"Repeated upsetting memories and nightmares of an event; strong, uncomfortable reactions to situations that remind you of an event; feelings of detachment or agitation, anger and irritability; difficulty sleeping; startling easily; hypervigilance; feeling your heart beat in your chest."
These are some of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These are also words and phrases that could be used to describe how many of us have been feeling in the week since the killing of so many children and teachers in Newtown, CT.
There has been, it seems, an almost hysterical feeling in the air as a nation comes to terms with this type of violence. Arguments about gun control, mental health treatment, violent video games, whose fault it is pound into one another and pile on top of one another.
We are agitated. We are frightened. We are angy. We are profoundly sad. And we ultimately, deep down, feel helpless to understand or to act in ways that might be helpful in avoiding another tragic day of this sort. We are not yet resigned. We are not yet desensitized.
As we prepare for our holidays with family and friends we still wish that it had been different, that it had not happened. But we wake up every day and find that it did.
As difficult as it is I think we must continue to remind ourselves that it did happen and that it is not impossible to think about ways as a country and as individuals that we can respond, and we must respond. Our efforts need not be global; they might be as simple as listening more intently to a friend or family member or co-worker, being less impatient the next time we feel frustrated with another, sharing a positive sentiment every single time we are moved to think one.
I wish us all a glimpse of peace and calmness, gratitude and optimism this holiday season. I wish us fortitude and courage, grace and kindness. And we will all, I am sure, count our blessings, for they are many.
5 days ago