A Polish EU Citizen’s Story

“First of all, be as safe as possible – literally – in your everyday life. Make your home a peaceful and secure place in every way, beginning with it being in a neighbourhood that feels safe…” Those are recommendations for anyone who is trying to recover from psychological traumas. A peaceful place to live is an absolute must for anyone with trauma-related conditions, such as PTSD. People fleeing from warzones come to mind; but it also applies to those who may have not lived through war, but try to recover from other violent conditions they have suffered “back home”, recently or decades ago.

I’ve lived in a few European countries, but up until now I’ve never had a real opportunity to work through my personal traumas. Maybe I wasn’t desperate enough to face the task. I think it changed when I was diagnosed, two years ago, with a chronic, progressively disabling physical condition which requires me to settle down. It was personally devastating to learn that no one could tell me how functional I would be in one years’ time. Finding a safe place to live and giving up my independence for the necessary treatment came as a shock. This shock revived old, unresolved and upsetting psychological issues, which make meaningful life impossible, and will require me to do a lot of work on myself if I want to carry on.

I cannot just start my life again somewhere else, like I did several times before. Not now, when I’m falling apart on all fronts. I left what they call my ‘home country’ many years ago, and never wanted to go back. You don’t just ‘go back’, if everything you ever wanted since you were a child was to escape: first from your home, which was abusive, oppressive, and limiting, and then also from your ‘home country’, when you compared its culture with what you found in other places, and figured out it was just as oppressive and limiting.

I thought I would have a chance to come to peace with myself here, but Brexit is, of course, not helpful. It makes you feel like all the odds are against you. It certainly has contributed a great deal to my emotional instability in the recent months. My PTSD got completely out of hand on a few occasions. I am taking responsibility for my own life, difficult as it is, but my basic need at the moment is stability and safety. I’m thinking about asking my psychotherapist about Brexit and its implications for my personal well-being, and I very much hope she is, well, not a Brexiter herself.

Maybe she will have tips on how to cope. I’ll let you know, I may not be the only one who needs them.

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