Haiti haunted our house, my Father’s days and nights seemed to revolve around the political chaos that was Haiti. For 3 years in Ottawa, I picked up the phone, overheard things I wasn’t supposed to, watched my Father leave and go back to the office at all hours of the night. When we finally left for our posting to Venezuela, Haiti seemed to fade into the back, and my Father focused on running the embassy in Caracas.
It wouldn’t be until I moved to boarding school that Haiti would haunt our house again. Every time I went home on a break, Haiti occupied most of my Father’s brain space, Haiti crept into our conversations, my Father looked more stressed and exhausted. I would go back to school facing insomnia, and nightmares.
It was one fateful day, I got a phone call from Foreign Affairs. Some poor young fellow asked for me, and I quickly replied “speaking”. He informed me my Father had been shot at while in Haiti, but was o.k. I quickly lost my lunch.
My Father’s shooting began to fill my head.
I quickly began to spiral, but in the life of Diplomatic kids, we kept our mouths shut and never mentioned what was really going on. I stopped eating and began over exercising, it was the only thing I could focus on, and control.
What I know now, was that I was suffering from PTSD. What my school and the school doctor thought, was I was clinically depressed because I had broken up with my boyfriend. Insert eye roll, I actually didn’t even bother thinking about my breakup, it stung at first, but it didn’t occupy much of my brain space or my emotions.
I was handed anti-depressants. I didn’t know any better, so I took them.
My head felt like jello. My body and my head felt disconnected. I didn’t feel like me.
After 4 months, I went off the antidepressants, but my head didn’t feel normal, and my emotions were all over the place.
It would take me years to realize that I never suffered from depression just the on and off comings and goings of PTSD. Too many traumas over the years, and nothing to relieve it. The more I researched, the more I discovered that medication didn’t help PTSD at all, because in reality, there was no chemical imbalance or lack of chemicals being produced in the brain.
It wasn’t until I started meditating that I discovered that I could reprogram my brain, heal myself from my own traumas, that my PTSD could be kept at bay and managed with the practice of something so simple, yet magical.
I am in no way saying meditation is a cure for it, and you can’t replace medication for those who suffer from depression and other mental illnesses. But it is a fantastic tool that everyone should use, even if you aren’t a mobile family. For me, it has changed my inner voice, the way I have been handling my own PTSD. I now sleep regularly, I don’t and haven’t taken medication since high school.
What I find now as an adult, and knowing more about Diplomatic kids (or mobile kids), is that the trauma we suffer and the signs of trauma are actually sometimes the same signs of depression, but the first thing we seem to be told, is that we are depressed and handed medication. Some kids are depressed, there is no doubt in that, but for Diplomatic kids, we grow up in a world of secrecy. Our parents keep secrets, and we learn quickly, that we have to keep secrets too. Holding onto those secrets actually cause us more stress. There was no one for me to talk to, and in Foreign Affairs, there is still no one for kids to talk to.
With the creation of new meditation apps, it can be one of the best investments and easily accessible tools for your child, whether in the Diplomatic Community, or just being a mobile family.