TRAUMA STALKS THE ISLAND OF JAMAICA – Marlene Daley

TRAUMA STALKS THE ISLAND OF JAMAICA – Marlene Daley

Long after the conundrum of murder, mayhem, and the seemingly drawn out psychological expanse of time to the “Nine Night,” (the cultural culmination of mourning of close knit family and friends), the heart remains painfully expanded and heavily laden, beating without volition in the breast of those who in the moment, might have offered their life as a sacrifice for those so deeply loved.

It leaves a void too deep and personal to be truly felt by anyone else but those so riveted in such moments in time. It is never as simple as emotions emanating from even those who know loss, since degrees and threshold vary and time begins to heal, albeit slowly.

With peripheral vision blurred and focus becoming transfixed in singularity of grief and suffering, the processing of effects and repercussions on the wider community is often overlooked. As a result and in direct proportion to Jamaica’s long standing crime wave, many of her citizens, including children, are merely existing through the severe burden of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety and with remedial psychological care slow in coming or in some instances, not accessible at all, it renders a lack of motivation and the drive to achieve anything in life. Of course the wider society suffers in work attendance and productivity but this pales in contrast to the personal suffering that ensues. Coupled with this is the fact that there is a systemically lack of positive uplifting ambitious figures to emulate, which adds to a prevailing crisis of such unhealthy proportions that it may take generations to heal.

There is prevailing evidence which proves that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders have stronger associations with anxiety and affective disorders than with substance abuse or dependence. Some of the symptoms are nightmares, uncontrollable thoughts, difficulty sleeping, feeling detached and lacking trust in others. These symptoms can be so severe that they last long enough to significantly worsen the person’s quality of life and ability to function.

It is not by sheer coincidence that during the process of writing, my attention was drawn to Nadine Wilson-Harris’ story in today’s Jamaica Gleaner 10/21/18 captioned, “SHOCKED INTO SILENCE – SOME CHILDREN STOP TALKING, STOP PLAYING, AFTER SEVERE TRAUMA,” where she states poignantly:

“Traumatized by the murder of close relatives or friends, and scarred from excessive abuse, some of the nation’s children have gone mute.

Unfortunately, with only five speech pathologists in the island, there are not many persons qualified to get them talking again. Of those certified in the area, about four are in private practice.

Elective mutes are among the children being referred to the Mico CARE Centre for help. Vice-president for child development, diagnostic and therapeutic services at the facility, Angelita Arnold, says the center’s clinicians are being kept very busy because of the emotional turmoil the country’s children have to endure on a regular basis…”

It is heart rending to say the least that such vicious criminal elements often rub shoulders with us in the streets while creating havoc, even in broad daylight and public places, which could render citizens helpless and immobilized through such fear.