“My body thinks something is gravely wrong, but my brain doesn’t have a clue what to do about it, so it starts racing to the worst possible conclusions.” – healthyplace.com ….


It was a beautiful day in the park. The skies were blue (well, mostly), children were happily splashing in the waters of the lake while dogs frolicked in and out of the waves or chased Frisbees and each other.  It was an ideal day in the company of family – until people decided to light a camp fire. Now, I have always enjoyed campfires, bonfires, and the flicker of flames in a fireplace, but not anymore.

It has been close to three months since we had to flee wildfires. I thought I was doing okay. And, for the most part I am, really.  But the scent of wood smoke had me hurrying to collect my things and leave.  On one hand my rational mind was telling me we were quite safe, but fear is not rational or logical in any way, and it was urging me to leave – pronto!

The smell of wood burning put me into hyper vigilant mode.  It felt like “the beast” (the name given to the wildfire) was about to roar once again. Even while I argued with myself not to be silly – it didn’t matter. And I really hope people don’t judge me or my fellow Fort McMurray residents for reacting to triggers like this.  It will take some time to fully recover from that day. And that’s okay. It truly was a horrific situation and we are all only human.

But I do hope there will come a day when I can gather with friends and loved ones around a camp fire without anxiety. For now I will continue to accept that things have changed – there is a new “normal” – at least for now.


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