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Life of PI- Chapter 56-PTSD

January 24, 2013

In the book “Life of PI” in Chapter 56 the author Yann Martel talks about Fear

For those who may not know the story and without giving up too much of the plot it basically is about a young Indian boy who, through a series of events, finds himself in the middle of an ocean on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

In Chapter 56 it starts out “I must say a word about fear.  It is life’s only true opponent.  Only fear can defeat life.  It is a clever, treacherous adversary…. It has no law or convention, shows no mercy.  It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease.  It begins in your mind always.  One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy.  Then fear slips into your mind….”

This was such a descriptive passage about fear but it can be easily substituted with the wordPTSDPTSD sweeps over you like a wave, often when you least expect it.  It can be set off by so many different things, a sight, a sound, or even a smell.  Before you even realize what is happening, you are off to the races dealing with your feelings and response to something you don’t understand.

The Chapter goes on step by step talking about how fear shifts from mind to body from action to reaction.  “You make rash decisions.  You dismiss your last allies: hope and trust.  There, you’ve defeated yourself.  Fear, which is but an impression, has triumphed over you.”

Finally the author talks about what must be done.  I’ve said it here many times but I am not alone.  You must start talking about your PTSD

The author puts it this way.  “The matter is difficult to put into words.  For fear, real fear, such as shakes you to your foundation (fear), such as you feel when you are brought face to face with your mortal end (fear), nestles in your memory like gangrene: it seeks to rot everything, even the words with which to speak of it.   So you fight hard to shine the light of words upon it.”  and here is the part that made me reread the entire passage substituting PTSD for the word fear, “Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you”

This is a fight you are waging and your opponent is PTSD.  This is a difficult fight and one that is easy to use as an excuse to give up and run away from the battlefield .  The choice is up to you.  Regular posting is the first step.  You are welcome here and others will follow that will need both your support and will be bolstered by your courage.