Mind & Body

Insights from Boston: Finding Strength Amidst Tragedy


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Photo c/o Frankie Concepcion

MUNI on this:

How can a person stay strong in the face of tragedy?

The week of April 15, 2013 was a rough time for many. On April 15, 2013, two bombs killed three and injured hundreds at the Boston Marathon, and only a few days later, April 19, the entire city was shut down in pursuit of the two men suspected to be responsible. Whether you hear these stories on the news, the internet, or experience them firsthand, there is no denying the effect tragedies like these have on all of us, and that the suffering of others will always be a source of anxiety and sorrow.

For this writer in particular the events of last week were especially moving. I’ve lived in Boston for just three years, but I am who I am today because of my decision to move here, grow here, learn here, make connections here, fall in and out of love here. To see so much heartache in this place I now call home has had a great impact on me and my friends.

I know people who stood feet away from the blast, and people who offered their homes, jackets, and cellphones to those in need. My roommates and I sat at home, glued to the news, as police hunted down those responsible for Monday’s tragedy, and when they found him, we were with our fellow Bostonians as they celebrated in the streets. All of us here have had similar reactions to these events− “unreal,” “anxious,” “numb,” and “confused” are words I’ve heard many times over the past two weeks. That said, the support we’ve received from teachers, friends, family and strangers all over the world has been overwhelming, and through this article I only wish to do the same for others.

The effects of trauma and tragedy are universal. If you or anyone you know has been affected by these recent disasters, or if you or a loved one have recently experienced a tragedy of your own, here are things you need to know about coping with traumatic stress:

What you might be feeling now

While some people may suffer from physical symptoms such as nausea and headaches [1], more often the effects of trauma are less drastic but still disturbing and confusing. Keep in mind that these feelings are normal and will pass. Numbness, shock and denial are often experienced shortly after a traumatic event, followed by loneliness, irritability, and lack of focus. If you do experience any physical symptoms, do not hesitate to seek medical attention or counseling services.

How to begin the healing process

Acknowledging your emotions is the first step towards healing. Be patient with yourself, and do not hesitate to seek support from friends, family, or even support groups with people who have had similar experiences. At this point, the best thing you can do is re-establish your daily routines − find comfort in the familiar. Eating healthy foods and getting proper amounts of rest will also speed your way towards recovery.

Seeking professional help
If you find that after a long period of time your feelings of sadness or anxiety are still overwhelming, or if you feel like your career or relationships are being negatively affected by your moods, you may want to seek help from a metal health expert. Watch out for symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress − aggressive emotional outbursts, extreme withdrawal, fatigue, continued difficulty sleeping or eating − so that you and your loved ones are prepared to address the situation as effectively and soon as possible. [2]

For my fellow Filipinos and human beings who were affected by any of last week’s tragedies: I extend my love and care to you. Together we can recover from anything and, in time, hopefully see these negative events as things that will only make us stronger.

If you or a loved one in the Philippines are experiencing symptoms of depression or thoughts of suicide, please call these Crisis Intervention hotlines immediately:

(02) 804-HOPE (4673)
0917-558-HOPE (4673) or (632) 211-4550
* from this ABS-CBN news article

For those in the U.S., contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990, or Text TalkWithUs to 66746.

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