Monday, April 22, 2013

When Rational Thinking Isn't

I wasn't at the Boston Marathon last week, had no family or friend's there, have never been in a bombing or a war, but I know what happens when our lives are at stake, our survival systems kick in.

Our adrenaline gets super pumped up and we go into what is known as the fight, flight or freeze mode.  Have you ever woken up for a nightmare or thought someone was in your room and were absolutely paralyzed by that fear?  Then you have experienced the freeze portion of that.

Some last week went directly into the fight mode as evidenced by all of those heroes that ran into the bombing mess to help instead of running away or those who were terrified, rattled and ran away because that is what their body directed them to do.

I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist, but I have been in some pretty horrible situations where for whatever reason, my fight or flight reaction was to fight, to stay, to help and maybe I did or maybe I didn't, but I can say people are alive because of my reactions.

What I can relate to is what these types of things do to a person and their body.

First, it applies an enormous amount of stress both to the mind and body and no matter how much you want to forget and to erase what you have seen or been through, the mind will bring it up again and again.

It is believed in some strange way that men are more likely to run towards the situation and fight, while women will run away from it. I think it really depends on the person and how their mind works.

I have always ran to and not away from the fight or the situation because as anyone who knows me will attest, I am the one you want on your side in times of chaos and crisis.

But what if I wasn't?  What if I had made different choices over the years and ran, would that make me a different person, would others think less of me?  I don't think so and that is because in these situations we all know our limits and we should not judge another persons limits either.

Not everyone feels they can help due to training or lack of. While some may have training in these situations with so much devastation they may not know how to help or feel that saving their own life is more important.

I hear people's murmering about the runners that heard the bombs, saw what was going on and instead of helping, continued their run to cross the finish line.

I say, stop judging them!  The people who had the strength and determination to run this race and who made it as far as they did were totally spent. Their bodies were exhausted, their minds were just trying to keep them going, all they could think of was cross that line, end the race.

Still someone stated what I think most felt and that was they knew they were not qualified to help, so they got out of the way of those who could!  Kudos to this person for knowing their limits, for knowing others could do a better job of helping and that they would be in the way.

Then there are those who will suffer from guilt. They should not feel guilty and yet they will. Some will feel survivors guilt, why am I here while those people are not.  Some will feel guilt from not helping, some will feel guilt for having their families come to watch them, etc..

I say they should NOT feel guilty as they did nothing wrong. No one in the area of the bombs did anything wrong, they responded to the stress on their body as the body intended it to and they either ran into or ran away from the chaos. No one had any inkling what was to come at the end of that race.

I think of the situations I have been in and the people I have helped and then I think of my son when he was a toddler and lost a part of his finger.  Here I am, the mom, the comforter, the reassuring one...
instead, I was passed out cold on the hospital floor.

You see, I can deal with trauma from others, but my own family the minute I see blood, I panic, I freak out and I will pass out! I think that might be the freeze part of the syndrome

These people are runners, they will get out and run again, they have to, it is who they are, it is woven into them to run, it will help most of them heal, it will help them deal with the pain, the confusion the atrocities they saw.

Others will not do so well, they will suffer from insomnia, over eating or lack of eating, agitation, euphoria and a slew of other symptoms know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Let us pray for all of those involved directly or indirectly and when we read that someone ran away from the noise and chaos or crossed over the finish line let us not judge them or wonder why they didn't turn around to help, because they were in reality, they were truly...

Running for their lives!                 



Celia Ambrose said...

Very well said. Thanks for your thoughts. You are a strong lady from past posts I've read on your blog. God bless you.

pcflamingo said...

I have usually been sort of a cautious person - not a big risk-taker. But when I was pregnant with my son I had the strangest dreams. I was a dare devil, I was a super hero, I would rush in and save the day, I was fearless. I mentioned it to my doctor and she said, "you're the momma bear now and you're protecting your baby."

When watching the race coverage, I too was so amazed to watch some of the runners literally turn on a dime to run back to help. Clearly they must have been the ones with some medical training or abilities.