It’s 03:55 in the morning. I have been awake since 02:30. No matter what time I fall asleep over the past few years, my body will always wake at 02:30. Lately it has been for only a few moments before being able to navigate back into a comfortable space atop of my bed and fall back asleep, but not tonight…
I woke suddenly to the sound of someone screaming a shrill and bone rattling plea for help. At first, I thought it had come from the hallway of my apartment building. Feeling so strongly convinced that that’s where it had come from, I removed myself from my bed, and wandered over to the door. I unlocked the door to my apartment and peered into the hallway. First to the left, and then to the right. All I was met with was the sight of a generic hallway void of any character or life, and the humming of overhead florescent lighting. I closed my door and retreated back into my apartment.
‘[Cries] HELP! PLEASE HELP!!!’
The scream permeated my hearing once more. This time not as a sound from outside of my door, but a distant wail from just beyond the here and now. It was at this point that I knew the screaming I was hearing was not coming from any living person, but rather from memory as provided to me by a poisonous mind. It would appear as though my wounded brain is once again oozing its venom into my consciousness. Conceding to the fact that the blood-curdling screech was merely a fabrication of a mind plagued by PTSD, I made my way back onto my bed. For the next hour I tossed and turned as if being flipped within a pan. It was too late, I was already beginning to burn. From the inside out. Anger.
I ripped the covers off me and started walloping my feet along the hardwood flooring of my apartment as I walked into the kitchen. Begrudgingly flicking the light-switch and grabbing some water. Great, now I am too angry to sleep.
Sometimes I think the screams are the worst. Especially when I know who they belong to – or rather, who they belonged to.
As the early morning minutes creeped on, and as I continued to linger motionless within my kitchen, I became increasingly aware of whom the pleas had come from. They were once thrown at me from a young lady no older than seventeen. She was stood in the basement of her family home feverishly trying to cut her brother down from the rafters of which he had hung himself upon. He was fourteen… It was the first thing that happened after I entered the basement of that home that day – she peered over her left shoulder and screamed through agony and fright. She was begging me to help her. The look on her face was as frightful as anything that I have ever seen. Pure anguish and pain. She was stood beside her hanging brother using a steak knife to try and cut through the dog-leash and rope that he had used to hang himself. It was to no avail, and now she was pleading with us to do something.
The sounds of grief are painfully sad. They are also indescribably infuriating when intruding onto my senses some years after the fact.
From outside of my window I can see that the sky is still black. Not a star to be seen. No casting light from a hanging moon, just black. Empty and boundless. It would appear as though the sky is emulating my feelings this morning – bleak.
I am exhausted and yet I cannot sleep. It’s as if my body is back in that basement working on that kid. My shoulders feel the heated burn from doing chest compressions. My heart is beating quickly as though I am rushing through med bags and fetching drugs. As much as the mind remembers trauma, the body does too.
And mine is re-living that day…
I have had to stop typing and shake my hands a few times as my palms can still feel the frailty of that boy’s chest cracking beneath the weight of my hands. Rib separating from sternum. As a medic, it is a sensation that you never get used to but know all too well – Crepitus along your palms.
I have implemented some of the grounding techniques that my therapist and I have worked on, but the damage is done – I am awake. I am remembering. Re-living.
That’s what happens when you hear the dead – you re-live the moment of loss. But not just for a moment, for a lifetime. At least, that’s how it has been for me so far…
Anyway, that’s about all I have to say on that. I’m going to shut this fucking laptop and try to lay back in bed. I will likely have to try and use some earbuds to listen to something – I fucking hate trying to sleep with earbuds. With how angry I am, I am not at all hopeful that I will find sleep – likely I will only find reasons not to.
Wish me luck. And if you’re reading this, I hope you slept well enough for the both of us.