Who from MeFi contacted me right after Katrina? August 28, 2015 4:15 PM   Subscribe

I live in the north shore, about an hour away from NOLA. Soon after the storm had passed through my city, I was contacted by a guy and gal from here. You were some of the very first people I spoke with aside from my wife and next door neighbors.

I'm upstairs in my house "working" right now, as I really don't want to make my wife break down crying again because of me doing the same. Been doing this crying thing a lot.

My city wasn't subject to the flooding or the human tragedy that my neighbors in NOLA experienced. During the storm, my house sounded like a train passing another train... we had some damage, but aside from not having power for a while, some downed Oak trees, and losing parts of the back porch we were good.

A lot of what happened 10 years ago slips me and gets a bit colluded in my head. My wife and I did whatever we could do to help our neighbors (immediate and farther away), and I've been really down because of the anniversary of the storm and a lot of things that happened after... a lot of human events that have happened in my family and in the news recently have been getting to me with a level of intensity that I'm having trouble controlling. I don't wish to imply anything that sounds like I'm at any risk, I'm not. I'm just stuck in a bad patch and I'm having trouble communicating right now without breaking down.

I had a Razor flip phone, and I'm not sure if it was a phone call or a text message, or maybe an email... Christ, I just know that a man and woman from here on MeFi wound up being able to get through to me somehow. I'm pretty sure it was a phone call, which was crazy because the only way to even have a call in my city at that moment was by driving to a certain part of town that was letting us text pretty consistently, and we happened to be there just at the moment you contacted me.

I'm sorry if this all sounds weird, but I never forgot that you came through. We didn't need anything, we really just were demolished from all of the death we were hearing about on our car and emergency radio.

My wife and I appreciate you for getting ahold of us. It was very sweet of you and I'm sorry I didn't think to follow up sooner. A lot of feelings are just hitting us like bricks right now, and it's tough typing through them right now.

Whoever the two of you are, I just want to say that it meant something. We needed that call you made. I love you for your kindness and thoughtfulness. It would be a pleasure to speak with you again one day, maybe after this month is over. Thank you so much.
posted by grimcity to MetaFilter-Related at 4:15 PM (30 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

Hope the feelings pass in a hurry, and a serious high five to the Mefites that got in touch.

Such good friggin' people here, dammit.
posted by Mooski at 5:00 PM on August 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Cheers and agreed, Mooski.

I am also now fully confident that it was a phone call... I'm not sure how that was achieved, either because of the phone situation at the time or how my cell number could have been found back then.
posted by grimcity at 5:30 PM on August 28, 2015

Bear hugs. Can't even imagine.
posted by wallabear at 6:24 PM on August 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sending you and your wife teary hugs, grimcity. Glad you got through it then and I hope your people turn up here now.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:27 PM on August 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

My thoughts are with you and yours.
posted by misozaki at 4:31 AM on August 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

My thoughts are with you.

I've had a hard time with the news and everything too.

Take gentle care.
posted by AlexiaSky at 9:06 AM on August 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, grimcity. I'm so sorry. I hope we all collectively manage to figure out who called you.

From reading your post, statements like this a lot of human events that have happened in my family and in the news recently have been getting to me with a level of intensity that I'm having trouble controlling and this: A lot of feelings are just hitting us like bricks right now make me think that this sounds an awful, awful lot like my own experience of PTSD. It might be worth contacting a mental health professional who could help sort out whether or not that's the case, because if it *is* PTSD-related, there is a LOT that can be done to help you get out from under that tide of super-intense bricks.

Please don't interpret this as in any way taking away from the magnitude of what you're feeling or what you're experiencing, or the power of the connection you feel to those people who reached out to you at such a bleak time. Those are powerful experiences and they will have powerful effects in your life, probably forever. But seriously, I can't overstate how much better my life got after I got some help to manage the feelings and memories that clogged my nose and mouth and eyes and ears like dirt after a mudslide, so that I could at least see and hear and breathe again.

