Mental health issues emerging for survivors of the March 2 tornadoes

Print
Email
|

by Chelsea Rabideau

WHAS11.com

Posted on May 9, 2012 at 5:36 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 9 at 5:36 PM

HENRYVILLE, Ind. (WHAS11) - - Thousands of workers and volunteers are rebuilding southern Indiana towns devastated by the March 2nd tornadoes. But, a new problem is emerging, one that can’t be fixed with a hammer and nails.

Tornado victims are working through the process of grieving what’s been lost. Project Aftermath crisis counselor Carolyn King says, “I think some of them are getting to the angry stage. They’re frustrated that this is taking so long, they don’t see things being rebuilt as fast, they’re realizing that things aren’t going to be normal again.” 

But, some are stuck reliving the day of the storms over and over again. Sherlene Hamilton was home sick from work when the storm woke her. She laid in her living room while her world collapsed around her. “Windows were imploding, just crashing everywhere around me and I couldn’t get my bearings, I couldn’t get up on my feet to stand up,” she explains, “I thought it was over, being able to talk about it and not break down, but I seem to not be able to.”

King says the long term effects of this storm are just now emerging and some people are doing more than grieving, they’re suffering from post traumatic stress. “If people just keep talking about it over and over, some of that is therapeutic,” she says, “But, if they’re obsessed with it and they really can’t talk about anything else, then that’s a problem.”

The list of specific symptoms is long, anxiety, fear, obsession with that day, nightmares, insomnia, and depression to name a few. But, essentially, it’s characterized by someone who isn’t acting like themselves anymore. Hamilton says, “I just cried, cried all the time. I couldn’t go over home, I couldn’t go over home because every time I went over there, it just tore my heart out.” King says that’s typical of PTSD. “Everyone has a reaction at first, but it’s when it stays and you’re suddenly crying for no reason and some of that’s normal. But, over time, that’s going to be a problem,” she explains.

But, there is hope. Groups like Project Aftermath are working with victims to find them counseling, in some cases for free. They’re making sure victims continue to have the help they need long after the storms have passed. “Just everybody gives you the encouragement to go on and tell you that it will be better someday, it will be alright. You just gotta believe that, you just gotta believe the best and go on,” says Hamilton.

If you, or someone you know, need help, call the Project Aftermath hotline at 1-866-679-4631 or click here to be redirected to the site

 

Print
Email
|