Events out of the ordinary can often cause a variety of reactions. These traumatic events usually affect people differently. Sometimes reactions happen immediately after experiencing or hearing about an event. Sometimes you may feel fine for a number of days, even weeks, and then suddenly have a reaction. These reactions can last for a few days, weeks or sometimes months, depending upon your experience of the situation and/or your relationship with those who were involved with the traumatic event. Traumatic events also have a ripple effect – family members, friends and co-workers are all affected.
It is important to remember that having some reaction is normal. Victor Frankl, a Nazi concentration camp survivor and author once said that “an abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior” (1951). Some of these normal reactions include:
- Disrupted sleep, nightmares
- Appetite disturbance
- Body pains (back, neck, stomach, etc.)
- Heightened state of fear & vulnerability
- Being easily startled
- Feelings of being overwhelmed
- Trouble concentrating
- Short term memory loss
- Withdrawal from normal activities
- Feeling detached from others
- Intrusive flashbacks or recollections about the event
THINGS THAT YOU CAN DO
- Maintain a normal and predictable routine for yourself and your family.
- Structure your time and keep busy.
- Avoid trying to numb the pain by overusing drugs or alcohol.
- Don’t isolate-talk with others and share your thoughts, feelings and experiences.
- Keep a journal, write a lot, especially at those times you can’t sleep.
- Get plenty of rest and eat regular meals, even if you don’t feel like it.
- Give yourself permission to understand that you are experiencing an “abnormal event” and that you will have some type of “abnormal reaction” which is normal.
- Use physical exercise as a good outlet for your feelings.