In recent years the world has been experiencing a massive increase in what is termed natural disasters.
Among these are:
Fire, Drought, Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Mudslides, Snow Storms, Avalanches, Cyclones and Floods.
Disaster Upon Disaster for Aussie Farmers
In Australia over the past few months many areas were in the grip of a long and severe drought. They were struggling to feed their animals. Road trains were transporting feed hay from one side of the country to the other to help out their fellow farmers who were struggling to survive.
Farmers love their cattle and the emotional strain of seeing them waste away for lack of feed is emotionally more than many of them can cope with. The suicide rate among struggling farmers escalated.
To add to the grief already being experienced from the devastating effects of a prolonged drought the fury of mother nature unleashed a record-breaking flood which saw around half million head of cattle and other livestock drowned as they tried to escape the rising water.
Can you just imagine the anguish and pain being experienced by these farmers as they inspect their farms when the flood waters recede enough to reveal the damage.
These animals represent a lifetime of blood, sweat and tears and years of breeding. They were their pride and joy, they love them as if they are family. People unfamiliar with the psyche of a hard-working farmer may not full understand the emotional toll disasters like this can have on the people affected.
People React to Trauma in Different Ways.
Some will walk around in a stupor for days even weeks, unable to pick themselves up again. They will be so traumatized by what they see and feel that they sink into a deep and dark depressive state which could for some end tragically.
Others will go through the normal reaction of shock and grief as they face the reality of what has happened and with good community support and encouragement they will recover from the disaster a stronger person. There is no way of knowing how each individual person will react but it is important to be aware of the impact of such disasters on the emotional and psychological well-being of everyone i impacted.
Other contributing factors might be the financial position they were in prior and whether they were adequately insured ( most farmers do not insure their stock unless they are stud cattle or sheep)
It is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed and walk about in a confused state, struggling to focus on anything else. They may even find themselves breaking into tears frequently, having difficulty sleeping and constantly questioning their own preparedness and whether any of it could have been avoided. Reactions like this are all perfectly normal and to be expected. Most people who go through a severe traumatic event such as flood, fire, tsunami or earthquake will be in a deep sense of shock for several weeks maybe even months.
When It Becomes a Real Concern
There will be some who will be so traumatized that they may not recover. They will need to seek professional help to help them work through all the issues.
Indicators of a serious and more long-lasting depressive illness might be
- Panic attacks, a racing heart, inability to get restful sleep, being breathless, even feeling chest pain real or imagined.
- Thoughts of suicide, giving up and unable to get motivated to do anything
- Excessive guilt and sadness which goes on and on for months.
- Reluctance to try to start over, clean up and rebuild.
- A sense of hopelessness and despair that won’t go away.
- Inability to relate to other people socially, withdrawing from the presence of others, unwilling to talk.
- Uncontrolled outbursts of anger.
If these symptoms appear to be going on longer than the first couple of months it would be wise to seek assistance by talking to a local doctor and rural counselor.
It is important to allow a period for grieving the loss but at some point life has to be picked up and continued on with.
Ways to Help Overcome and Deal With The Trauma.
Allow yourself time to heal
Begin to engage in social activities
Write down or keep a journal of how you are feeling each day.
Talk to others who were affected and work out ways to help each other through the trauma.
Graciously accept the generosity of people wanting to help and supply physical help or meals etc.
Brainstorm with family members to make a list of things to be done and set achievable goals to work through them.
Take regular time away from the devastated environment. Go to the beach, or a movie or visit friends .
Look out for each other and be aware of how other family members and friends are coping.
Try praying and ask for help from God to give you strength to deal with all the concerns.
If you feel you need extra help then contact either of the following:
Beyond Blue has some wonderful resources to assist anyone deals with trauma. See their website.
They have also produced a booklet with some really helpful advice.