I'm so glad you're safe. I'm so glad you're here -- here on the planet, and here on Metafilter.
posted by KathrynT at 10:20 AM on August 29, 2015 [23 favorites]

(( Jedi hugs )) Is there any way we can help you and your wife take care of yourselves? It sounds like you're deep in grief and that can be overwhelming.

(re: Kathryn above, 211 is a national number for help with mental health and an easy way to discover what's available locally if that's the direction you end up choosing to go.)
posted by Deoridhe at 1:02 PM on August 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

Thank you for the number and for the offer of help and the hugs. I don't wish to be that emo guy attempting to burden you guys with things. There have been some things that have been stacking on top of us and I don't think there's a way to share them without coming across as melodramatic or somebody sharing a laundry list when I know there are a bunch of folks here that have issues that I can't comprehend. Some of the things can't be helped.

I didn't mean to burden anyone, been associating with people online more than in real life lately. OK skipping a lot, but this has been a bad month. I will say that I went to my local skatepark today for the first time in months, which my wife insisted on and I believe I needed to do.

I'm not crying and typing as I write this time, but I had to come back a few times before I could as the incredibly nice words from all of you profoundly affect me.

I'm at a point right now where I can maybe explain a couple of things about how things are in my head... (just deleted a bunch of backstory for the very reasons I mentioned, this is hard).

(deleted fucking more)

I don't mean to create a cloud of attention around my problems. I really just want the Mefites that got ahold of us to know that I love them.

I'm a bit more in the hole now. I am not the type of person to mention crying on the web.

I think about Katrina constantly, always have, and moreso now I think because of the anniversary. Having said, I've become overwhelmed by death. The stories of people being killed by police, as well as stories of police getting killed now hits me way past the point of being able to discuss particulars... I mean to say that my reaction is the same as if the people that have been killed are folks that live right here in my home. There's more that has been making me get messed up... fatal car crashes are fucking me up. Just fatalities in general. The storm is steadily on my mind, a ton of personal losses unrelated to the storm, kids being shot, the news reporters getting shot (I accidentally saw it happen as I get a lot of news and banter on Twitter).

I'm not good enough of a writer to explain any of the mess my head is in. My wife knows, and I think my parents know. I do know that I have a grasp on reality, as a few years ago I was in therapy after my oldest brother passed away and that came up a lot. I will try to do therapy again, but I again need to relay that I am not at risk... if I were to do something like that my wife would undoubtedly do the same, and my parents would have lost three boys. I couldn't if I wanted to as I gave my old hunting rifle away because I can't look at guns anymore.

I won't go into it, but I will say that my wife and I are truly partners. I'm 40, been with her since I was 19 back in college. We're handling on a lot of external issues together, and I'm afraid that I'm an issue she's handling up on. Having some trouble taking care of finances due to some situations that again would sound melodramatic and made up.

Fuck guys, I am sorry for this post. I don't talk about my shit in real life. I didn't intend to make this about me needing anything, I know cats right here in my neighborhood with more shit to handle up on. Gonna leave this post as is, having some problems with writing now. Really do want to just send love to the people I mentioned. In a bad patch at the moment. I don't know how to convey anything properly right now.
posted by grimcity at 5:32 PM on August 29, 2015 [15 favorites]

grimcity, I'm glad you're here, and I'm glad that a Mefite reached out to you ten years ago. I think with the anniversary, and as you point out with all the terrible stuff in the news, it's extra important to be kind to yourself and look for the good things, and so I'm glad you're here thinking about the good person who helped you out back then. I'm sure you've done similar things for other people too, maybe without even realizing it. When I look back at those Katrina threads, I see people pulling together and it's a really hopeful powerful thing.

Two years ago (in fact exactly), I had some family stuff going on that was the worst time of my life. It felt like the end of the world. But also I received some of the kindest support I ever have during that time, even just little things people at the hospital did that were just like moments of grace in the middle of horribleness - and those people are always in the back of my mind when I'm feeling low. It's amazing how powerful and long-lived a kind gesture can be.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:54 PM on August 29, 2015 [14 favorites]

It's amazing how powerful and long-lived a kind gesture can be.

