Survivors of Industrial *Schools* vs. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

I know that most survivors of industrial *schools* whom I’ve personally encountered have been diagnosed with the severest form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is a natural emotional reaction to a deeply shocking and disturbing experience. It is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. One can multiply that over their whole childhoods.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is defined in DSM-IV, the fourth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

Since my arrival on the Internet scene in 2004 I’ve never claimed to be like most mainstream people who grew up in normal environments. I’ve always been upfront about my institutional background and pointed out the down-side of being one such survivor. It has endeared me to some people who’ve been very empathetic about my sad history. However, my openness and different kind of behavior patterns have also seen many professional people – whom I never would have dreamt in the first place – scarper before even attempting to communicate with me. I sincerely thought that they would have been beyond that kind of behavior given their credentials. Not so, apparently! Credentials before nature ruled I guess? You see, even when I’m on best *normal* behaviour the antennae are raised because I appear to have written all over – BE AWARE! It’s the price survivors pay in life because of not having received proper education and the emotional wherewithal to survive. Education is power. Emotional strength is power. They’re a passport and visa respectively to success in life. When you have these gifts you are automatically accepted by all sorts of people.

Survivors of industrial *schools* with PTSD are too deep and troublesome for those who grew up in loving environments.

Although I’m speaking about me here, I’m representative of most survivors who can’t put into words the anxiety and pain they feel because of suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (not to mention lack of writing skills with which to express same). It is such a crippling disorder to have (and it’s only one of many that survivors of industrial *schools* have to contend with on a daily basis). It takes the quality and normativeness out of one’s life.

Survivors thus continually feel EXTREMELY isolated and alone in the world, because of the unwanted, inherited, dreaded institutional legacy that has followed them throughout their lives.

To give but one typical example:

I boarded a bus yesterday, along with a very drunken person in the queue. He had a rucksack full of drink that rattled as he wended his way down the aisle. He stood in the part of the bus where the prams are normally placed. He was in full view of a captive fully-seated passenger audience. He had a bluetooth microphone in his ear and was talking very loudly to somebody on the other end of the phone, whilst simultaneously taking a beer bottle from his rucksack. “I never had a birthday card in all my life in the institution” he hollered. “I was left at the gates of Goldenbridge as a young boy, and remained in institutional care for eighteen years”, he went on to say in a drivelling drunken voice. Everyone, I’m sure, was overhearing the conversation, as he intermittently swilled on the fresh green glass bottle of beer to the blindness of the bus-driver, who didn’t object to his stultifying inebriated demeanour. He started muttering on about the cruelty of Sr. X the infamous nun from Goldenbridge. I was in full sympathy. I recognised his face. However, it wasn’t until he’d mentioned Aislinn Centre that I realised from whence I’d seen him before. I wanted to talk to him, but decided that it wasn’t the right time or place, as I felt it best not to draw attention to his plight. I came to the conclusion that it would only further an already exacerbating situation, especially because of his tipsiness. Besides, he was on the phone. When he got off the bus at the Central bank, the people behind me started to comment about the beer that had rattled in his rucksack. ‘There’s more where that came from, to be sure’, whispered one of them, as they both sympathetically sighed, though, thankfully, not in a condescending way, ’twas more in sympathy of the unfortunate survivor. I too was perplexed by the man. He triggered so much of how survivors in general feel about life. He had such a forlorn look about him and his eyes appeared so sad and vacant. He had that look of a person who grew up in an industrial *school*. A look that I’ve talked about before that survivors recognise in each other without even knowing them personally. Some survivors sadly express their pain through alcohol. That is inevitable given their history of neglect and lack of love in the most essential years of their lives; as well as systemic abuse suffered on a daily basis in their respective institutions. I couldn’t help but think that the swanky blue-tooth and posh phone and the rucksack full of expensive bottled drink was probably affordable because of redress money – and that the latter was only to the detriment of his health. Many survivors have drank themselves to death after getting their awards. The primal screams of survivors must be aired even on a Dublin bus on a stormy end of April afternoon. There for the grace of Betsy go all survivors of industrial *schools*. Post traumatic stress disorder expresses itself in many forms.


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