When Trauma Happens…

There has just been a terrible tragedy at Umpqua Community College. I would say it is way too close to home yet I realize whether it is in my immediate area or across the world, it is way too close to home! Where ever you live, this may be triggering strong emotions in you, your children, family members, or friends, conversely some may just be feeling numb.

Many are asking, how do I talk to my loved ones, friends, students about this or other senseless tragic events. Immediately after a trauma, it may be more about listening. Talking about safety plans, mental health issues, guns, driving safely etc. is important, yet may be best left for another day. Those effected may need to tell their story over and over, or may just want to be quiet. Be available to listen, and not judge the emotions, or lack of emotions expressed.

In the next days, weeks, or months, you or your loved one may experience symptoms that feel scary, disturbing, or disruptive to life. You may experience increased anxiety, depression, or grief reactions. You may also feel like you are re-experiencing the event with flashbacks, nightmares, or physical reactions. You may feel numb or avoid places, people, or things that remind you of the tragedy. You may remember in detail, not be able to remember at all or block certain aspects of the event. Feeling jumpy, angry, always on alert, difficulty concentrating or difficulty falling and staying asleep are also common. Children may be clingy, fear separation, withdraw, or exhibit aggressive behaviors.

While these symptoms are unpleasant, they are normal reactions to the trauma you have experienced. Talking to family and friends, telling your story, and practicing self-care will help you through this difficult time. If you feel that these symptoms are overwhelming and more help is needed, it is available. Look for a therapist that has experience in dealing with trauma, or feel free to call me at 503-896-6796 and make an appointment.