So true. I remember when I was going through a breakup, and someone let me house sit for a week when they were gone. That kindness came at the perfect time to be worth ... so much, I can't even explain. I'm sure many of us, hearing a medium-close friend was breaking up with a live-in BF, would say "oh, I'll be gone next week; would you like to crash here?" -- it's very kind but not like the kindest thing ever done, but for many years, it lived as such in my mind. It sounds like same with this phone call, that it came at the perfect time to be worth an incredible amount.

grimcity, I'm sorry to hear about how much you're dealing with -- it sounds like quite a bit. Things can really pile up sometimes. That your first instinct is to find someone to thank them for a kindness suggests to me that you have a lot of love inside you, and I hope that this love comes back to you from many people right now when you could use support. Life doesn't always work that way -- some trials we end up going through alone -- but it sounds like you and your wife are a solid team, so hopefully you'll be surrounded by your own self-love and love from her right now while your feelings are so overwhelming. Hang in there.
posted by salvia at 8:05 PM on August 29, 2015 [5 favorites]

Fuck guys, I am sorry for this post.

Please don't be sorry. Please take care of yourself and your wife. You're carrying a lot right now, and the world is a sad and dark place sometimes; let us try to comfort you. In comforting you, we can also comfort ourselves, and it is often a kindness to accept compassion and care.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:26 AM on August 30, 2015 [9 favorites]

And in the spirit of better self-care for all of us! A few of my favorite links:

Calming Manatee

Maru's Channel

Cole & Marmelade's channel

The Empathic Screaming Match

Sign Language (spoken word)
posted by Deoridhe at 2:42 AM on August 30, 2015 [7 favorites]

I think a really good sign that someone could use some help is when they say "I don't want to be a burden". I know you're being sincere about it but I also know you're probably not thinking clearly about it & you could use some help in spite of yourself. Take care, OK?
posted by scalefree at 7:17 AM on August 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

I know cats right here in my neighborhood with more shit to handle up on.

Everyone's hardest struggle is their hardest struggle and yours seems pretty hard for you right now. Hug your wife, go back to the skatepark, we're here if you need us.

I've had a lot of MeFites drop in with random helpfulnesses that probably seemed small to them at the time but have loomed large in that "Somebody cared enough to do something" way, particularly after my father died. I'm glad people were able to be there for you. Know that we still are.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:01 AM on August 30, 2015 [10 favorites]

I'm really sorry you are having a rough time, grimcity. I wish I could offer something besides internet hugs. Hope someone is able to help find the mefites who called you.
posted by bunderful at 9:06 AM on August 30, 2015

grimcity, I hear that you don't want to burden us with your issues. And I also hear, in your words, that you are upset with yourself for not being able to deal with these things more efficiently, that you feel disappointed or even ashamed that you can't manage these problems -- and that your disappointment and your shame is standing as a barrier that is stopping you from reaching out to someone.

For some personal reasons that aren't relevant here, it would mean a lot to me, personally, as a mefite and a human being, if you would reach out to someone. Here, to a friend, to a counselor, to a clergy member. To me, if you don't want to burden anyone else. I'm completely serious; I am not just willing but probably bordering on eager to hear what is troubling you.

