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Coping with the Boston marathon bombing, West, TX disasters

By Dr. Harold Duncan

You and I were not there to witness the terroristic Boston Marathon bombings on Patriots’ Day, 2013.  Nor were we in West, Texas, two days later to experience the tragic explosion of the fertilizer plant and the many levels of devastation that ensued.Harold Duncan Cut Out Feb 2013

However, most of us have seen those images of destruction, carnage, chaos, grief and trauma in our own homes and offices—many, many times over.  We’ve heard about the brave first responders and “ordinary heroes.”  We’ve heard the heart-wrenching stories of people whose lives have forever been changed.

It is not necessary to be an eyewitness to these events.  We can still be traumatized.  We can all relate to pain, loss of life and tragedy.  Often the fresh and persistent images on our screens serve as” triggers” to remind us of similar trauma we have experienced personally.

It is not unusual for people to experience a variety of symptoms following these kinds of crises:

  • Sleep Changes—Increased sleep during the day or decreased sleep at night
  • Loss of Interest in activities that used to interest them
  • Guilt—Even when there is no logical reason to feel that way
  • Lack of Energy—Unexplained fatigue
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Rumination on the “why” questions—Trying to make sense out of something that makes no sense

In times and situations like these, it is usually more constructive to think about and act upon not the “why” questions but the “what now” steps.  What can I do to keep myself from sliding into and staying in a state of depression and/or anxiety, and what can I do to help others who have suffered similar pain?

Initially, if you can relate to some of the above symptoms, I urge you to call your physician’s office immediately.  See if something needs to be addressed on a medical level.  You may also want to contact a professional counselor who can help you address any of your own issues regarding loss, grieve and trauma.

In addition, consider some of these practical “what now” suggestions:

  • Don’t watch the news over and over.  Give yourself permission to go on a “news fast.”
  • Focus on your Physical Health—Regular check-ups, Sleep and rest, Exercise, Good nutrition, Exercise
  • Avoid Self-Medication—Alcohol, Drugs, Nicotine and even Food
  • Find someone to talk to—Family, Friend, Professional
  • Read good, positive, inspirational material
  • Write—Keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings
  • Do something for someone else.  Explore opportunities to volunteer your time and energy to help others who are less fortunate than you.

Even though we cannot undo the damage that has been done in these specific crises, there are always people who can benefit from our efforts to help, and we can experience healing by means of the process of helping others.


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