The evening before the siege I happened to be watching one of my favourite episodes of the political drama series The West Wing (Noël, episode 10, season 2). Set in the days leading up to Christmas, the episode focuses on Josh Lyman (one of the lead characters) and his coming to terms with having Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Earlier in the season Josh was critically injured by political extremists in an assassination attempt on President Jed Bartlet. Once Josh recovered from the physical wounds he seemed to be fine, but in this episode we observe the process of Josh exhibiting symptoms of what turns out to be PTSD.
Fortunately his friends see that something isn’t right and seek assistance from mental health professionals. They are able to work with Josh and bring his emotional suffering to light, make a diagnosis and enable the healing process to begin.
Here are four brief points I would like to apply from this episode combined with my own experience of coping with distressing events:
1. It is always OK to share with someone you trust how you are feeling in the aftermath of a tragic event, regardless of whether you are personally involved or are 10,000 miles away (as was the case with me when the 9/11 attacks triggered me to have a panic attack