The acts of terror on September 11, 2001 are becoming more distant by the day; it’s been over fifteen years now. But the memories of those first days following the attacks are fresh in many people’s minds, even now. It’s almost impossible to imagine the magnitude of loss that occurred that day. Even those who were not present in New York and did not loose anyone lost their sense of normal. We all feared further attacks. Many feared what would happen in regard to potential military engagement and what that would mean for their loved ones in the military.
Similarly, school and other shootings that impact large numbers of people can affect people across the country and completely unconnected by anything except their shared humanity. After such a loss, we’re inundated with images and stories of the tragedy through social media and the regular news. The constant reminders of the losses people are experiencing can make it incredibly difficult to get back to normal.
On top of the constant exposure, it’s common to struggle with the disruption of our sense of normal society and security. You may feel anxious walking around your neighborhood or local mall. You may feel nervous dropping your children off at school.
Terror attacks and shootings are not the only types of large-scale tragedies that can impact us. Mass illness, natural disasters, losses due to war—all of these may affect you, whether or not you were present at the tragedy’s point of origin, and whether or not you personally experienced a loss.
If you are struggling, if you are suffering, even if you don’t know why and can’t describe how, please contact Thriveworks Peachtree City Counseling. Our counselors are experts at helping people cope with tragedy and trauma.
The effects of regional and national tragedies are far-reaching. You don’t have to be immediately present to experience the fallout that occurs after an act of terror has been perpetrated or after a horrific accident with multiple casualties. These types of events acutely remind us of our own vulnerabilities and expose our deepest fears.
Certain tragedies may impact you differently than others. For example, tragedies involving children are often extra difficult to process. If you do not have children, you likely know children. Their innocence deserves protection, and they deserve the opportunity and safety to develop into the fullest expression of their potential. When we see such innocence shattered through tragedy, it’s hard to reconcile with our sense of fairness.
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel following a tragic event. Emotions such as disbelief, helplessness, guilt, shame, and even relief, can ebb and flow in waves. Physical symptoms including racing thoughts, stomach tightening, and cold sweats are also common. At Thriveworks Peachtree City, our mental health therapists are well-versed in the symptoms of trauma as well as the stages of recovery, and can help guide you along the path to healing.
Signs You’re Struggling
If, after a few weeks, you are unable to begin returning to a normal pattern of behavior and thought, you might be struggling. This includes continually seeking out new information and experiencing unstable emotions including prolonged sadness or anger.
There’s nothing wrong with needing some help to process major tragedies. Our counselors at Thriveworks Peachtree City are experts in the many ways in which humans process events; we’ve seen it all. With some help from a therapist, it’s possible to return to a healthy, balanced state of mind following tragedy.
How to Help Yourself
Of course we’d suggest calling a therapist. But, there are some other steps you can take immediately.
Important steps to take when faced with this type of trauma:
- Keep structure. There is comfort in the familiar.
- Use gentle words, externally towards those with different points of view, and internally with yourself.
- Limit negative input by removing yourself from nonproductive conversations and by restricting the viewing of repetitive negative images.
- Don’t isolate. Helping others allows you to reclaim power and diminished your sense of vulnerability.
- Work towards forgiveness.
- In regard to children, limit their exposure to excessive images or news about the events. Answer their questions in age-appropriate ways. Remember that their world has been rocked too; they’re relying on you to assure them that you’ll take care of them.
Unresolved trauma can lead to long-term depression and anxiety, which can both lead to other health issues including sleep disturbance, substance abuse, blood pressure problems, and more. For that reason, seeking out therapy for large-scale tragedies can be very beneficial. Therapy helps patients process and overcome trauma. Once the trauma is overcome, the person can go on to live a happy, healthy, balanced life. Though the memories of the trauma will still be present, they won’t hold as much power over the person.
If you need help processing a tragedy, call our Peachtree City counseling office. We’re waiting to help.
Thriveworks Peachtree City Counseling for Large-Scale Tragedies
If you’re having a difficult time processing a tragedy, realize that you are not alone; large-scale tragedies affect a magnitude of people. It takes time for your equilibrium to resume. However, if it’s been over six weeks and you are still struggling, or if you’re experiencing terrifying memories or suicidal thoughts, seek professional help. It’s important to process and resolve any trauma you’ve experienced in order to minimize the chances of developing a future disorder.
Thriveworks Peachtree City counselors are sensitive to the difficulty inherent in discussing traumatic events. We won’t judge or push you. We’re committed to helping you feel better. You can heal.
We don’t operate with a waiting list, so we can usually see new patients within 24 hours. Don’t
wait. Reach out. We’ll help you through the rest.
Mayo Clinic. “Post traumatic stress disorder.” Pamphlet. Mayoclinic.com.