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Old 05-31-2011, 10:31 PM   #1
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Default Depressing Topic - Recent Disasters

I apologize for the depressing nature of this topic, but I was looking through the forums and wasn't didn't see much of anything related to it, and I just kind of needed to get it out. If you do not care to read the whole post, scroll to the bottom for the main point.

I live and go to school in Tuscaloosa, AL, and on April 27, I watched from my apartment 100 yards away as a huge tornado tore apart my town. My power cut out long before I could have been alerted that it had changed course and was coming near me, and I was stupidly unprepared as most college kids are and did not have a weather radio. I was really fortunate that it did not come any closer as my building received only minor damage. However, several of my friends lost everything they had and a person in one of my classes this semester lost their life. The man who gave the interview on CNN about surviving in his bathtub with his two dogs while his house blew away is my sister and brother-in-law's good friend.

Even though my residence was not directly hit by the storm, I was told by the counselling center at my University that there's a good chance I'm developing or have developed PTSD as a result of being in such a close proximity and being literally too much in shock to do anything. Large parts of the memory of that day and the night following have disappeared-- All I remember is seeing the tornado itself and about an hour later, my boyfriend banging on the door of my apartment to make sure I was ok since the phone lines were down. Any indication of an oncoming storm such as a siren, thunder or even heavy wind or viewing pictures or videos of the tornado itself reduces me to an essentially panicked reaction. I tried watching the special on the weather channel a week or so ago but it upset me so much it made me sick.

I feel bad for reacting that severely to it considering I was safe at the time it happened and came out with no physical harm, and while Tuscaloosa is devastated, other towns like Hackleburg, AL, and Joplin, Missouri are in worse shape. I mean, honestly, sometimes I feel guilty for even coming out of everything ok.

I guess, boiling down to it, has anyone else been through any of the disasters this year (or really, any other year, or any other event that triggers PTSD-- it just seems like this year is full of them), and are you reacting similarly? Am I just weird or are my feelings normal? How does it affect your lifestyle/habits when it comes to your weight loss, and how do you cope with it? Again, sorry to be depressing... I just need some direction, I suppose.
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Old 05-31-2011, 10:53 PM   #2
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I started my new healthier lifestyle September 2010. My brother died October 2010. That was my tragedy. I have continued without let up on my journey to be healthy and not only have I lost 57 lbs+, but I've increased my health rating so much that I qualify for "preferred" status on my life insurance policy.

Tragedy strikes us all at some time or another. We can change the past, but we can better our future.
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Old 05-31-2011, 11:53 PM   #3
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I live in an area that was majorly affected by Hurricane Katrina. Our house was the only one left that suffered no major damage out of my family. Everyone else lost most of their belongings, and their houses were either completely destroyed or flooded. I can completely identify with what you are feeling. It's hard to go through anything like that. It's something that you have no control over and it changes your life. I still can't watch the tv specials about the hurricane.

We evacuated for the storm, but even now my grandmother has near panic attack anxiety when we are supposed to get rain. My heart goes out to everyone who was affected by the recent tornadoes. Tornadoes are a scary thing. We have plenty of time to make preparations for hurricanes, but there is really no time with a tornado.

The bright side is - things will get better. People will rebuild, and you will be stronger for it. Life will eventually get back to what seems normal. I think what you are feeling is completely normal.
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Last edited by onagain1; 05-31-2011 at 11:55 PM.
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Old 06-01-2011, 12:08 AM   #4
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Don't apologize for being depressed. It gets us all sometimes. And it's great you're getting it out.
I live in Florida and have been through more hurricanes than I can remember, without ever feeling traumatized. I don't why you had such a strong reaction to seeing the tornado, but I do think it's normal. I really don't know how I'd feel if I seen a tornado. That is scary. Thats like feeling like you are going to die, is that how you felt? I'm sure any doctor would tell you the same, it's normal to get scared.
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Old 06-01-2011, 01:30 AM   #5
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I haven't been through any REAL disasters this year, though living in TN. we have our fair share of bad weather. But I've had a thunderstorm/tornado phobia ever since childhood that I'm VERY slowly just now starting to grow out of. I believe last year may have been the first year I could actually fall asleep while there is a severe thunderstorm warning blaring on the television and it is storming outside.

We have multiple warnings and watches for tornadoes all throughout the spring and summer where I live every year. I remember four bad occasions when I was in elementary school that pretty much scarred me. The first was my first real taste of how horrifying a bad storm can be. I'm not sure if I was in school yet, or if I was, I was in either kindergarten, 1st, or 2nd grade. I remember sitting in the living room of our trailer, playing with my toys, when my parents pulled me up and told me we had to leave the house. They had been standing at the kitchen window, staring at the sky, and saw a funnel cloud. So we run next door to my grandparents' house and the wind is going crazy. I start to feel scared. Later, my Dad confesses to seeing the tornado touch down behind us and go back into the clouds. We get to my grandparents' house and I just stare out the window, thinking how the wind looks like hurricane footage I've seen on the news before, with the trees flailing and the dark sky. It was VERY scary. Thankfully nothing was damaged (well, except my mind).

