Let me start here first. After each one of these things happened I found out by someone posting a photo on facebook since I don't watch or read the news. Each time it grabbed my attention and each time it grabbed me by my heart and destroyed my hopes and dreams. It felt like a rifle shot into my stomach. Drowning in sorrow and disbelief. How on earth could someone or some group be so awful to other human beings. Why? Why? Why? Is always the knee jerk reaction followed by what can I do to protect myself and my family. This is where the downward spiral begins for me.
To be safe my GUT tells me to do the following before my coping skill set comes into the picture: We shouldn't travel by plane or train ever again. We shouldn't walk in open areas with windows higher than where we stand. We shouldn't attend the theater or concert. We can't send our kids to school. Malls for sure should be avoided, roads too. Universities are not safe. So I guess if we just stay in our house we will be safe.....But then again we have wireless things, microwaves, cell phones so that means radiation is everywhere in my house. We occasionally use plastic containers or bottled water so they puts at risk of cancer, we have a CO2 detector and smoke alarm but what if that malfunctions. For someone like me with a predisposition for anxiety that is only the beginning of my list.
Well I can tell you this for starters. I sucked at coping for many years. I would catch wind of something along these lines and literally couldn't drop it from my brain. I would want to pull my kids from school and honestly it is only because my husband insisted not to and I knew deep down that I didn't want them to have the same anxiety about things that I do that I didn't after any one of these things have happened above. I honestly get scared to live my life. I see or hear about these things and I don't want anything taken away from me or my time with my family.
How do I cope?
This is what works for me because what I was doing before: going to therapy, exercise, and taking Zoloft but that wasn't helping enough. I have no interest in other medication. So I decided to retrain my brain to focus on whatever good I can think of.
Step 1: I find the silver lining. In the instances above it did not come easy. Nor had I developed this skill set yet for most of the attacks in the title. Some of these things like the Paris shootings in the theater freaked me out for weeks because I didn't have a plan in my mind to help me cope. After any one of these attacks prior to Las Vegas I didn't want to go anywhere. I was terrified. So what is it that I tell myself to help me get back out the door of my house and into the world after I am so scared.
In my head I literally say internally to myself, "This is a reminder to live you life to the fullest each and every single day because tomorrow is not a guarantee for any of us."
Step 2. Make myself get back out into the world while repeating step 1 in your head. I do things with my family. I do things I find fulfilling because if tomorrow is the day I land in the hospital for god only knows how long or something unpredicted happens to me. I want to know that I did it all while I could. I want to have no regrets that I didn't live my life to the fullest because I was too scared to try and too worried about what others might say.
Step 3. I get busy chasing my dreams or working on projects that I love because life is a lot better when you are focusing on infinite possibilities rather than infinite things that could go wrong. My blog titled "Take a look in the Mirror" really dives into this strategy more.
This is what works for me. I have struggled with anxiety for years but this really seems to help me get back on track. I'm not perfect. The fears still hit me like everyone else.
Good luck in finding your way back into the world. Hopefully one of these strategies might help take the edge off your own fears.