After I returned from the WTO protests in Seattle, I couldn’t sleep or concentrate for weeks. In Seattle I had seen a lot of “action”: I’d been pepper sprayed, arrested and then “unarrested”, run over by a horse, tear gassed, charged by cops, illegally detained and searched, lost my housing unexpectedly, shot at. But when I got back, I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I heard explosions of concussion grenades in my sleep. Loud noises made me jump. I was tense and irritable. I just couldn’t seem to get things back to normal. Finally, my therapist mentioned I might have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I had heard of it, but I thought it only happened to vets who had fought in Vietnam. It happened to “someone else.” But in fact, it can happen to anyone who goes through a stressful experience.
And increasingly, battling capitalism is getting to be a more stressful experience. The state is scared and they are turning to more repression to maintain their grasp on control. The FBI recently listed anarchists as a major “threat of Terrorism” in the United States. Infiltration, harassment and intimidation are on the rise. Tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets at protests, once rare, are now common. Resistance is getting more effective and expanding.
Slingshot has in the past published tips on surviving at the demonstration. This issue, here’s some info on what happens after the demonstration. As a community we need to take care of each other and our selves – both physically and mentally – so people can stay in the struggle and avoid burnout. For more excellent information, check out the website “healingtrauma.protest.net.”