COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The proximity of the mass shooting in Dayton could have you paying a little more attention to the news and wondering if you know anyone who was affected by the crime. According to Ohio State University mental health professional Dr. Kenneth Yeager, you could be subjecting yourself to being traumatized.
“Mass shootings have been kind of distant from Ohio up to this point. So they’ve been kind of theoretical,” said Yeager. “When you have one in your back yard they become reality.”
From watching people crying to seeing graphic images, to hearing how something needs to be done, can affect the way you see the world. People can become anxious or overwhelmed with the information.
“The idea is to understand what you’re seeing and what you’re feeling is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation,” said Yeager
Yeager suggests when tragic events begin, take a toll on your personal outlook on life or society. You should have a discussion with your family or loved ones.
“How are you responding, what are your fears, what’s going on?” said Yeager. “Then work in some things just like you would fire drills into your house.”
Talking over what would happen if you were at the store or in public and an active shooter situation happened, how would you react? Yeager says the conversations need to be very matter of fact to give you a sense of knowledge about what to do in a difficult circumstance.
“That does a lot to take away that traumatizing edge,” Yeager emphasized.
Further, Yeager suggests that it is okay to consume the information, but it is important to not let the information consume you. Getting too much information can overload your senses and that will overload you. Get out and move. Take a walk or get something accomplished like a chore so you can see something from beginning to end. This can give you a sense of accomplishment and control.
“What occurs when you see a trauma, you become hyper-vigilant,” added Yeager. “The reality is that you begin to react to that and the world seems much less safe place.”
Categorize the anxiety or uneasiness that you are experiencing through conversation. This will help you have a normal anxious response. An easy tool to help sort out responses to events is ABCD.
What is the ACTION or the trigger for the trauma? What is the BEHAVIOR in response to that trigger? Next is what are the CONSEQUENCES of your thinking this way. At this point, you ask yourself two key questions. Is it real, and reasonable to have this thinking? The final question is what can you DO the next time to help manage any anxiety.
This leads to focusing on the way you talk to yourself.
“What we don’t realize is that we talk to ourselves all day long every day,” said Yeager.
Be sure not to talk harshly to yourself. Instead of using negative phrases like, “My feelings are stupid,” or “I shouldn’t feel this way.” Helping you talk to yourself like you would talk to a peer will lower your anxiety, according to Yeager.
Kenneth Yeager recently received a $2.1 million grant to help with trauma recovery for crime victims at OSU’s Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program.