Seeking Solace, Part 1:
Living with Terror
By Teresa Kellerman 9/16/2001

Everyone is in distress this week. The days go by, and it doesn't get any easier to face the reality of what has happened. If anything, reality gets bigger and more difficult to deal with. We don't know what will happen tomorrow, and it is in the not knowing that we face our fear.

It seems that everyone knows someone personally who was directly affected in Tuesday's tragic incidents. Someone was lost or someone was saved. Someone I am close to related that their good friend Zachary works in the WTC but wasn't present. He had been sent to teach a class on "Peaceful Resolutions in Conflict."

For some, the shock of the moment was so great that they fell apart and cannot function. For those I know who have already suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the reaction was either they were taken right back to their own stressful time in their past, or they were not fazed by the present trauma at all. The ones who were not so upset are likely still trying to deal with their PTSD, living in a state of chronic stress. For many parents of kids with FAS disorders, this might be the case. Everyday life is so very stressful, especially for those families dealing with RAD or Bipolar on top of the FAS issues, that this external blow is just one more traumatic event to deal with.

For some parents, they have been living with terror on a daily basis, in fear of what their child might do next, if they will wake up alive the next day, if their child will commit some horrible unthinkable action that they cannot prevent, in spite of begging for help from the social service system and providing as secure a home as possible.

"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." I heard this quote by Thomas Jefferson on Tuesday. It applies to national security and is fitting in light of the national disasters. It also applies to those who struggle to keep their children and families safe from the effects of FAS/FAE and the co-occurring disorders that are too common in our circles of support. Some families have had to become so vigilant of their children that they sleep with one eye open, not really getting a good night's rest. They are constantly looking for new ways to lock up the knives and bolt the doors and windows to prevent a tragedy. They sleep with the keys in their hand or around their neck, with their money and credit cards under their pillow. These families already live with the fear of something terrible happening, a fear based in reality of the nature of FAS and FAE/RAD and Bipolar. What unexpected, unpredictable disaster might occur at any moment? Only a parent with a child having these mental health disorders knows the feeling of being constantly vigilant, 24 hours a day, year after year, fearing for the future.

Trying to de-stress in the face of this tragedy is not an easy task. But it is an important one. Because our kids need stress-free parents now and they need us there later in good health when life becomes even more challenging for them as adults. They also need to feel safe, especially now that our national security seems to be at risk, when we honestly cannot guarantee that "everything is going to be okay." But we can help our kids feel secure in acknowledging that we are here for them, to meet their needs and care for them, no matter what happens, and that when we cannot physically be present that they will be in the care of someone trustworthy.

As we climb out the emotional rubble of this past week's turmoil, we can seek relief in the knowledge that we are alive and relatively safe. And we can seek awareness of the chronic trauma of dealing with FAS issues and the struggles of getting our kids what they need, and the stress that it puts on us daily. Perhaps we can pull together and be ready again to support each other with comfort and kindness in a world that is neither comforting nor kind to our children. We can minimize the terror of FAS by doing our part to make our little world right here at home a better place for our kids to survive and thrive.

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Hey Jude
by Lennon/McCartney
Hey Jude, don't make it bad.
Take a sad song and make it better.
Remember to let her into your heart,
Then you can start to make it better.

Hey Jude, don't be afraid.
You were made to go out and get her.
The minute you let her under your skin,
Then you begin to make it better.

And anytime you feel the pain,
     hey Jude, refrain,
Don't carry the world upon your shoulders.
For well you know that it's a fool
    who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder.
Hey Jude, don't let me down.
You have found her, now go and get her.
Remember to let her into your heart,
Then you can start to make it better.

So let it out and let it in, hey Jude, begin,
You're waiting for someone to perform with.
And don't you know that it's just you, 
hey Jude, you'll do,
The movement you need is on your shoulder.

Hey Jude, don't make it bad.
Take a sad song and make it better.
Remember to let her under your skin,
Then you'll begin to make it
Better better better better better better, oh.

Da da da da da da, da da da, hey Jude... 

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