Written by: Erika DeSchiffart, psychotherapist with Capital Choice Counselling Group.
It would be difficult to find someone who has been not been affected in some way by the Ottawa shooting that occurred on Oct. 22, 2014. This type of event touches on our fundamental sense of safety and security, which is a vital need for all of us if we want to pursue happy and healthy lives.
Thus, it will also be no surprise to us if you are experiencing physical and emotional symptoms from the crisis. Even though the shooting lasted only a short time, the effects can last much longer. Some physical symptoms could include headaches, sweating, fatigue, dizziness, weakness, chills, or increased heart rate. Emotional responses could include sadness, anxiety, irritability, a feeling of powerlessness, anger, fear, or guilt. One of the main signs that you may be having difficulty coping with a crisis is that the activities you used to enjoy no longer interest you, and you find yourself withdrawing from the significant relationships in your life.
Crises do not even need to be as rare as a shooting in Canada; a crisis is anything that exceeds your current ability to cope. You could experience the above symptoms from a death in the family, from abuse, or from a significant life transition. The important thing to remember is that you are not weak if you are experiencing these symptoms from the crisis. In fact, especially from a societal crisis, we all will be experiencing these symptoms to some extent, and it is important to seek support.
This is when crisis intervention can be so vital. Crisis Intervention in a nutshell helps you to identify the resources you have that help you cope, as well as providing the necessary space to process the events that occurred. Often we can forget our available resources, or feel ashamed to use them. These resources can come in the form of family or friends, community resource and mental health centres, or through counselling.
It is a fact of life that we all will encounter situations which exceed our current ability to cope, and that we all will need to ask for help in order to continue to experience wellbeing. Don’t prevent your family and friends from giving you the gift of support. It helps them too. As the Chinese word for crisis is made up of two characters that mean “danger” and “opportunity”, by reaching out for support you can turn away from the danger and towards a transformative opportunity.
If you find what you are experiencing is beyond the scope of your available resources, Capital Choice Counselling Group has trained therapists in the area of Crisis Intervention. They have made it part of their life’s work to help individuals through personal, family, workplace, and societal crises so that they can continue to experience wellbeing. You can reach us at 613-425-4257 or by filling out our “find a counselor form” to book an appointment with a Crisis Intervention counselor nearest to you.