“The war has made me indifferent to death”

Diana, a 24-year-old lesbian working at a pharmacy, recounts the onset of a full-scale invasion in her city. What begins as a routine day quickly spirals into chaos as panicked crowds flood the store, stocking up on supplies amidst the uncertainty of war. Amidst the frenzy, Diana’s initial disbelief gives way to grim acceptance as she grapples with the reality of the situation.

As the conflict escalates, Diana finds herself navigating the tumultuous landscape with a strange calmness, while still grappling with the profound sadness and existential numbness brought on by the violence. Her story reflects the resilience and inner turmoil experienced by many caught in the throes of war. Our columnist Iryna Hanenkova has put down her story.

The first day of the full-scale invasion began like any other: I woke up, prepared for work at the pharmacy, calmly drove in, and awaited customers. Typically, the mornings were slow, with few visitors until around ten o’clock. I wasn’t part of any messenger newsgroups and avoided reading the news on principle.

So, as I began my workday, the sudden influx of people at eight in the morning struck me as odd. ‘Perhaps just some early customers,’ I thought. Yet, as the day progressed, the line grew longer, and panic buying of bandages and iodine ensued, leaving me bewildered.

Diana

By midday, the line extended onto the road, and a significant portion of our stock had been depleted. My phone buzzed incessantly with calls and texts from concerned relatives and friends, but I was too occupied to respond, rushing to fulfill orders amidst the chaos.

Chaos around me

Around five in the evening, a calm man stood before me, a stark contrast to the frantic crowd and myself. ‘Take a moment, catch your breath,’ he advised. ‘You’re overexerting yourself. You’ll faint if you don’t slow down.’ Grateful for the respite, I inquired about the sudden surge in customers. ‘The war has begun,’ he calmly informed me. I couldn’t comprehend his words. How could it be? Everything seemed normal. By day’s end, the pharmacy was nearly empty, affording me a brief moment to hydrate and eat as the reality of the situation slowly sank in.

You are coming with us

A call from my best friend shattered any illusions of normalcy:

– ‘Where are you? Why didn’t you pick up?’
– ‘I’m at work. Can you believe how busy it is? And someone said, “The war has begun!”‘ I chuckled nervously.
– ‘The russians attacked! We’re leaving. Come with us! I won’t leave you behind!’

It dawned on me that this was no jest. ‘Where are you going? I can’t abandon my responsibilities here, or my parents,’ I protested.

– ‘You’re coming with us! I can’t bear the thought of leaving you behind. We don’t know what’s coming. Kyiv is under attack, tanks are advancing!’
– ‘I won’t leave, but please take care of yourself.’

Diana

Subsequently, I caught up on the news and slowly accepted the grim reality. The days that followed were routine – home, work, home – until the distant explosions in Lviv brought the war closer to home. Yet, amidst the turmoil, a strange calm settled within me. It’s as if my mind reverted to a childlike curiosity, finding fascination in the chaos, overshadowing the adult fears of tomorrow’s uncertainties and deaths.

I mourn for those sacrificing their lives for our freedom, yet the war has numbed me to death’s inevitability. Perhaps it’s exacerbated by the lingering depression from a painful breakup. Left alone, I’ve grown indifferent to my own possible demise. The constant drone of explosions outside my window has normalized death to me.

Nothing will be ever the same

There’s a profound sadness for our nation and its people, yet despair has given way to a numbing acceptance. The war has transformed us all, though not everyone wears their suffering outwardly. At times, waves of despair and anxiety grip me, a visceral pain that transcends mere words. It’s a pain for our land, our people, and the decay of the world around us.

Deep down, there’s a flicker of hope that we’ll emerge victorious, that the bloodshed will cease. But the trauma-induced calm whispers that nothing will ever be the same, regardless of the war’s outcome.

This is how you can donate


INDIVIDUAL HELP Munich Kyiv Queer has its own fundraising campaign via https://www.paypal.me/ConradBreyer to support queer people in Ukraine who are in need or on the run. Why? Because not all LGBTIQ* are organised in the local LGBTIQ*-groups. This help is direct, fast and free of charge if you choose the option “For friends and family” on PayPal. If you don’t have PayPal, you can alternatively send money to the private account of Conrad Breyer, speaker of Munich Kyiv Queer, IBAN: DE427015000021121454.

All requests from the community are meticulously checked in cooperation with our partner organisations in Ukraine. If they can help themselves, they take over. If the demands for help exceed their (financial and/or material) possibilities, we will step in.

HELP FOR LGBTIQ* ORGANISATIONS To support LGBTIQ* in Ukraine we have helped set up the Alliance Queer Emergency Aid Ukraine, in which around 40 German LGBTIQ* Human Rights organisations are involved. All these groups have access to very different Human Rights organisations in Ukraine and use funds for urgently needed care or evacuation of queer people. Every donation helps and is used 100 percent to benefit queer people in Ukraine. Donate here

Questions? www.MunichKyivQueer.org/donations