Chattanooga counselor, Boston native on bombing aftermath
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - All eyes have been on Boston. Details continue emerging with each passing hour. For many of us, even hundreds of miles away in the Tennessee Valley, the images are emotional to watch.
From the Colorado movie theater massacre, to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and now bombs exploding at the Boston Marathon, over the last several months, we've seen a lot of terrifying scenes unfold in our country.
Local mental health professionals say just because they haven't happened here, doesn't mean we're not affected.
"I think the worst lies we can tell ourselves is just because we weren't there, that means we shouldn't feel hurt or we should just get over it. This pain is real," Mental Health Counselor Edward Doreau said.
Doreau is a Boston native and marathon runner. In 2009, he crossed that same finish line.
"It's an incredible feeling to finish and I think that's why the terrorists probably targeted the finish line. They're going after an American icon," he said.
Shortly after the bombings, Doreau's brother called from Boston to assure him his family and friends were unharmed.
"It was good to hear with the news that my friends who'd run the Boston Marathon were alright," Doreau said.
But he says it's likely even those of us with no ties to Boston are shaken.
"Traumatic incidents of national and global scale, they affect everybody," he said.
He says the first feeling is typically of disbelief, but in the days following, may experience anxiety, nightmares and muscle tension.
"An excessive alertness. When something traumatic happens, we feel shaken up by it and want to be constantly on your guard against something else happening," Doreau said.
He says it's the same reactions he's treated people for following other recent national tragedies.
"I've sat down with clients who've been shaken up by these things and felt very disenfranchised by it," he said.
But, he says we can't let these terrifying scenes change the way we live from day to day. He hopes the Boston Marathon will continue next year.
"Rather let yourself grieve it, and work towards moving on by re-establishing normalcy," he said.
Doreau says the healthiest way to grieve is to talk about it and let your emotions out, and that it's a good idea to take breaks from watching the bombings on the news.
He says for the 21 local runners heading back to the Tennessee Valley from Boston, normal life won't seem normal at first.