Cover Photo Drawing: Ezgi Aksoy Emer
On the morning of February 6, we woke up to a day that left us all deeply sad as a country. After the earthquake that took place in Kahramanmaraş and caused the destruction of many buildings in 10 provinces, we suffered tens of thousands of losses, and we continue to live.
Even if we are not someone who has experienced the earthquake; We follow the news and images about the earthquake area most of the day in order to heed the calls for help. Every individual is psychologically or physiologically affected by what is filtered through their past experiences.
Although it is our human need to try to help people in need as much as we can, to be aware of what we are going through, to be informed, to follow; The vast majority of our society is experiencing secondary trauma from the disaster.
As human beings, our reactions to traumatic situations are different for each individual; While some of us take action immediately on the behavioral dimension to help the individuals affected by the earthquake, some of us may seem less or not affected by this situation compared to others. Some of us, on the other hand, may lose our functions in daily life and experience physical symptoms with feelings of sadness, anxiety, fear, and helplessness.
Any reaction to a traumatic event is, in a well-known phrase, “normal response to an abnormal situation.” However, individuals may choose to judge and criticize each other with the effect of being completely “visible” to each other on social media. In order to be able to help each other in the long term, it is very important for everyone to be a little more understanding about this issue by being aware of the existence of these human reactions.
Regardless of the extent to which we feel the social trauma and its effects, the unchanging truth; It is the fact that as a country, we will provide physical, social and psychological assistance to individuals affected by the earthquake for a long time.
At this point, it is possible for a person to offer help to another, only if he/she protects his/her own biopsychosocial health. After the earthquake, the recommendations of many experts to “return to their routine” for individuals and institutions that are not in the earthquake zone but are constantly exposed to news and images throughout the day are necessary for the following reasons.
• A person recovers with his biopsychosocial existence and the relationships he has after difficulties. Because he needs to talk, to make sense of his own feelings and to share them.
• The concept we call social support; In other words, being together with our family, relatives, colleagues, neighbors protects our mental health in the difficult days we live as a society. Because; When we go to work and go about our daily lives, we share our feelings and thoughts with our colleagues. We can organize to help, we can search for different resources. If we are not working, we can also agree and express our feelings when we visit our neighbors. When we go shopping to the market, we talk and share with the people we come in contact with.
• Maintaining our routines is important in terms of maintaining the functionality of the individual even under difficult conditions. We don’t have to make fun of anything or continue our posts as if nothing happened. It is a huge reality that we share pain as a society. However, in order to preserve the meaning within, and not to give up on life and the sense of hope, one should be able to do the actions that will be good for him “at a minimum level”. This can naturally lead to feelings of guilt.
At this point, what should not be overlooked is to realize our emotional needs, to be able to hear what our body is saying, and to remind ourselves that we are trying to protect our mental and physical health at the minimum level.
• Even though we know that it will not be very productive, we can make an effort to continue our working life.
• Even if we don’t feel like it, we can take a walk during the day.
• We can go to visit our family, friend, with the great pain we feel in the middle of our heart.
When these things bother us, we can take a break at work, go back on the walk, and end our visits.
The last thing I want to underline is;
Doing these does not mean forgetting the pain and the realities; Ignoring the people there does not mean being callous.
We are only human and we need “ourselves” for long-term cooperation.
Psychological Counselor Ezgi Aksoy Emer