Treme…Creighton and I

I’ve just finished watching Sunday’s episode of  Treme and apparently, ole Creighton has committed suicide.

Hmmmm, suicide….

Depression around that time was hitting just about everyone… whether your home was damaged or not.  Add to that, the fact that Creighton could no longer do what he loved which was to write. I guess the pain was just too much.  He just wanted the pain to end.

Better yet, he just wanted the NUMBNESS  to end.

That’s what PTSD does…makes you feel numb.

My hubby says that, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  That everyone goes through a “rough patch” at some point and time.  The thing about clinical depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome is this…

It feels like you’ve fallen into an abyss….and everyday…you fall deeper into it.

It doesn’t FEEL temporary ..and you just want it to end.

When I came home after the storm, I was already sad because I was away from my kids. I was sad because my home was destroyed.  I was sad because my life was turned completely upside down.

The depression came later.

The post-traumatic stress syndrome symptoms hit me after that.

And it creeps up on you…one day you’re sad and the next day…you can’t go to work anymore.

It’s deeper than the crying that most people were doing in the city at the time.

I couldn’t sleep.  If I got three hours of sleep time in…I’d dream of flood waters.

I couldn’t concentrate…couldn’t read.

Couldn’t remember shit.

Couldn’t speak correctly….had trouble forming my words.

It got so bad that,  my husband and I call it “katrina tongue.”

I felt numb.

All the things I love to do like crocheting, reading, taking non-credit courses to learn new stuff (hey, I’m a nerd so sue me), I could not do.

I was paralyzed.

And I get that,  his wife and his daughter missed it because…you put up a front to fool the people closest to you so that they THINK  you’re alright.

You’re walking around as if everything is fine but, really all you want to do is be left alone.

Because, your mind has gone somewhere that, you just can’t quite put your finger on…

and it has taken your spirit to that same place.

The city was empty, they needed nurses everywhere at that time…6 months after the storm.

I remember saying to myself , “I’m about to make a killing here…the kids aren’t here, hubby working 12 hr shifts….no one to worry about, I can work until I drop!”

The problem came when I tried to walk out of the door…I couldn’t.

I. Could.Not.Work.

Jan. 2006,I went to Del.gado to take a sign language course.  I went through registration and everything.

The first day of class, I couldn’t leave the house.

I never went to the class…I COULDN’T.

I wanted to…I COULD NOT GO.

I wanted to go out there on mardi gras day…I could not go.

I remember driving down Franklin Ave near the lake and saying to myself,” if I just keep driving straight, I’ll end up in the lake.”

Clinical depression + post traumatic stress = suicidal thoughts.

That’s why so many people were committing suicide around that time.

It had nothing to do with them not feeling  fabulous or not loving themselves or their families.

It’s that damned abyss they fell into.

So, how did I climb out?

There was a big-ass billboard on Gentilly Blvd. that said something about call this number if you needed someone to talk to.

I didn’t think I needed someone to talk to at the time but, I knew that I wasn’t feeling my normal self…so, I called.

Turns out, I had all of the symptoms of PTSD and clinical depression.

I spoke to a physician I know and after telling him some stuff, he suggested that I get on some medication to “even out my mood.”

HELL NAW!  That was my reaction.

I just wasn’t ready to concede to being medicated…not yet.

I found a counselor and started talking it out…that helped a lot.

But, what really pulled me out of my abyss…and I know this is going to sound weird to a lot of people but, hey…it happens.

One day, I ended up watching Frasier on television. I had never seen this series before…and I laughed until I could not breathe!  That shit was sooo damned funny. I couldn’t remember the last time that, I had laughed like that.

That laughter, made me feel as if I was alive…not just living and going through the motions…ALIVE.

It made me FEEL something.

My husband I would watch Frasier every time it came on the television and every, single time I laughed so hard, I literally had to hold my stomach.

Needless to say, I purchased all 11 seasons of Frasier and laughed my way back to my “semi-sane” self.

I make sure that I FEEL my life (don’t know if that makes sense to all of you.)

Sometimes, we’re living but we aren’t feeling that life.

That’s what the PSTD does…among other things, it makes you feel numb.

I get that Creighton’s mind went there, even though his house was spared the flood waters.

Everyone was affected by the storm in some form or fashion.

I get that his family couldn’t see the suicide coming.

I get that he fell into the abyss.

I’m just glad that…I got out.

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I Love Treme but…

I’ve just finished watching the third episode of the series, Treme.  I don’t have HBO but, thanks to my brother, The Oracle, I receive a link to watch it…and I look for my link faithfully every Monday.

As much as I love the series, it is proving itself to be a little difficult for me to watch at times.  I’m sure a lot of New Orleanians feel the same way.   A lot of the scenes being played out in front of us, I had only just begun to put away…like walking into my flood damaged home for the very first time.  That was a hard scene to watch for a lot of people I know.

I’m grateful to David Simon and David Mills because, they are telling our story…the one CNN didn’t bring to you.

How those of us who decided to stay or come back right after the storm, survived those days.

They were not easy days but, it was our choice and one that I would do again.

I love my city… I’m IN love with her…faults in all.

So, I’m in this for the long haul even if I have to carry a shrink with me every step of the way.

The last episode brought me to tears.  When Big Chief went to the lower 9 and found his friend under the boat.  It just hit too close to my heart.

When we first arrived home in Oct ’05, the word was already out among the few of us who had returned…brace yourself before you go into the lower 9.  It was a warning done out of love between natives…those of us who REALLY knew the lower 9.

Like Treme, that area of the city is a deep part of black culture and we all knew to expect the worst because of what we had seen on tv.

TV didn’t even hit the tip of the iceberg about what had happened there.

I had gone all through this city, witnessed miles of devastation from Mississippi all the way in to it.  Had walked the halls of my own destroyed home and while my heart was aching beyond belief…had not shed a tear.

The day I rode into the lower nine…I cried.

I have yet to find the word for what I saw so, I don’t even try to anymore because what happened to that area is beyond words.  I’ll just say that,

Treme is giving folks all over the world a small glimpse of a very large picture and for that…we are grateful.

Our culture is ringing true…for the very first time…on this series.

What I really love is that, it takes people deep into the culture.   Beyond  the Mardi Gras madness in the French Quarters, beyond the local cuisine and the wonderful music.

Treme takes you to the streets…where the second lines and the Mardi Gras Indians roam.

Big Chief Lambreaux, played brilliantly by Clarke Peters is the heart beat of the series to me.  It’s the heartbeat because, the Mardi Gras Indians are at  the very core of New Orleans culture.  When you are at the level of even knowing about our beloved Indians, one of two things are going on.  You are a native (or transplant), or… you have a love for this city so deep that, it has taken you off of the tourist road…beyond the food, the parades, the French Quarters and stuff and has put you in the trenches.

Where the Indians reside.

Some cities have a certain “je ne sais quoi”…that IT factor that makes it stand out just a little bit more than other cities.  New York, Chicago, Philly and some others that I didn’t name have IT.

We have IT.

Our culture is rich and it’s deep and it’s unique…we don’t apologize for it.

We won’t apologize for it.

And we won’t change it.

Because, there are a lot of folks like me…who are in love with her…faults and all.