Just . . . just don't let this pile up on top of you until it crushes you.
posted by KathrynT at 12:55 PM on August 30, 2015 [15 favorites]

Grimcity, I'm thinking about you tonight and I hope you get some rest and feel better in the morning. Please check in tomorrow and as often as you want to. (( hug ))
posted by dawkins_7 at 9:07 PM on August 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Dude, grimcity, you aren't burdening anyone. Anyone responding is doing so because they have the capacity right now. Hopefully, some day soon, you'll be the guy responding, but we all need others. If you want to reach out, there will be people here. I am thinking about you and your wife tonight.
posted by Sophie1 at 9:39 PM on August 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

Hey grimcity, I hate it when MetaFilter tries to diagnose someone over the Internet, but - based on incredible similarities between what you are saying here and what I was thinking and feeling a couple three years ago - I feel like it would be a really good idea for you to get some professional mental health assistance. I know with financial issues that can seem impossible (I had/have those too), but there are options out there. Maybe ask your wife to help you find somewhere to go and set up an appointment? If she is like my wife she will probably shed tears of joy, as I bet she has known for some time that you could use someone to talk to. It's hard, because as I have mentioned before, depression is the "yeah, but" disease and it actively fights all your efforts to heal it, and sometimes you need the experts to help you beat it. Good luck, and take care of yourself.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:57 AM on August 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, grimcity, I feel for what you are going through! I am far away and Katrina did not personally touch me but it still kicks up quite a bit in me to remember this; for you and many others who lived it, this anniversary and rehashing must be hell.

Most people go through sort of a temporary shock/depression/grief when disaster, tragedy or violence occurs ... and within an order of time that can vary, most begin to heal and move on. Neither science nor psychology can point to why, but some percentage of people (about 10%, give or take) get stuck on this terrible track, are not able to move on and can't seem to free themselves from the replaying and the compounding of terrible events. What you describe sounds pretty much like a textbook description of post-traumatic stress or PTSD -- and it can be almost impossible to free yourself from this heavy burden without some outside help. It can be really hard for people who suffer from PTSD in a situation like yours that affected a huge number of people. Because it can seem like most people are dealing with it and moving on, it can feel terribly lonely or wrong to still be mired in depression ... you are apologetic in your statements and in expressing that you didn't have it as badly as many others ... but being a witness can be every bit as traumatizing and engender ongoing survivor guilt and helpless feelings. You certainly aren't alone in how you are experiencing this, but it probably feels that way. Here's an article about people going through Katrina related PTSD with numbers to local help resources.

I so much hope that you can find some relief. Help is available from professionals and sometimes peer groups can work to ease PTSD. I urge you to look for either a professional or a support group to explore Katrina-related PTSD, but there are online and self-help resources to explore, too - I'll link a few below. I'm interested in PTSD both from a work point of view but also personally - I have a niece that was a nurse in one of the medical tents at the Boston Marathon so I well know many are still trying to come to grips with this.

Medline PTSD

PTSD Basics

PTSD Treatment

PTSD Self-Help Resources

My best to you!
posted by madamjujujive at 8:36 AM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

PS: You are not that emo guy and you are not burdening anyone. Hugs to you and your wife.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:43 AM on August 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

You're not a burden, you're our brother.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 3:23 PM on August 31, 2015 [10 favorites]

I truly, sincerely, appreciate you, fam.

Going to say some things that are part of my situation, but not everything. Trying to write in a very dry way because it's easy to get into a hole. I've all but evaporated from most of my friends... no beefs or anything, I just sometimes disappear. I'm not ready to reconnect with anyone, maybe with the exception of the kids at my neighborhood skatepark (I'm a 40 year old guy that has had the fortune of receiving loads of skate gear that I'm able to give to my local kids, they don't ask about things that I have difficulty answering, and I'm able to engage in skating with them in a carefree way that takes my mind off of things). My handle is googleable as it relates to Louisiana and skateboarding... I say that because these days older guys hanging with kids sounds creepy thanks to pervs. Outside of my currently non existent career I've spent my life skating, and as I got older I just found myself as one of the big brothers to a lot of children. That's why I say when I hear of kids being shot in the news, I have a lot of problems because the ones being killed might as well be the ones I try to take care of through skating. They're the same in my head, and I mean that only somewhat figuratively.

