The daily trauma that the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill left behind

There are lots of problems with the term post-traumatic stress disorder — not merely that because of its common association with war, its prevalence among people unaffected by war tends to get overlooked.

The term itself is misleading in that it suggests an inability to recover from a traumatic event, whereas in reality, for individuals experiencing PTSD, the trauma is ongoing. It is much more of a present-traumatic stress disorder than post-traumatic.

Dahr Jamail reports: Most people believe only those who have experienced war can know post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But those living in the impact zone of BP’s 2010 oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico know differently.

John Gooding, a fisherman and resident of the coastal city of Pass Christian, Mississippi, began having health problems shortly after the disaster began. He became sicker with each passing month, and moved inland in an effort to escape continuing exposure to the chemicals after being diagnosed with toxic encephalitis.

He experiences seizures regularly, and two of his dogs even died of seizures from what he believes was chemical exposure.

“I’ve been married 25 years, and my wife and I’ve never had problems. But recently we’ve started having problems, mostly because of finances and my health,” Gooding told Al Jazeera.

“I can no longer work because of my physical sickness from the chemicals. My wife is struggling with depression, and is going through grief counselling due to having to deal with my ongoing health issues. Our savings is gone. Our retirement is gone. This has been a living hell and continues to be a nightmare.”

Gooding’s story is not uncommon among countless Gulf residents living in areas affected by the BP disaster.

“People are becoming more and more hopeless and feeling helpless,” Dr Arwen Podesta, a psychiatrist at Tulane University in New Orleans, told Al Jazeera back in August 2010. “They are feeling frantic and overwhelmed. There is already more PTSD and more problems with domestic violence, threats of suicide and alcohol and drugs.”

BP’s attempts to minimise the amount of compensation it pays to those affected is not helping to improve what now are chronic psychological, community, and personal impacts along the Gulf coast. [Continue reading…]

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1 thought on “The daily trauma that the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill left behind

  1. Don Graham

    As a 70% PTSDisabled “Baby Killer,” I am well aware of the misunderstanding around post & present stress, and that wars are not the only cause. I frequently wonder what it must be like for the locals after we leave a conflict. How much worse it must be for the locals when we remain, i.e., Okinawa, Roda or Texas. What sort of mental health or decontamination services, if any, are available to those locals?

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