My hands are frozen, my legs feel like heavy lead. My head is pounding, every cell in my body screaming for oxygen. I’m going to die. I don’t want to die. I scream for help. But nobody is looking for me. The only one looking at me is him. Unseeing, unblinking, his eyes grotesque and bulging. “Help me,” he pleads.
Insomnia haunts my nights; fatigue rules my days.
I reach for my PTSD pills. I don’t want the chemicals, but I can’t survive the dreams.
Because sometimes the dream changes; sometimes the unseeing eyes are mine.
Trauma effects not only the survivors but the rescuers too.
In 2011, the World Aquatic Health Conference recognised PTSD as a legitimate concern amongst life guards, particularly because the profession regularly employs teenagers and requires making split second decisions that have life and death consequences.