Anxiety and the Disaster in Haiti

Merely Me Health Guide
  • If you are anything like me, watching the news can be an anxiety provoking event. I used to be a news junky, but watching endless stories of violence and the worst case examples of human behavior, began to wear on me. In an attempt to protect my sanity I don't watch much news on TV. Instead, I prefer to read the news so that way I feel that I have more control to digest what I am seeing and reading. Whenever I watch the news on TV I feel bombarded with an avalanche of sensory sounds and images which can be disturbing.

    So when I first found out about the horrific disaster in Haiti I had not seen it on TV but had read about it on-line. And I have to tell you that it was very difficult for me to read. I find that I cannot easily separate myself from the events happening to others. I am like that empath character on the Star Trek series. I feel too much of what I predict others are feeling. Hearing about so much loss and sorrow can feel overwhelming. I can tell with straightforward honesty that researching and writing this article is very hard for me.

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    I am sure you have heard or read some of the news reports about the injured lying in the streets along with the dead. Children's bodies are stacked like cords of wood. Earth movers are being used to bury as many as 10,000 people in a single day. Where there once were buildings and homes, concrete and rubble litter the roads. Some news reports  estimate that there are at least 200,000 dead with 80,000 already buried in mass graves. There are also estimates that as many as two million people are homeless in Haiti. It is being described as Armageddon and one of the worst natural disasters for Haiti in hundreds of years. And it is just absolutely incomprehensible for your mind to wrap around it.

    It makes me imagine what if it was me and my family. I have a son with autism. What on earth would I do for him in such a situation? I have Multiple Sclerosis. How would I fare in such a dire emergency? Things like this make you think, "What if?" Hearing about such grand scale disasters provokes my inner fear that the world is a frightening and unpredictable place. I begin to feel powerless as maybe the next bad thing is just right around the corner. Being human means that you are vulnerable to an uncertain future. Hearing about such a horrible disaster makes one feel that anything is possible and that "anything" can include disaster.

    And if I am feeling anxiety as an individual who has never experienced a natural disaster, imagine what the survivors of Haiti's earthquake must be feeling. I dare say that we cannot begin to imagine their fear. Tonight as we lie safely sleeping in our beds, millions of people in Haiti are homeless and/or grieving over the loss of their loved ones. They might not even have time for grief as they are desperate just to survive until the next day.

    There are simply extremes of human suffering that most of us only hear about. But it is scary nonetheless. What provides comfort? I think the one thing which provides me with the most comfort is the belief that we are resilient. There are so many survivors of a vast variety of disasters, hardship, and terror. I remember working as a young girl in a Jewish bakery. Some of the bakers and salesclerks had tattooed numbers on their arms from being in the Holocaust. I was amazed that these men and women went about their day smiling and feeling joy in everyday circumstances. They had married, had children and went about living their lives. Life goes on for some survivors despite having endured unimaginable circumstances.

  • You see some of the young faces of the victims of the Haiti disaster and you hope that they too can find a way to survive and live a good life despite what has happened. It makes you think that, in an instant, everything you know could change. So why not be grateful for now and what you do have. Bad things are always there peeking around the corner. But there is also good too. You can live your life in constant fear of the unknown or you can relish the moments you have now.

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    My heart goes out to the people of Haiti. My anxiety over an unpredictable world is tempered with the knowledge that there are just some things out of anybody's control. This is where hope takes the leap across the chasm of now and an unseen future.



Published On: January 22, 2010