Due to medical issues that my wife is having (she is getting treatment), I don't know how to negotiate therapy right now. Money is a very huge issue as well. About a year ago yesterday I'd been released from a job I was at for 13 years (it was a grant based job and Louisiana wasn't awarded during the last grant cycle, an inherent risk when you're not a classified employee). Our department was let go in two phases within two weeks.

I never applied for unemployment insurance, I was having trouble getting out of the house at all. Dropped everything outside of my home. We lost insurance and were unable to pay the mortgage for a few months. Almost lost the house, up to the point where mortgage people had sent inspectors to value the house. Yard was a mess.

Somehow found a job at a security company after that... saved the place. Redesigned their online stuff, implemented a marketing system to create leads for the sales guys, uncovered felony-level theft that was perpetrated by a guy that I replaced (he just got arrested), and through an audit I conducted I found almost $500 a month that the place was blowing for no reason. I was there for six months and let a friendly coworker know that I was going to ask about a sight raise. The next day, that same coworker notified me that the owners were releasing me from employment. They still call me for technical support relating to their website.

Stepping back to my grant employment...
At that time I was in therapy, as I was just getting lost in my head after my oldest brother passed away from cancer. When he passed, his ex wife (who had remarried, no kids or anything like that) sued me and his girlfriend over his will and insurance money. She was unsuccessful, but had managed to stretch everything out for over two years.

During that time, all of the funds for his funeral were locked in the court registry. The funeral home sued me, and even now as the succession is being processed, I won't be able to afford the late fees they want (my brother's funeral cost somewhere around 10 or 13k, the total now is closer to 20). Then there are legal fees for the funeral home lawyers and the lawyer doing my brother's paperwork. I can't afford any of it. My brother was a therapeutic guard at a mental facility. I don't yet know how much money I will owe after the paperwork is done, but right now a thousand dollars might at well be a million. I never wanted any fucking money in the first place, I just want my brother. After years of him being in an unmarked dirt pit we finally got a gravestone for him installed last week (again, the delay was caused by the court registry).

This is the second time I've lost a brother. I was a kid when my middle-oldest brother was killed in a hit and run. My brother and I became fucking intertwined... he helped raise me, and even as I got older we could have entire conversations without saying a whole lot. We never had a fight, and had actually discussed what we would do if we lost mom and dad (our parents are in their 80s and 90s). We discussed what we would do, and basically it came down to us both wanting photos... he would take the albums, and I would made digital copies for myself since he's more of an analog guy and image processing is part of what I do. To think someone would disrespect him with a lawsuit when he would have never been a part of any such thing makes me so fucking angry.

Jumping around in time here...
After Katrina my wife and I both did whatever we could around the state. She was an RN, and I do communications stuff. I was able to do some comms stuff and also work with the Red Cross and some other things. Never enough to do. A few times I was able to be with my wife on site in Port Sulphur at a Blackwater site where she provided medical care for relief workers, but nothing was enough.

Right after the storm her mom had to have Hospice care, and she passed (unrelated to the storm in any way). A few months later her dad passed. She fell into a depression that made her a lot like me. Unable to work, and then medical issues began to arise. I knew my inlaws since I was a teenager and they loved me and I loved them back so fucking much. We were all very close... they lived separately but I often traveled by where they lived to hang out with them.

A lot of people I know, including family, have been killed from getting shot as well by suicide. I've had guns drawn on my twice in my life, and so I know what that fear is like. Once a drunk, angry friend of mine put a sawed off to my face and I was lucky enough to move the barrel and take it before anything happened. Another time up in Shreveport, my best friend, a nephew and myself apparently got confused with some gang affiliates when two carloads of dudes pulled in front of us as we were walking to a Waffle House for a late night dinner... a whole squad of a real crew stepped out, took aim, and possibly fired on us but I can't be sure since we were already running in traffic by that point.

We made it, but about a year after that the same nephew accidentally shot himself, or was accidentally shot by a friend of his and passed on.

