As we experience the worldwide devastation recently of hurricanes, earthquakes, loss, flooding, etc. or see pictures, and news headlines, and hear things that cause us stress.
It is easy to become worried and feel vulnerable and helpless. I would like to share a few things to look for in yourself or your children so hopefully you can withstand the changes and still maintain a healthy emotional balance. (I´m borrowing some of this from Mental Health news) and adding my own experiences with clients and myself.
- Hypervigilance: survivors of loss, or devastation, often experience this thing called hypervigilance. Any little noise causes you to run for cover. A well-meaning, but unexpected touch from a loved one can cause you to yell out in fright. This is because the body is on high alert for another threat to your safety, which may make you feel jumpy and on edge. It also makes it difficult to relax emotionally, to sleep or to relax your muscles. Typically, this response goes away on its own, but may be more serious and lasting and develop into some PTSD. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). . .
- Anxiety and Depression: You might lose sleep, become irritable, shaky, lose interest in things, or have difficulty doing your work, staying on task, be more tired than usual. These symptoms may gradually lessen, but if they don,t, its good to talk with those you trust, and if that doesn´t relieve them, please talk with a counselor.
- Shock and Mindblock: It is also typical for survivors of earthquakes and other natural disasters to continuously relive the event in their head. Something that helps is to have a routine as soon as possible to return to some sense of normalcy as it will help you become more secure in your environment.
- Developing phobias: phobia or fear, (this is due to a desire to control the possibility of another disaster occurring). However, this is obviously out of our control, and can result in anxiety, extreme vulnerability and helplessness. I found myself waking in the middle of the night to check earthquake internet sites and check to see if I had missed a big one or could predict, when it would strike again, (and I did not even experience it firsthand, just felt the rolling sensation, nausea and blinds swinging, then watched the news over and over)
- PTSD: According to clinical psychologist Dr. Jana Scrivani, Psy.D., who has personally experienced an earthquake herself, “most folks directly impacted will exhibit many psychological symptoms that look like PTSD.” The majority will recover, but “a minority will become stuck, somewhere in the recovery process, and go on to develop PTSD.” Symptoms include intense fear, flashbacks, and nightmares. This is the most severe and lasting psychological effect an earthquake or other devastation may have on an individual. Definitely it is smart to get some counseling if this continues.
Feeling loss is very normal, loss of safety, loss of life, loved ones , comforts, basic needs, home, dreams, jobs, and not knowing what is going to happen or how you will take care of yourself, or your family..It truly CAN be devastating, (even when mixed with a few moments of relief or gratefulness). Witnessing devastation firsthand, and even on the news can make children as well as adults go through many of the steps described above. Children may not want to go to school for a while, though it is good to get into a routine, and have some expected place to be, or task to do, so that you have some structure. Many folks find they have to turn off the news and just deal with local pain and healing.
Grieving also takes time, and comfort, and can often last for months, years even, it is a very individual thing, so be kind to yourself, it is not a sign of weakness.
In working with survivors of loss or pain, I have learned it is important to be gentle, give yourself and others time, and be patient. you may have to listen to their stories many times, and let them ¨get it out¨by talking to someone who is empathetic and patient with them. That´s okay, and eventually help them recreate a new dream, new goals, while still honoring their loss. You are not asking them to forget, which becomes a fear after losing something of value..
Since we cannot control nature, we cannot promise something else bad will never happen in our lives..and yes, we all will face illness and death at some point. No, often it does not seem right, or fair, when that happens. God is not punishing us, but yes, the world has moved away from belief in Him and we have become more preoccupied with ourselves, dishonest politics, or even loss of personal integrity, and being prideful at times. So yes, I feel our world is, and will be rocky, as God has promised. We need to relearn how to honor Him, and loving our fellow man, instead of putting ourselves first.
I feel one of the best gifts we can offer our loved ones is resiliency, and strength in a power, higher than our own. Whatever is comforting and a person can perceive as comfort for themselves.. Objects become less important as we focus on helping and loving others, who feel hopeless. (Therefore my mission, which I serve humbly and feel so honored to work with the youth of the church who are out here in the trenches. )
For me, faith in Jesus Christ our Savior has been a lifesaver, and knowing our Father in Heaven has a larger plan. He has not abandoned us, and yes, miracles still do happen. If we don´t see them right away, or are even angry for a while, God understands that, (and it is an important step in grieving).
My prayer for you this week, is that, as we experience devastation personally, or around us, and perhaps even dodge the bullet, temporarily,—- that we do prepare, temporally, emotionally, and spiritually by developing a personal relationship with our Savior, knowing that His Mercy is sufficient to comfort us, He suffered for us, so that we could return to our Father in Heaven, and each other, in love. That is the one secure thing. All that is asked of us, is a broken heart and a contrite spirit. The price is already paid.
D & C 84:88 And, whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face, I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.
I so testify…