Four weeks ago, we have suffered a terrible earthquake which has devastated not only our city but also our lives and hearts.
I was only a teen when a similar earthquake, for some strange coincidence in the same day, occurs thirty-two years before (September 19th, 1985). Now, I am mother of two, and the first thing that crossed my mind after this event was: Are my kids alright? As soon as I could I sent a message to the mom’s chat, while my oldest sent me a message telling me he was ok. Due to phone lines dropped it, the only way we could communicate was social networks.
I arrived to my youngest’s school and all the children were expecting to their parents. The teachers and the principal as well as the officers who help outside of the school, in the middle of the chaos, they were trying to manage it.
I picked my son and two of their friends because their mothers could not get to the school at that moment, and then I went to the high school to pick my oldest. Then, I knew this earthquake left several and important damages around the capital, where we live, and some other cities in Mexico. An elementary school fell and many people went there to save children. At other campus of the school where my oldest is studying, also suffered major consequences.
I was afraid. I knew we probably did not know all the consequences. My back started hurting, but I knew it was a sign of stress as I will explain later. I was not sure to leave my children at home, and I also learnt that if you don’t know how to help in the danger zone, it would better to leave the streets empty in order that ambulances, firefighters vehicles and others could arrive to the zone.
As psychologist, I am specialized in stress, anxiety and depression since almost a decade. Then, I knew this event could affect not only to those who were affected directly but also, to many who were affected indirectly, and that means all the rest of the people.
Then, I started to collect all the info I had and put in some easy pieces that people could take just a few moments to read. For instance, how emotions could appear because this situation, how physical reactions can emerge (as my back pain), and most important, how we can thrive over those circumstances.
Soon, I received a comment from a HR manager who said that she appreciated the help, because
She was able to recognize in herself some of the reactions I mentioned, then she understood were normal.
Education is very important for people to understand and manage their anxiety.
Two days later, a professor mentioned one of my posts saying that
To understand the differences between acute stress and post traumatic stress (PTSD) is very important.
As I explained, after a major event like this, people can suffer many stress symptoms up to a month later. After that time, if symptoms do not disappear, then we can suspect the person is suffering PTSD.
I am grateful for all the people that got some relief from the info, as well as my colleagues who helped to make some short videos with easy techniques, such as Diaphragmatic Breathing or EMDR (a powerful therapy in these cases) to help people at the distance. I also did some others explaining Mindfulness Techniques and Lifestyle Suggestions as Good Sleep, that can help people to recovery.
But after several days working many hours at the computer, and carrying things to donate to the people were affected directly, my back kept getting worse. Then, I also realized that I needed to do something for me, then I went to the sports club we used to go, and I did a wonderful dance class that helped me a lot to release all the tension in my muscles because stress and anxiety.
My back pain is gone now, it only needs some attention. I am still working to help people to understand what occurs from a psychological perspective and providing some aids and techniques to relieve stress (which is normal due to the event). Writing is also powerful (at least to me not only at this time but always) because it helps me to put my ideas outside and clear, and I can also help others through this.
No doubt, my anxiety helped me to take action and help others. As stress, I believe you can use anxiety to your favor. I have created a motto based on Albert Einstein’s famous quote saying that:
“Stress as energy, can not be created nor destroyed, it can only be transformed”