Yesterday I was able to get an old prescription refilled for my anxiety and depression... that in and of itself is a very long story, and there are a lot more stories I'm not getting into. What I've written is almost as confused as my head right now. Katrina is beating me over the head, I see shit in my head that I don't want to see, like my brother being trapped in a coffin. I know he's dead, but I have nightmares when I'm awake about shit like this and worse.

I've always been a humorous person, which is something I still put out on social media. I grew up fighting assholes verbally and physically, from gradeschool to working in divebars, to stepping up to dudes attempting to fuck with people that didn't want or deserve to be fucked with. I can barely step out of my house now.

I've sent nine cover letters and resumes out last week. Five before that. Five before that week. Three before that week. With some of my brothers money and the HARP program I was able to keep our house, but next month I don't know what's going to happen.

Fuck, this is all over the place. A ton of shit rattling in my head. I swear it's like a washing machine just spinning around with stuff.

The meds allowed me to write this mess. I know its rambling and incoherent... there's no way for me to express the thoughts and going ons in a solid way. Just so there are no worries, I don't do drugs or drink alcohol (never had a problem with either, I just don't like any of them besides weed, and I can't toke since I'm trying to find a job).

Katrina, death, guns, death, family, death, death, death, death, debt, death, can't do shit.

I've been staying on the comments, hard to respond to everything. The PTSD links sat a lot of things I believe I can relate to, though I know diagnosis comes from professionals and all.

Calming manatee is sweet and fucks me up so bad.

Fuck. I'm so unlike the tone of this post. Thank you. Won't be going into things like this on my next one, I get lost.
posted by grimcity at 9:16 AM on September 1, 2015

I'm so very sorry about the loss of your brother. The circumstances around it sound horrible as well. No wonder you're grieving. The loss of two jobs is also fairly major, especially with all you did with the second job. Do you feel comfortable no longer giving them technical support unless they pay you? It sounds like that don't appreciate you the way they should.

This is a not fun time to job hunt, and job hunting is demoralizing all on it's own. What sort of help would you like/need in that direction? I'm good at generating ideas of things to do and I can run an editor's eye over a resume. Other people might have other skills that could help you.

Money issues plus trauma are always a serious challenge. Is there a way we can set up so that people who want to can pass some money your way? Paypal can work for small amounts, but my understanding is they get twitchy if it's too much. Patreon is an option as is some other crowdsourcing money organizers like GoFundMe and Kickstarter.

It sounds like you've just had a mountain of hurtful things happen to you over the past few years and yet you continue to do everything you can to keep it together and do your best. That's really admirable.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:58 AM on September 1, 2015

grimcity, I'm so sorry for everything that's happened. Again sending you support and good thoughts. It's so good that you have your work with the skate kids, that is such a valuable thing you're doing for them and I bet it helps you to keep your head on straight too.

Seconding that I bet people here would be willing to help with job hunting and anything in that line. There are a few computery things posted in the Jobs section here, and possibly members in the NOLA area will know of other leads closer to you.

Also - I appreciate Deoridhe's very kind thought here, but to be clear, any money stuff needs to happen privately offsite; it can't be a site-facilitated thing. Sorry about that.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:05 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thank you, Deoridhe. I don't know what to do. I can't ask for money though. Hoping the funeral home will allow me to pay for just the original funeral cost, as that would give me more time while I job hunt. Will be back in the thread later, a bit sedated at the moment.
posted by grimcity at 12:08 PM on September 1, 2015

Is it too late to apply for unemployment? Your taxes paid into that account for years; now that you need it, can it help you?
posted by salvia at 12:38 PM on September 1, 2015

Wow, grimcity. What a heavy burden of burdens you have been carrying.

I just want to say that getting your meds, getting resumes out -- not just at all but more than last week even! -- these are wins. These are BIG wins. These are genuine accomplishments, of which you should be justly proud. Way to go you.
posted by KathrynT at 7:18 PM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]

Hey grimcity, just wanted to come by and say I'm thinking of you and your wife and I hope you're feeling a bit better.
posted by dawkins_7 at 12:25 PM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

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