Friday the 13th November 2015, my friend Marie is invited by R., her long term girlfriend’s best friend, to go to the Eagles of Death Metal gig at the Bataclan, in the eleventh district of Paris, where I was living at that time. Her first reaction is to refuse, because she doesn’t care about this band and she’s tired from working all week. Finally she accepts, because she really likes R. and they don’t get the chance to hang out that often. They are at the show, drinking bad beer and taking selfies that Marie posts on Facebook. An hour later, the band is playing on stage when a loud bang surprises the crowd. She thinks it’s fireworks, that it’s part of the show. Suddenly the band runs off stage, another bang and it’s chaotic in the pit, where they fall on the floor. She falls on people. Because she’s big she’s afraid of hurting them. R. fell kind of into her arms. She keeps thinking everything is ok, she sees stains of light. Her gaze shifts and she sees a guy wearing weapons, with an automatic gun along his body. It’s all blur. She loses it, weeps a bit, then gathers herself together. R. is touching his upper leg and she realizes that he is wounded.
Marie is a survivor. She’s a victim of the Paris attacks that happened on the 13th November 2015, as she was in The Bataclan watching a show with her friend R. Her friend did not survive.
Since the attack Marie takes sleeping tablets. She can sleep only for a few hours at a time and keeps waking up, and being in a constant state of tension she’s constantly tired. I took this picture as she was waking up from an afternoon nap. The entire time she was asleep she held this position with her arm up the wall, which is the position she had while laying on the floor in the Bataclan during the 3h4O that lasted the attack. She now only sleeps in this position.
« I always had the feeling that I wasn’t allowed to suffer, that I had to go through something really intense to earn this right. But actually you’re never allowed to suffer. Whatever happens, your suffering is inconvenient for other people. At the same time it makes sense, because it’s unsolvable. When you’re presenting to people a problem that is impossible to solve, they panic. You’re just sending them this reflection that they are useless, so no doubt no one wants to hear your story. There is no solution.
It’s not easy to autorise oneself to be a victim without shutting one self into this role. You have to be a victim but also courageous, you have to overcome the pain but allow it at the same time. They are a lot of contradictory injunctions. People tell you to listen to your feelings, to get help, but these same people tell you to move forward and take action.
When you’re constantly tired because your whole body is in a perpetual tension as a result of the post traumatic stress disorder and people tell you ‘of course you’re exhausted, you do work a lot!’, they’re not acknowledging what’s really going on. They want to rationalise your pain. But you can’t rationalise a terrorist attack. »
The Post Traumatic Stress as a sequel of the attack is not only psychological. It has also modified Marie’s body functions and she has to get analyses done regularly.