After that evening I would go into hysterical fits when the news announced any kind of warning or watch for our area. I also had a lot of nightmares about being chased or sucked into tornadoes.

I'll be quick with this. The next one is when I'm in either 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade. I'm sitting in the living room, watching sesame street. The wind picks up rapidly, and the trees start brushing the ground! These are tall, thick trees too. I go into a hysterical fit and my mother tries her best to calm me. Eventually we run outside, and I am in tears. Again, we're lucky and nothing bad happens.

The other times take place at my elementary school. There's one time when the entire school has to pile up in the basement, because we fear a tornado is coming. Thankfully, once again, it passes us. The other time is similar, we have to spend a lot of the day in the hall, because the storms are so bad outside.

There's been other times when we've left our trailer to go spend the storm at a church friend's house, because theirs is a basement house. I can remember hearing the wind and rain just pounding on the house. It felt like my heart was going to explode, I was so scared.

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Last edited by Serval87; 06-01-2011 at 01:33 AM.
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Old 06-01-2011, 10:19 AM   #6
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bama girl,
That must have been absolutely terrifying and I am not at all surprised that you have some of the feelings and reactions you are having, including even some survivor's guilt. I'm glad you saw a counselor at school and I would encourage you to continue to get counseling. These tornados have been horrific. My DH went to school in Joplin and I have some great memories of the town and I found it very upsetting and personal even though I am so far away and don't even know anyone who even lives there anymore. But just to read the stories about what people went through breaks my heart. So I do think you have a very valid reason for feeling the way you do and I would encourage you to continue to share your feelings, both here and with your family, friends and counselor.
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Last edited by midwife; 06-01-2011 at 10:20 AM.
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Old 06-01-2011, 10:38 AM   #7
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I agree, it sounds perfectly normal to be having these feeling after such a stressful event. I've had a couple of tornado scares but nothing compared to what you saw or have experienced. I imagine there might be a little survivors guilt involved since you came out of this safely when you know so many others didn't. I think visiting the counselor is a good idea. That's what they're there for. I bet they can help you work through this.

Last edited by Gogirl008; 06-01-2011 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 06-01-2011, 10:58 AM   #8
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My bf survived an f4 tornado that went directly over his back as he lay flat to the ground on the side of the highway. He suffered from PTSD for about a month.

Look into any support groups that may arise from the disaster. Hopefully, it's as temporary as my bf's, but I had domestic abuse PTSD that lasted for 2 years. There are ways to make behavioral changes for abuse PTSD, I'm sure there are ways to counter the PTSD from a disaster.

Take good care of this. It can be helped.
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Old 06-01-2011, 11:46 AM   #9
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Living in Louisiana you get used to the idea of natural disasters. I think no matter where you live, there is SOMETHING in nature that can bring devastation...

During Katrina, we had a tree go through our roof while we were inside. I was heavily pregnant, scared and hot and miserable. No one had power for over a month afterward and hubs lost his job because the building he worked out of was destroyed.

Rita came through the following month, we still did not have power or a solid roof and I got booted out of the hospital to drive to what was left of my home in 60 mph winds with a newborn less than 24 hrs after my c-section to make room for new patients. I was so stressed out I couldn't take it any more. 3 weeks later we moved to another state.

In the end moving didn't really make me feel any safer, in Arizona there is severe flooding when it rains, rattlesnakes and scorpions everywhere. I stressed about every little thing for atleast a year afterward. Now instead of being so worried about the weather for part of the year I was terrified for my kids to play outside. I only traded one fear for another.

I think talking about it with other people helped. Time helped most of all. I'm back in Louisiana, stayed away for over 3 years. With all the flooding going on right now I was worried it would bring back all those old feelings. I have friends that have no homes right now thanks to the current disasters, and I feel both guilty and fortunate that my home is spared while theirs are under water.

It is perfectly normal to feel the way you do. We don't get to choose whether things like this happen to us, and there isn't anything we can do to prevent it. The shock is the worst part, but thankfully that fades over time regardless of everything else. It might help you to be proactive in some way, helping those around you who have been affected...whether that is just talking to people who need an ear or organizing a fundraiser for a family you know needs help getting back on their feet.

It can be a rough couple of months re-adjusting. If you don't see improvement or it gets worse, there is nothing wrong with seeking help. If you have help readily available to you at university more's the better.
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Old 06-01-2011, 08:13 PM   #10
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I haven't had anything happen to me but I lived in Joplin for a few years and have friends there and it saddens me to see all the devastation. I can only imagine how horrible it would be. My heart goes out to everyone who has dealt and is dealing with all this...hugs to you!
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