In September 2013, many of us on Colorado’s Front Range and nearby mountain towns experienced a flood we will always remember. As the rain came down, little did we know the impending impact on our lives and our communities. We saw the stream waters rise, the streets flood, and damage to our homes and businesses.
Being active in the Boulder community, I’ve spoken to many people who now get “triggered” when it rains, especially with the monsoons we’ve gotten in the past month. Most of what I’ve heard is fear that floods will happen again. People talk about their hearts racing, flashbacks, sleep disruptions and more.
Resilience in the Face of the Flood Tragedy
In addition to the challenges, we also saw the resilience of the human spirit as our communities came together as we worked on cleaning up the devastation. While helping a friend, I experienced strangers coming to her door to see if she needed help. They came back and brought food, fans and a caring smile.
Self Help for Treating Flood Related Trauma
I’m often asked what people can do feel “normal” again. Some suggestions to connect to your own resilience:
- Exercise is important. It helps release brain chemicals that will help you feel better.
- Eat well: whole grains, protein, fruits and vegetables.While sugar can provide temporary relief, it alters your blood sugar and makes things worse after the initial relief.
- Expose yourself to natural light. If you can’t go outside, sit by a window.
- Get support from family and friends.
- Get professional help if needed. Therapy, including Brainspotting, can help.
Therapy for Treating Flood Related Trauma
I recently treated a client who went through the flood while her husband was out of town. She was left alone to care for three young children. As a result of the flood, she had a number of lingering symptoms. She felt:
- Sleep deprived
She was experiencing flood flashbacks and felt very out of control. This level of anxiety was driving her to question everything in her life.
We began using Brainspotting to deactivate the trauma, but leave the memories intact. The key is to remember traumatic events without reliving the experience emotionally. After just one session of Brainspotting, her flashbacks went away, her sleep increased, and she was less anxious. She was no longer depressed and overwhelmed and was able to look at her life more clearly.
It’s OK to struggle with uncomfortable feelings, especially when events like heavy rain storms occur. It’s also OK to seek professional help. As a result of the trauma, some people feel on edge all the time. Other people are blindsided by powerful emotions and physical symptoms triggered when it rains.
If you want help working through your flood experience, call me at (303) 444-2003 to schedule an appointment.