Monday, 11 March 2019


(This will be the last time I write here about the last 9 months. At all times I tried to preserve the dignity and privacy of everyone concerned. Enough is enough. I wanted to write this piece, for those of you who have felt the same and may not undertand why, and I needed to write it as a form of catharsis.)

A couple of weeks ago I described myself here as “twitching around like a post-traumatic fart in a colander.”

I wish I hadn’t.

Those souls who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) do not deserve to be the butts of cheap one liners.

Especially as right now I’m suffering many of the symptoms of the condition.

I’ve not got the whole megillah, as thankfully I’ve had no nightmares yet, and if you met me out and about, you’d say I’m in blinding form.

Unlike others with PTSD, I’m positively enjoying my public and social life, until something triggers another unexpected nadir, creating a fear-driven compulsion to rush back home and feel safe.

That I do, and then I don’t feel safe.

Between my ears there’s a particular madness going on.

Thankfully I recognise it.

We’ve met before.

I still feel the fear it creates, but I’m able to understand it, which is incredibly helpful.

I was lucky, because the first time I experienced this fear, a supremely qualified friend of mine explained what was wrong with me.

He fought in the Falklands War, and has seen and done things nobody ever should. His life has been ripped apart by PTSD.

Back in 2001 we sat smoking rollies, drinking strong sweet mugs of tea, dunking chocolate biscuits.

“Yeh, well, it’s like I sit at my kitchen table, mate, and I know I’m incredibly perfectly safe, rural west of Ireland, y’know, but I don’t trust it. It feels like someone or something’s going to come along and take it away from me … or take me away.”

“Oh yeh. Post-traumatic to fuck, mate.”

“Nah! I’ve not been in a war or a crash or anything.”

“You’ve just sat there and told me about four years of rage and depression in California. That’d do it.”


“Bloody right.”

“Woh! Okay. Bloody hell.”


I am a patient man.

Thanks to my friend’s tragedy, I know that in time this feeling will diminish and disappear.

That’s what I keep telling myself.

It occurs to me that If I’ve experienced this mental state twice, many of you must be feeling it too.

How could you not, in this world where children die; where tragedy stalks?

Now I feel those same fears again. I’m not suffering as my friend does, yet the fact that my symptoms don’t tick all the PTSD boxes doesn’t make the fear feel less real.

The shock is there. I’ve been in crashes. I know how shock feels: that detachment and cocoonedness.

After a month without TV channels, this news junky turned on Channel 4 News to find Krishnan Guru-Murthy appearing to talk through several layers of bubble wrap.

I’ve had the trauma. Now I’m in shock, and know that in time this feeling will diminish and disappear.

I fear what the mail woman is putting in my box.
More bombardment? No, just a phone bill.

I’m nervous at the thought of a friend coming, although his visit turns out to be a delight.

Two voicemails appear on my phone, from two unknown numbers. In saner times I’d wonder what bright new opportunities these callers might represent.

Now I am gripped by fear.

Not anxiety: I know how that feels, and this is not that.

This is fear; fear of more incoming fire.

Turns out one message was from a phone company, offering fab new deals, and the other was a misdirected fax machine screaming at me from England.

Glad I didn’t take that pill and wipe out an afternoon.

Don’t like medicating myself to get through a day, because I know intellectually and experientially that I’m safe in this house.

This fear is just an irrational and unfounded feeling.
I look at it and wish it would leave me.

More than anything I know that in time this feeling will diminish and disappear.

That is all that matters.

For 8 months I felt I was under bombardment from three directions. The landscape of my life was demolished, my income suffering too, as I was emotionally unable to deliver my Autumn writing course.

Thankfully I’m now excited at the prospect of teaching again, and taking bookings for my Spring Craft of Writing Course (details below), and yes, I know, what chutzpah, writing about being all Looney Toons, at the same time as suggesting you pay to learn from me.


You decide!

Those 8 months were not the time to deal with emotions. Blinkered, getting through, I recognised each as it rose up, and then put it on the back burner with all the others.

At certain points I felt secretly and utterly desperate, but a new way of life had to be created.

I just had to keep going.
You know that one: when you have to keep going.

I know you do.

Two of the three conflicts have yet to be finally resolved, but now I have a new home, where I am safe, even if I don’t feel it.

Here the fear will pass and then I’ll be ready to face those emotions cast aside.

Next week the post woman will bring good news, in the shape of readers signing up for my Craft of Writing Course - did I mention that details were below?

If you are feeling unfounded fear, please tell a trusted friend, a doctor or a counsellor.

It helps so much to understand why you’re suffering, and know that in time these feelings will diminish and hopefully disappear.

©Charlie Adley


Charlie Adley’s Craft of Writing Course
Westside Resource Centre, 
8 weeks, April 4th - May 23rd, 
every Thursday, 7:15-9:00.

€120/110. Deposit or pre-payment essential. 

To reserve your place
call: 085 729 4204, 


Unknown said...

hah? dont go all comercial charlie,whatever you do.

Charlie Adley said...

Just trying to make an honest living, Michael.