As we slowly start to get back to our normal routines: some physically unharmed, some slowly recovering from broken limbs while some moving past the loss of loved ones, the uncertainty of future will now cease to confuse and worry us. How much loss will businesses face and for how long? How many people will relocate? It might be even harder for those in the helping profession.
How many nurses will go back to work without thinking of the never-ending flow of patients whom they were to treat while fearing for their own lives in the midst of the uncertain yet frequent aftershocks? There are findings that work related trauma exposure does affect the physical and mental health of staff in the medical field. While they take care of others, they forget to take care of themselves. Whatever profession you are in, in a time like this, make time for self care. You may not feel the need now but it will be worth it in the long run.
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I am a nurse working in a hospital in Kathmandu. When the earthquake struck, I was at the hospital. And before I could fully understand what had happened we had patients coming in with various injuries. As is my duty I attended to them. But as the influx of patients has decreased and my time is not occupied with one emergency after another I find myself scared, stressed and worried. The full force of what has happened is finally hitting me and I am afraid it will affect my work. Is there any way I can bounce back from this mindset?
AR: Thousands of people are grateful to nurses like you who have helped save lives after this chaotic destruction. In the process, I doubt many of you have taken time for yourselves feeling the urge to keep helping. One truth is if you do not take care of yourself, you cannot take care of others. It has been a month and as things start toning down, many will start to notice how this incident had changed their lives, and how they think and feel. It is possible to get back to your old self: it just needs a little practice, will and self love.
Multiple exposure to trauma can lead to depression and other health problems. Trauma can give you ongoing stress that can cause difficulty sleeping, concentrating and expressing feelings. First thing to remember is that experiencing trauma feelings is normal, we did have a crisis. It would be strange if you did not feel any different after this life-altering incident.
You may not realise this now but you are a strong person who faced the danger at work and continued to help, you could have left but you stayed with the patients.
Relaxation exercises, having someone to talk to and group therapy, if needed, will help you gain some sense of control. Eat healthy, stay active and try to get enough sleep. Do something you enjoy every day. Hope that it will be okay and think of all the things you are still grateful for.
Many organisations are conducting psychosocial counseling and post trauma support classes, which may also help. Take care of yourself and good luck.
Anjana is a certified mental health rehabilitation technician and has four years of experience in adult mental health in Maine, USA.
Dharara's replica, Om Astha rai
Massive earthquake rattles Nepal (updated), Om Astha Rai
Coming out stronger from a crisis, Anjana Rajbhandary