Terror victims study proves our resilience.

Floral tributes outside the Bataclan Theatre in memory of the victims of the Paris attacks1

Floral tributes outside the Bataclan Theatre in memory of the victims of the Paris attacks

Patricia Casey

On Friday, November 13 2015, a series of terror attacks erupted in Paris. They were mercilessly launched on people gathered at various social outlets and events in order to maximise the carnage. A football match was the first target in this co-ordinated killing spree. This was followed by shootings at restaurants and cafes and finally a metal concert in the Bataclan Theatre. Hostages were taken there also. A total of 130 lost their lives and over 4,000 were injured, almost 100 seriously. These were the most serious attacks on the city since WWII. Isis claimed responsibility.

It is no surprise that the impact of these attacks on the psyche of those involved, both directly as victims and less directly as observers, has been studied in depth by psychiatrists and psychologists, as have attacks in other locations. The London bombing and 9/11 attacks in New York have both generated large volumes of research information. In the April issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, a paper exploring the impact of the Paris attacks, headed by Dr Stephanie Vandentorren, of the French Public Health Agency, has been published.

Two groups were studied. First responders were fire officers, rescue workers and so on exposed during the first 12 hours after the events. The second group were witnesses – those who were themselves under threat of being killed, held hostage or injured or had seen somebody in that position, or heard of a close relative in that predicament. These could be either directly exposed or have witnessed them from their homes. Seeing these events only on the media did not constitute exposure. Various face-to-face structured interviews were administered and over 400 people were interviewed.

Among rescue workers, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was diagnosed in 3pc and an anxiety disorder in 14pc. Among civilian witnesses, more than 15pc were significantly distressed, 25pc had possible PTSD, while 18pc were diagnosed definitively with it, and 10pc had depression. As expected, those indirectly threatened had lower levels than close relatives of victims, and the highest rates of mental health problems was in those directly threatened.

Almost half of civilians had more than six months treatment for a mental health problem, compared with a third of first responders. However, most had returned to work six months after the attack. These results show that first responders had lower rates of mental health problems than civilians and they required less professional help.

This study shows that people witnessing traumatic events are more vulnerable to mental health problems than are first responders. It may be that the training those in rescue and first response teams receive helps them withstand the distress of their direct involvement. It is also likely that if they had concerns about mental health difficulties developing after the attacks, they pro-actively sought help as a preventative measure and needed it for a shorter period.

During their training, they will have been made aware of the help that it available should they ever require it. Civilians on the other hand may feel less entitlement to such help and may defer seeking it until their distress is much more incapacitating.

The positive finding, that all but 6pc returned to work, shows the power of healing. Similar results were described following the 9/11 bombings and the London attacks. Either time or therapy seems to have benefited those who were suffering in the aftermath. This surely proves the resilience that human beings are endowed with, enabling them to deal with major traumas and to emerge from the quagmire of distress that engulfed them.

Resilience is determined by several factors. The personality of each individual is probably the single most important element, while the presence of support from family, friends and the community is next. Having a person to talk to is undoubtedly beneficial. The scientific literature on resilience has been developing in recent years and it also describes the value of positive coping, religious coping, having a sense of purpose in life, and altruism.

It is comforting to know we are not long-term victims of the events that befall us. Rather, we are strong and can emerge from the suffering of terrible events with more compassion and a better understanding of life.

With Courtesy of The Indipendent.ie

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Your Life is Not about You. Ask Neal Donald Walsch.

“If we are what we think, and you think you can’t do it, then you are absolutely Right.”

 

“What goes around comes around.”

What if you are depressed?

Find someone else who is depressed. And give him what you want for Yourself.

The Pursuit of Happiness vs Search of Meaning.

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When I started to look for my purpose, I was recovering from occupational burn out, and PTSD ( except I didn’t understand it ). My doctor played a mentor’s role in the story and he pushed me to my life questioning. Before that, I was completely unaware and in so-called hamster wheel.

In february 2016, I lost a camerade, at work, for a stroke, at 7 am. He was, apparently, quarelling with his manager when he fell down on the ground.  They brought him to the hospital by a first aid helicopter, but it was too late. A stroke requires fast help, and perhaps, unhappily, it was not the case. When I arrived in the morning, I passed by the direction office, and heard the executive director preparing his speech for the team talk.

He was calling, on the phone, for all the team staff and occupational doctor, in order to announce that R. my brit camerade, aged 43, was lying in a hospital bed, waiting to cut his hoxygene off. They were just waiting for his parents to come from the UK. He left 4 children and a wife. Sure, you first wonder how it would be like if you were at his place. The fact is that in the early morning, at wake up, 6h45 am, I did my routine mindfulness meditation, and I remember addressing my Self to “above” to submit my service into something bigger than my ego, and my own will. If you see what I mean. We often ask and beg for what we want for us and we never put our selves in a humbling position.

Don’t ask what your Life can do for you, but what you can do for your Life“.

As soon as I stepped into the corridor of the management office, I had the gut feeling that I got my answer or, at least, for just that day. No more excuses, I needed to talk.

So, for the very first time, fearless, I crossed over the door of my executive director, in order to speak out loud and we finally had a powerful, understanding, conversation.  He was in dispair, it was his third loss in a few months, and right after the november attacks, which had such an impact on our workplace, and our spirit. To minimize, my manager tried to tell me that all of us have personal situations which put our health in danger. Work issues wasn’t concerned. Invisible wounds and stress disorders cannot be taken seriously – at a work environement – as a proof of stroke, heart attack or any other health disease, because if you survive, there is a clause of confidentiality. They keep it as a secret. You’d better not talk about. That’s how people get depressive and suicidal, what the hell.

“They say that your purpose is what you struggle with.”

So, the promise I have made to my Self, in that dark upsetting morning, was precisely to take responsability for Me and My own Life. To be honest, from 2015 to 2017, I’ve been writing a memoir in my mother language, that I have tried to get published, but no one showed up unless ahaha! some editing publisher from Rome who complimented me and, as offer, asked me 1500 euros to get my work published. Never mind. What’s the main purpose of all this writing, I wondered, if not healing and sharing? 

***

 

In her book “The Power of Meaning,” Emily Esfahani Smith rounds up the latest research — and the stories of fascinating people she interviewed — to argue that the search for meaning is far more fulfilling than the pursuit of personal happiness.

 

Our culture is obsessed with happiness. Even though we devote vast amounts of time and resources trying to be happier, many of us feel aimless and alienated nonetheless. With depression and loneliness trending upward for decades and the suicide rate rising around the world — recently reaching a 30-year high in the United States — it’s clear that something is wrong. In recent years, social scientists have been trying to understand what exactly the problem is. What they’ve found is striking. What predicts the rising tide of despair sweeping across society is not a lack of happiness. It’s a lack of something else — a lack of having meaning in life. In fact, chasing and valuing happiness, the way our culture encourages us to do, can actually make people unhappy.

This set Smith on a journey to understand what constitutes a meaningful life. After extensive research and reporting, she came to see that there are four pillars of a meaningful life — and she lays them out in her TED Talk. Ultimately, she discovered that the search for meaning is far more fulfilling than the pursuit of personal happiness — and we all have the power to build more meaning in our lives.

With courtesy of Ted Talk’s Ideas worth spreading

What your Ithaca means?

As you set out for Ithaca
hope that your journey is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – do not be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare sensation
touches your spirit and your body.

Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon – you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope that your journey is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind –
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and learn again from those who know.

Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so that you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.

Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithacas mean.