I was with friends yesterday when the television news announced the crash of a helicopter on the roof, and resulting fire, of a mid-Manhattan high rise on Seventh Avenue; and that the pilot died. We all breathed-in sharply and were blindsided again; all made differing remarks that really were the same. “Oooooh.” “Oh my God, not again?” Are terrorists at it?” We watched the news further, and it was obvious that the so-called sophisticated New Yorkers had our same reaction. I think the reaction was a little PTSD. We haven’t felt safe since 9/11. And there have been so many horrific events that we could not ignore. Each one brought a little of the fear back. So the question is: what will make us less fearful? When will we hear about horror and be able to process the horror without withdrawing in quaking fear? Some of us do better than others.
I googled the concept of feeling safe because I thought that if you felt safe, then you would better be able to handle disruptive and overwhelming events. I am not so innocent as to think that we can wipe away the images of the slaughter of peoples or deaths from naturally occurring disasters. We are mostly an empathetic people and as well we should be; but empathy is very different from wallowing in dread. Constant consternation will reek a toll on the pysche or spirit, as we have learned from our military survivors. I am summarizing one thought I saw on Google. ‘Sleeping underneath your bedding makes you feel safe and protected, which increases your brain’s serotonin levels and decreases the presence of stress hormones.’
I believe that the physical reaction from fear is from an increase in stress hormones and that sleep, if possible, will help us feel safe; that’s if we are able to sleep without swallowing pharmaceutical preparations. No sense in going from one problem to another. I have found a personal escape for myself from the reality of feeling constant trepidation. My escape is not permanent. It just allows me a couple of hours to cut the continuing thoughts of horror from my brain, while my subconscious heals itself. I read or write fictional murder mysteries believing that make-believe fear and a puzzle to solve involves the brain and protects it for a short while from reality fears. My brain knows the difference. My body does not react to fictional problems. It does react to real problems. Now another positive manner which would also involve the heart and brain is prayer. Many would use that. Whatever method you use to feel safe; do it. Do not stay chained to 24/7 news on the terror that occurs. Don’t ignore the events; just don’t let them control you; you would not then stay clear-headed.
K. B. Pellegrino