Go Home Florence!

October 24th, 2018 | Posted in October 2018 by

A pickup truck drives on a flooded road past a farmhouse that is surrounded by flooded fields from Florence in North Carolina, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (The Atlantic Photo/Steve Helber)

Boats are stacked up on each other in a marina as a result from Florence in New Bern, NC., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. (The Atlantic Photo/Steve Helber)

 

There is that one thing that can spur you out of retirement from writing longer pieces, and well, this topic was it for me. I have been working for the past three years on a project that has consumed my writing time, and more recently I have taken a break from the constant once-a-month blogging. However, this topic stirred me to pick up the pen again.

The topic that inspired me? PTSD – the real silent killer.

People ask me about the aftermath of Hurricane Flo and how things are now. It’s been five weeks that rain and wind did not subside for four days on the coast of North Carolina – four days of holding our breath and our bodies kept riddled with fear and uncertainty.

So actually I find myself struggling with an answer for a few seconds. Naturally, we inquire about the physical state of things because unless you have gone through a natural disaster, you don’t necessarily consider anything other than the physical. Truthfully, that is all we SEE – social media, tv, newspapers, etc. is what our eyes see. With war, there is an expectation that there is an emotional residue that remains. But the experience of a natural disaster not brought on by anyone else’s agenda has a different impact. This was Mother Nature’s agenda.

To answer this question quickly is catching me off guard because my answer is based on what I am feeling. And it’s different than anything I have ever felt before. What hit me profoundly is the emotional and psychological toll that an event such as this can have on a community and individuals AND how people don’t really talk about it much. It’s not making headlines anymore. It’s not selling news. But I feel it everywhere I go, and all I can say is that I was so unprepared for it – literally in every way possible.

A wise friend who has experienced many hurricanes told me that you cannot imagine what you will be seeing and the emotional impact is unimaginable as well. So if you need to leave and come back, do so, because you cannot see ‘it’ – TRAUMA. And we cannot see what changes occur from trauma – it unfolds slowly within us. It’s essential to stay connected, reach out, talk to someone, ask questions, and stay present to friends’ and family’s behavioral changes. Stay transparent and know it’s okay whatever you’re feeling even if you cannot communicate it clearly. Sometimes saying, “I don’t know how I am feeling; I just feel different,” is enough acknowledgment for now. PTSD shows up in many different-size packages, and so does grief. Try not to dismiss any of PTSD’s symptoms, and use the coping tools of communication and staying present.

Grief is a very different experience for each one of us, and it lives within us. Acknowledge your feelings, and be kind to and patient with yourself. Find that someone to talk with or that someone who will witness you by lending their heart and ears. We are creative, resourceful, and whole, and at this moment we may be just a little fragmented. Given the right tools, it can be temporary.

Good to be back – I have missed you!

With love to you,

Photographs courtesy of The Atlantic. See more photographs here.

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