Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Natalie Thomas

Calm

I entered Dr Stuart’s therapy room, I knew I had to revisit some of the more adventurous and fearful areas of my life experiences if I was going to deal with my daily anxiety . . .
“Hello Kalindi, how have you been?”
“OK . . . ” I said, “not too anxious.”
“Not too anxious . . .” he reflected!
I had a purpose today – I explained I wanted to talk about some of my early fearful experiences.
I’d been thinking about Thailand in 1990 with my boyfriend John.
I remember constantly walking up a steep mountain in the dense jungle. Our guide Sonny was in front, a little hill tribe boy that walked barefoot. At the time I’d never felt so exhausted, I just wanted to stop.
People started to fall ill; it had been two days walking solidly. John had started vomiting along with some of the others, and the weather was changing for the worse. We sheltered that night in a small hut that was up on stilts. A hurricane had hit and the rain and wind had been torrential.
We started out at dawn as Sonny had decided we would take the bamboo rafts down the river a day early to get us quickly to the village at the edge of the jungle.
The river was flowing fast, with so much debris from the night before. I stepped onto the raft and it sank down into the river with my weight. John was at the front to guide us round the bending river with a long piece of bamboo.
There was a fallen tree halfway across the river on the left side. John and I were travelling close to the right side bank; there were three Japanese students heading straight for the trunk; there was no escape for them and as they were travelling so fast I couldn’t do anything.
They fell in and went under the murky water and as we went past the end of the tree, I watched in what seemed like slow motion. One came up, I saw one head, then another, but the third boy, where was he? It had been too long, what was happening? But then it was our turn – as we went round the corner I fell in, I had a hold of the back of the raft but my legs were out in front of me.
They were pulling me underneath the raft, I was fighting the current as it was so strong and if I let go I’d go straight under, that was for sure. As we turned another bend I managed to pull myself back on to the raft to stand up again, and could see I had something on my leg – it had caught hold of me in the water in its own attempt to save itself, it was a snake! It had coiled around my ankle and lower leg.
I started to panic and shout ‘snake!’ but John was busy in front controlling the raft. I lifted my leg up and shouted and pointed. ‘There’s a snake on my leg’. Sonny heard me, leant over from his raft and pulled the snake off.
At this point I sat back in my chair in Dr Stuart’s office and breathlessly paused.
“You have certainly experienced the true feelings of fight or flight.”
“Yes, I have,” I replied.
“And you now know when it is appropriate to have these feelings; you can define a true experience of fight or flight and one that is provoked by your memories and thoughts.”
“Yes I do.”
“How do you feel now?”
“Calm!”

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