You Are Not Alone: PTSD and Post Traumatic Growth Five Years after MSD's Tragedy
Blog post written by,
Ara Mascarenas, M.S - Registered Intern for Mental health Counselor Licensure
I remember exactly where I was when I heard about the shooting in Parkland back in 2018. I recall driving to church with my mom and friend to pray for those affected by the event as well as to see where we could provide support to the community. The church was loud with silence and sorrow. People were amid trying to wrap their heads around this traumatic event. I saw parents hugging their children with gratitude, children shocked by the reality of the world we live in, and a community coming together to support each other under candlelight. I never forgot how powerless I felt at that moment.
When traumatic events happen to us or those around us it’s hard to process everything that is going on. Trauma is the lasting emotional response that often results from living through a distressing event (“CAMH”, 2023). When people experience a traumatic event, their sense of safety, ability to manage their emotions, and positively navigate their relationships, can be extremely challenging. In fact, trauma can have long-term effects. For example, people might have flashbacks from the event, their relationships might suffer, and their emotions can be unpredictable. Some may experience physical symptoms like muscle tension, fatigue, nausea, migraines and dizziness. Even though most people that experience a traumatic event don’t develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) about 6% of adults in the United States do (“Va.gov”, 2018) and studies show that about 15% to 43% of girls and 14% to 43% of boys go through at least one trauma (“Va.gov”, 2018).
PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that may happen to those who have witnessed or experienced a traumatic event or series of events. According to the American Psychiatric Association people with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear, or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people (“psychiatry.org”, 2023).
Even though this may paint a dark and gloomy picture, overcoming traumatic events is possible. In fact, post-traumatic growth shows us that people can make new and meaningful relationships, develop inner strength, and gain a deeper understanding of life. With proper care, individuals can become resilient, which is the ability to bravely face struggles and adversities by working through them. In other words, facing difficult emotions and refusing to numb or avoid them. It comes without saying that this work is challenging and might feel impossible at times, but nonetheless possible and therapy can certainly facilitate the space for it. A trained therapist specialized in trauma can help you in the process of healing and can give the tools you need to overcome symptoms and thrive.
I was recently interviewed by a High School student on resilience, trauma, and community involvement. During the interview, she asked me what I would say to someone that is going through a difficult time. My answer is simple. You are not alone. There will always be someone who sees you and values you. Whether that be a parent, a therapist, a trusted adult, or a family member. On this five-year anniversary, the world might feel a little heavier and your feelings rawer. No matter where you might be on your recovery journey, be proud of how far you’ve come.
If you need help navigating through this difficult process, please contact Home for Balance at 561.600.1424 and receive a FREE 30 minute phone consult. We are happy to provide you with more information about our services.
Ara Mascarenas, M.S
I am interested in working with children, adolescents, and their families. I am good at establishing a positive therapeutic relationship with clients who are currently struggling with anxiety, depression, and behavioral issues. For more information about working with me and to get a FREE 30-minute phone consult, please call at 954.850.6633 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Services available in English/Spanish and Online.
Trauma. CAMH. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/trauma#:~:text=Trauma%20is%20the%20lasting%20emotional,regulate%20emotions%20and%20navigate%20relationships.
Va.gov: Veterans Affairs. How Common is PTSD in Adults? (2018, September 13). Retrieved February 11, 2023, from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_adults.asp
Va.gov: Veterans Affairs. How Common is PTSD in Children and Teens? Retrieved February 11, 2023 from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treat/specific/ptsd_child_teens.asp
What is posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? Psychiatry.org - What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2023, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd