Sensitivity to Major Incidents

As I sat in the waiting room this morning before my psychology appointment I noticed the news of Brussels; tragic attacks in which more than 30 people are believed to have been killed at Brussels international airport and a city metro station. (BBC News). Quite a few thoughts popped through my head, but before I had time to acknowledge them it was time for my EMDR appointment.

Next week I’m heading to Belgium for work – I’ll be arriving in Brussels, before moving on to a different part of the country for a conference. A few colleagues and myself will be arriving in Brussels via Eurostar, so… this morning I had a lot to think about in a very short amount of time. I think when you’ve experienced trauma in the past then certain things trigger you in everyday life, when major incidents, such as the devastating events in Belgium this morning, leave you (me) feeling particularly shaken. Some may question this, and understandably, after all I didn’t actually experience the incident, yet I am definitely sensitive to events such as natural disasters and terrorism. I think as humans we empathise and feel sorrow for those who have been effected by such events. It’s natural to think ‘that could have been me.’ 

Emergency

I was asked by my psychologist this morning how major incidents affect me, and I must admit I struggled to answer. It’s horrid when you realise you’ve ‘come to expect’ incidents to happen – and I’m not talking about because I’ve experienced trauma before, I’m thinking more about how, recently, events such as the tragic event in Brussels, have become something which we (I), honestly, expect. Of course I don’t want to expect acts of terrorism to happen, but we are so often reminded to remain vigilant, or to be on alert of such events, and the likelihood that they will happen, that, when they do happen the shock factor, though still shocking and devastating, means the incident is seemingly less unexpected. There is certainly an aspect of me that ‘expected it.’ Which upsets me – what a crap world we live in if that is the case.

I also think, and have acknowledged – and hated – for some time, the fact that I expect bad things to happen to me. I expect something to stop me from enjoying things, I expect bad things to happen, because they have done in the past. I also, and as silly as this sounds, take blame for devastating things when they happen. My mind likes to elaborately piece together ways in which natural disasters, such as earthquakes or tsunami’s, or plane crashes, or any other incidents, are somehow related to me. This may be a thought process such as ‘oh of course that would happen, because I’m due to go there’, or ‘wow, why couldn’t I stop that flood’, or ‘it’s horrible and selfish that I am unable to help those effected.’ Tell me this is stupid, tell me this is unrealistic, but that’s how my mind works. Major incidents resonate with me, they leave me feeling raw and in shock. I feel angry and upset that these things are happening – it’s a horrible sensation/feeling, and sometimes I get completely wiped out by the sense of being overwhelmed.

I’m incredibly sensitive to major incidents, I’m incredibly sensitive to what’s going on in the world around me. Different events affect me in different ways, natural disasters leave me speechless, and feeling as though my heart is being ripped out. (Dramatic?)

I was asked if this belief of ‘it will happen to me’ prevents me from doing certain activities. I think it does; I think it’s so ingrained within my mind and belief system that whenever or whatever I am doing something bad could happen, or will happen – that the thought / feeling is always there in the back of my mind, the feeling of imminent danger, or just the feeling of not being safe / not being able to relax, it’s just always there – I’ve grown used to it, but at times it becomes very heightened. At times I don’t realise that it’s this thought process that is preventing me from doing things. Often I don’t realise, until after I’ve not done something, that past events are preventing me from doing things. However, I think that’s different from actively letting the fear of trauma prevent me from doing daily tasks.

Being sensitive to major incidents definitely impacts upon my daily life, but fortunately major incidents are few and far between. Though, the thought processes of thinking about major incidents seems to be something that’s with me more often than not, and maybe I need to figure out a way to change this?

My thoughts are with those effected by the incidents in both Brussels and Turkey, it is devastating and heartbreaking to think of those who experienced such a horrid act of inhumanity. 

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