April 5, 2024

Psychologically safety

London violence witnessed from youth instilled unhealthy hypervigilance. Leaving helped me realise it was trauma restraining freedom. Seek help to release lingering tension.

Psychologically safety
Photo by Samuel Ryde / Unsplash

London gave me PTSD! 

I must preface that I likely suffered PTSD after my father's passing. However, that doesn't diminish the role London played in heightening my anxiety. 

I lived in a council estate for two early childhood years - barely a memory. The following twenty years were in a quiet, residential area, largely populated by doctors, teachers, students, and young families. 

Despite that seemingly safe upbringing, the concrete jungle exposed me to its trenches. 

In primary school, I was friends with the cousin of Damilola Taylor's murderer (unknown then). In year 7, a friend was stabbed and put into witness protection. Entering secondary school marked a period of heightened stabbings. I travelled between two feuding areas, resulting in fatal conflicts between associated gangs. In year 7, I witnessed a group of five year 10s attack a year 11. From year 9 onwards, several classmates were involved in organized crime. My peers carried knives; two friends got stabbed, and another gun-bucked. Most recently, a friend was gruesomely tortured, stabbed, and burned to death.  

This is capital T trauma. I was in a persistent state of anxiety - cautious of every environment, avoiding "dangerous" locations up until year 10. I stopped wearing headphones, ensuring full sensory awareness. My hood was always half-up for full peripheral vision. Every night I'd check the locks multiple times, marching downstairs if unsure.

Having left London in 2022, I realised I had a problem. Why was I so anxious about doors? By sharing my experiences with my wife, it made me realise that my environment wasn't normal. Well-off peers from my area didn't experience similar trauma. Once away from London, I recognised my hypervigilance was unhealthy - London had taken my mental health hostage.  

Visiting Tanzania, I felt a foreign sense of freedom and safety. My aura brightened with the absence of not thinking everyone was a threat. 

If you underwent similar pain, seek help. Prayer assists me; find your outlet - therapy, writing, exercise - to release that tension and feel like your best self.  

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