Gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, teeth-clenching trauma, resulting from events outside the range of normal human experience; leave us picking up the pieces of our lives. Things like hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes; terrorism, combat, and crime scene discovery; rape, murder, and child slavery abduction; starvation, loss of limb, and disaster recovery; may overwhelm our coping skills and leave us lost. This is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. It is temporary and, for most, will quickly pass.
Victims of such agony or upheaval usually experience a state of shock during the first 24-72 hours after its occurrence. If a special form of debriefing, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), is provided during this window, then Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may be preventable. Here is a USA TODAY article written about my trauma recovery work with surfer Bethany Hamilton. Contained within it is a CISM method I developed while working for the U.S. Air Force.
When those already suffering from PTSD encounter or even hear about another trauma, it can trigger their original trauma, creating confusion for them and those around them. The new situation may or may not be similar to its predecessor; but it can emotionally and physically re-create the sensations of the original experience, resulting in overwhelming feelings of anxiety, fear, and panic. Common symptoms of the anxiety disorder known as PTSD include, but are not limited to: being easily startled, having disturbing nightmares, being hyper-vigilant, being angry, being irritable, social isolation, and agitation.
Whether sustaining your first trauma, or a veritable veteran of such experiences; you may want to see a therapist, coach, or spiritual teacher to get the help you need sorting it out.
Iselle was a wild ride last night. She ripped up our gardens, blew out our screens, threw roofs around the neighborhood, played games with our emotions, and pounded at our house with violent fury. She was like a colossal wind monster huffing and puffing to blow our house down. My wife described the leafless plants as looking like chickens who had their feathers plucked. Although still without water and power, getting only two hours of fitful sleep last night; we and our dogs are safe, and we sustained only minimal property damage. I will post this as soon as we find an internet connection.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons