Do you ever watch those prescription drug commercials, and listen all the way to the end, only to hear the announcer speak at auction-house-speed about all the terrible side effects the medicine could cause? I know you have. My favorite is when they say, “and death.” Death, no thank you! You get the point.
The disaster that keeps on giving…
Once the water began to recede you think to yourself, the hard work of rebuilding has to begin and that will be the worst of it. I don’t think anyone prepares for the side effects of such a traumatic experience. Even if you expected to have some struggles, most people have no clue what to expect. I know I never dreamed I would see a Facebook post from my very laid back and private husband that read, “First thing I do every morning now is touch the floor to see if it is wet.” It never dawned on me that another prominent pastor in my community would say, “I get sick to my stomach every time it starts to rain.” These are men, real men, fathers and husbands that are working tirelessly to help clear out debris and help rebuild communities. The side effects miss no group. It is not biased by gender, race, age, or class. Children run for cover at the sound of thunder. It ranges from moms who are ready to throw their phone from hearing the weather alert alarms go off one after the other. To the heartbreaking mom that is having nightmares of losing her special needs child who relies on technology for survival, in the midst of another flood. I would love to tell you that these aren’t actual accounts and that my imagination just runs away with me. Unfortunately, I can’t. These are the harsh realities people are facing in the aftermath of this disaster.
Mental Health is just as important as physical health…
When the rescue boats were bringing people in out of the flood the first thing rescue workers would do was get them to a station for triage. You see we make it a point to make sure our physical health is always intact. We must also be vigilant to protect our mental health. This is especially true in cases after a traumatic event. You can’t predict when it may all become too much, and anxiety is a beast that by nature will take over. I am providing just a few tips below, on how to possibly prevent and ease the mental side effects of a natural disaster.
Tips to help you cope
- Power down and disconnect.
Limit your time watching the news and viewing disturbing images on social media. This is especially important at night and close to bed time. Basically find the off button and click it! (For many this may be easier said than done. Just try it!)
- Face your feelings.
Try not to avoid the difficult emotions you may be experiencing. Allow yourself to grieve and mourn your losses. It may also help to talk to others who are going through this tragic time with you. This will help you feel less alone and like someone else understands.
- Embrace hope and not helplessness.
Find ways to serve others. Join a community group or recovery team. You may be surprised at how little time you have to be depressed when you are active and busy making progress. Moving forward can sometimes be the best medicine for letting go of the past.
- Know when to seek help.
Man, woman, boy, or girl there is NO shame in speaking to a mental health professional. I am a firm believer that if the majority of people would take care of their mental needs, the world would be a much better place in which to live. If you were experiencing a headache you more than likely would not hesitate to take something for it. So don’t think twice about seeking mental help.
Click here for a list of mental health resources being provided in our area.
How are you protecting your mental health? Do you know the signs of weather anxiety?