Let’s keep talking mental health . . . . We know that flood victims who lost everything have a high likelihood of developing PTSD. But we sometimes forget that first responders and people helping flood victims can also suffer the effects of secondary trauma. We have all seen disturbing images that will be burned into our memories forever. The sad stories we are hearing are making our hearts hurt. The smell of flooded homes is disgusting and no matter how much we will want to forget it, we won’t be able to. The sound of helicopters, sirens and emergency alerts may haunt us for a long time. Many of us have been working nonstop at relief efforts since the minute Harvey hit. We are exhausted. We may have “survivor guilt”. We may feel overwhelmed by the never ending list of people who need help. I know I “hit the wall” this morning. I need a break. I need to “put on my own oxygen mask first” as the saying goes. By taking some breaks we can recharge our batteries and be better able to serve. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We are going to have to rebuild our community and that will take time and effort on all out parts. To avoid compassion fatigue we need to take breaks. We need to give ourselves permission for some self care. I am taking a bit of a break this morning to clean up my own house and go grocery shopping. While that doesn’t sound like fun, it will give me a much needed sense of order in my own life . . . and then I will be back out there this afternoon.

Mary Beth George