. Actually seeing the fireworks going off, rather than just hearing the bangs helped to remove the association with the attack.

I'm back at work today and already on edge. Several people have asked if I'm ok following my breakdown last week, and it's just making me feel worse. Plus sitting back in the place where I had such a severe flashback isn't helping things. Plus there are a few slightly stressful things happening in the office, and I just want to hide away and not face anything. I almost pulled a sickie today, but thought if I don't go in, things will only get worse.

I used my light box this morning, and I've been taking vitamin D, so that's been helping a bit. I think part of the problem is the fact I have Seasonal Affective Disorder as well.

I have a therapy appointment tonight, and I'm feeling sick with nerves. He's a great guy, and really understands me. But I sort of feel like I'm being put under the microscope a bit when I'm in therapy. I can't hide my problems and pretend it's not happening.
 
Thread starter #6
I went to my therapy appointment. He explained how flashbacks worked and what to do if I had another one. It wasn't really anything new, but I suppose reiterating what I learned in CBT is a good thing.
I've been feeling generally better this week, and even managed to help a friend through a mental health issue she was having without it feeling completely emotionally draining!
We're in a busy period at work at the moment, so that has kept my mind occupied, but I'm working alone today, which means being alone with my thoughts a little more than usual. I'm going to try and keep occupied, but whilst too many people around feels chaotic and leads to flashbacks, being alone with my thoughts is sometimes worse.
 
Thread starter #7
I had another therapy session last night and I am exhausted.

We tried to remove myself from the trauma so that it becomes a memory rather than a flashback.

It meant pretending I was in a cinema, and imagining I was in the projection box, watching myself watch the trauma in black and white. We went over it over and over again until I was emotionally drained.

We then moved on to another traumatic experience, which was a car crash I was in years ago. I watched myself watching the crash happen in black and white and it caused a couple of nasty flashbacks. I thought the traumatic moment was when the car went into the tree. But actually, the moment that flashed in colour and I struggled to keep in black and white, was the moment I put my hand to my head and saw it covered in blood when I removed it. I had to go back over it and ensure that bit stayed in black and white. It was really hard and I was really exhausted by the end. It made me feel a little better about the traumas, but it also caused a couple of nightmares last night. I'm hoping this won't be a reoccurring thing, and it was just because I was thinking about the traumas.

Absolutely shattered today. Struggling to think about work. But need to try and muddle through.

I want to talk to somebody about how tired I am, and how exhausting yesterday was. But my boss is super stressed, and everybody has loads to do, so I'm feeling a bit alone.
 
#8
We are here with you.:hug: We get the exhaustion, really do. Good on you for working so hard but totally understandable that you feel drained and need more rest now.

I hope you can get some downtime and please be as gentle with yourself as possible.

You are doing good work and it will pay off, but you need to listen to your needs, especially closely, as you do this work.

Gentle hugs @Eliza, if that's ok.
 
Thread starter #9
Thank you @mumstheword - my boss is really understanding, but she's asked a couple of times how therapy is going. And I know it's because she cares, but I can also tell she wants me to go into detail, rather than just saying "It's fine".

My whole body feels super heavy today and my mind feels really dull and foggy from the tiredness. I just went to make a cup of tea and forgot my mug. I styled it out by walking past the kitchen and pretending I was going elsewhere. I'm slightly worried about making mistakes today, so I'm mostly just pretending to work and not doing anything too taxing.

I have to stay late tonight as well as I have organised an event. Otherwise I think I would go home.

Thank you for the virtual hug. I feel like I need a real one, but everyone I would normally talk to (and tbh, by 'everyone' I mean the one person in the office who really understands) seems super busy today.
 
Thread starter #10
I can feel a panic attack coming on. My therapist taught me to look for one thing in a room I haven't noticed before, so I'm doing that. But I'm feeling sweaty palms, and beating heart. Trying to take deep breaths and think of something else.

I can't have another massive panic attack at work. Last time it was so awkward.
 
Thread starter #11
I've nearly made it to the end of today.

Half an hour to go.

And a brief speech at the event.

I haven't eaten because I feel sick. I even emailed the person I'm fairly comfortable talking to in the office saying I needed a vent/hug. She hasn't responded, but I know she is super busy.
 
Thread starter #12
I had a vent/hug yesterday. It made me feel a little better. I didn't sleep much last night and I felt too sick to eat. The event went ok, but little things were getting on my nerves and I was getting het up over the small things, which isn't like me.

I feel restless today. I keep having thoughts about the attack/car accident. But at least they are thoughts and not flashbacks. So I guess the exercise worked? Even though I'm feeling worse for it. The memories are not stored in a little box, ready to jump out in the form of flashbacks at the slightest trigger. They're more floating around my head now. Hopefully they will go back in the little box soon, but I will be able to control when they come out. I called my doctors earlier to try and get an appointment to get some anxiety/sleeping medication. But the only appointment available was for 11.30am, and I couldn't miss that much work. I'm going to try again tomorrow if I don't get any sleep tonight.
 
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