The problem with anxiety attacks is that they’re always coming at a bad time. They don’t ask you if it’s okay when they come, they don’t knock on your door, they just burst in as an uninvited guest that you have to deal with.
My body started shaking in the car as I was on my way to the railway station. I had just heard the news on the radio. They talked about yesterday’s terror attack, and it made me feel like I was on my way to do important things like I’m really taking part of something bigger.
But my body had steel shaking inside it when I arrived, and after a few moments, it got worse. When I tried to listen to what Ruth was talking about, my heartbeat was getting faster and my breath was becoming less and less effective even though I worked very hard to control it.
I didn’t think that meeting Palestinians for peace-building could be a trigger, I know they are humans just like any other person.
I understand that whats happening is a panic attack and I can’t escape it. I realized at the very beginning that it was happening and I needed external help. So, I took my SOS medicine and hoped it would be alright, but it is entirely not alright. I’m dealing with PTSD and I can’t even tell you about a single event that was the cause of it. It started almost 9 years ago, I was 13 years old in the 2008 Gaza War, I simply can’t remember it clearly enough. I guess that is one of the symptoms of PTSD. All I can remember are the small details. Things like my mom making Moroccan donuts for Hanukkah but we forgot to eat them because of the war or how all the Bar-Mitzvahs of all my friends from the kibbutz were cancelled or the rocket that fell next to my grandma and grandpa’s home when they weren’t there.
For more than 8 years, since I was 5 years old, we said that we can get used to this situation. There will always be a conflict and although rockets have been shot at our home, God is with us, and nobody we know is injured.. I mean, no one that we know of, just steel and stone. Yet it is still considered a shame to talk about mental injuries caused by the war. “We can get used to this” we forced ourselves to say all the time, but it was just a lie that we tell, to ourselves and to everyone. No one can be used to situation of war. Somehow this war gives us hope. We start to believe that there is a different reality that can be reached, that everything can change.
I remember that I tried to go back to school after the cease-fire, and then my life started to deteriorate…
I have a million stories running in my brain at the same time about what happened after. What story should I tell? I have so many stories and so many thoughts that changed during the time.
We didn’t think about the other side and how their life is way harder than ours because it is so much easier to see them as enemies, not as humans. When you know that the other side is made up of real people, just like you, it makes the conflict harder. I decided to take the hard way because I believe that it’s the right way.
In the end, I understand that war can only create losers. The only way to win this war is to stop fighting each other and start fighting together against the war.
This is just one example of the important work produced YaLa’s citizen journalists, a program funded by the European Union’s Peacebuilding Initiative in order to enable young leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa to document and share their experiences of the region.