Monday, June 20, 2011

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Long Dry Summer

Smoke Column from the Pacheco Fire
Before I moved from Questa, New Mexico and divorced my husband, who died this last year, I spent 22 days on the front lines of the Hondo Fire. Never did the wind change in any way that I was not instantly awake and alert. I or Marc got up every two hours for weeks to look at the mountain across the valley. The fire and the potential of fire dominated our lives.

There is something about the smell of smoke in the air that dominates it to this day. Clouds of a certain color make my hyper alert. Yesterday the Pacheco Fire in the Santa Fe National Forest sent up a column of smoke 30,000 feet into the atmosphere. I was instantly tharned.
Post traumatic stress disorder (also known as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one's own or someone else's physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, overwhelming the individual's ability to cope. As an effect of psychological trauma, PTSD is less frequent and more enduring than the more commonly seen acute stress response.

 But I grabbed the camera. I had grabbed the camera 13 years ago too when I wanted the column of smoke get closer and closer and top the ridge on the other side of the valley. I know this column of smoke is more than just beyond the ridge. There are several mountain ridges between me and it. And it is going in a north eastern direction that takes it away from me. But I could not sleep soundly until the winds had died. And I woke several times through the night. Once when I heard rain on my metal roof.

I awoke this morning and checked the skies before I even fed the fur kids. And I made note that it had rained. Not much mind you but the humidity currently is up to 29%. It has been in the single digits for days. The wind at gale force levels. It is rising again this morning already.

It is that hyper alertness that is exhausting and puts me on edge. It is why mother wolves with cubs snarl at every approach to their dens.

Tomorrow is Summer Solstice and already I want this long dry summer to be over. Or let it rain. Lots of rain. Buckets of rain. Rain that ruins the 4th of July with its fireworks. Rain that clears the air of smoke and my mind of dread of yet another fire. I so feel the pain and anguish of everyone on the front line of a fire. I want rain for all of us.

1 comment:

  1. Wishing you rain and peace. It finally rained here. My headache left and it is better looking at gloom than the wait for rain. Sets up all kinds of unnerving responses with imbalance in the atmosphere. I couldn't imagine breathing it and watching yur fires spread. Peace.


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