I have had my share of natural disasters, but on November 8, 2018 we had the Camp Fire in my area. We watched the flames from our porch, waiting to evacuate and ended up not having to, thankfully. I am a sensitive person and feel everything strongly. During the intensity of the fire, I witnessed some very horrifying events. Many people close to me barely escaped and we were unable to help them. After the fire the air was awful and for three weeks it felt like the end of the world for our community and we had suicides during that time. It wasn’t until Christmas when the fire was over and we visited another region that I was able to snap out of that trauma. It’s almost been three years and we have constant reminders of that time.
Now, I have been diagnosed with PTSD; I use the model regularly and it helps. Ironically I now work with fire crews which is good because it has desensitized me to most fires. The issue is when we have a mega fire that threatens our neighborhood that I have problems. This week we have a fire in the same area as the original campfire. Logically I know that it’s not the same conditions and we are relatively safe (for the moment), but just smelling the smoke and seeing the sky look orange and dark sends me into a panic. I am working on witnessing it, but sometimes I feel overwhelmed and don’t know how to deal other than buffering or taking an anti-anxiety medication. I try to identify the thought behind it and my thought downloads come up with:
the world is going to end
no one is safe
the animals are dying
we are dying
our planet is dying
our weather is broken
we might not make it out next time
I might not be able to help our kids out
we can’t help our pets,
we can’t help anyone
we are running out of water
our wells are running dry
all sorts of irrational thoughts that I can find evidence to prove they are true.
What should I do to address this?