Most of you know that I’m a big nerd and sci-fi geek. I’ve written a few times in the past on Twitter (maybe here too) about certain episodes of various Star Trek franchises that have interesting connections to mental health. Sometimes it’s been about memory, sometimes trauma, there’s been one about self-injury and one about having multiple personalities and repressed memories.
After therapy this week I was sitting around and an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine popped into my head because of a phrase I remember from it.
It’s from the first two episodes which were two parts, called “Emissary”. In this episode we see that the new commander of Deep Space Nine, Commander Sisko, has experienced trauma in the form of losing his wife to the Borg. He encounters aliens who exist out of normal time and he has to explain to them that humans exist in linear time: a beginning, a middle and an end. The aliens have a hard time understanding this, in particular because when they see inside Sisko’s mind, he is living in what he would consider the past. The instance they see is when he found his wife dead on board their ship and he had to leave her there to save himself and their son.
Sisko doesn’t understand what the aliens are trying to tell him (they have other motives in trying to help him move on). Every time they take him back to that moment Sisko becomes very upset and asks them why they keep bringing him there. The aliens tell him that he exists there. Sisko insists that humans move along in linear time and that once a moment in time is over they can’t go back.
The aliens finally ask, “Then why do you exist here?”, referring again to that moment of his wife’s death.
Sisko finally understands that he never left that room on the ship. What’s the connection to me?
During therapy this week I told my therapist about the phone call I received from the woman who was there during the time I found my grandmother’s body. I had a bad feeling that I was going to cry while talking about it and I didn’t disappoint (of course it was disappointing to cry but you know that already).
I told my therapist how painful the phone call was and how I’ve been disturbed ever since.
When I think of my grandmother, I don’t have happy memories, not really. Anything I think of always leads back to that room…the room where I found her body. I see her lying there…her body was frozen in an odd posture of distress I won’t forget. I see her eyes which were partially open, staring right at me, and her eyes looked black and evil to me.
That’s the room I stay in when it comes to her. Every memory leads me back to that place, with me sitting against the wall looking at her body.
My therapist said that it’s understandable that I have these flashbacks as I had never seen death before and the whole situation was shocking and I was young. I was surprised that she called them flashbacks because I always think of flashbacks as being images that come out of nowhere and knock a person on the ground and leave them writhing and screaming or incapacitated. I’m not incapacitated by them they’re just…unsettling, unwelcome, immovable and disturbing.
Anyway, my therapist said that what I needed back then was someone with me to talk me through what was happening, to help me with what I was seeing and the fear I felt. She said that I need to do that now. I need to talk to my younger self and tell her that my grandmother was not in that body anymore, that death made her look different, that I don’t need to be afraid…things like that. I need to hold her hand through it and tell her everything’s ok.
So, I felt a connection with Commander Sisko because ‘I exist there’ and there sucks.