The Second Thanksgiving After Hurricane Sandy

[Note:  “Resources for Clinicians (Part 1)” has been getting a lot of comments.  The comments are from people who are not clinicians.  I’m surprised, surprised in a good way.  You may want to check it out, too].

Last year’s Thanksgiving came in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  Many people were still reeling from the losses caused by the storm.

This year’s Thanksgiving comes more than a year later.   Many, if not most, people have gotten through the worst.

Let’s take a deep breath and enjoy one of our most beloved holidays.  At its heart, Thanksgiving is about “an attitude of gratitude”.

You know what you are thankful for.  Maybe you say it out loud.  Maybe you keep it to yourself.

Do you have time for a quick read?  If so, check out the following:

Thanks to AOL for giving us a place to post decor photos:slide_325289_3115270_free

  When Turkey's on the table laid, 
  And good things I may scan,
  I'm thankful that I wasn't made
  A vegetarian.
A class of third graders were asked to write what they were most thankful for.  Jessica wrote, "I'm thankful I'm not a turkey".
  •  Thanks to “Boys’ Life” for giving us this joke from Danny Z:
  Danny: Why did the cranberries turn red?
  Jake: Beats me.
  Danny: Because they saw the turkey dressing!
  • Thanks to Verses4Cards for giving us “A Child’s Thanksgiving Prayer”:
  Thank you God for all that grows,
  Thank you for the sky's rainbows,
  Thank you for the stars that shine,
  Thank you for these friends of mine,
  Thank you for the moon and sun,
  Thank you God for all you’ve done

Thanks to Sandy Storyline for giving us an account of Belle Harbor Manor evacuees.

Do you have a poem, a joke, or a story  to share? Thoughts on this year’s Thanksgiving?

There is room below to comment, question, or share.  Don’t be shy!


A Tip For Self-Soothing

Do you have trouble calming down? Check out How to Treat Trauma: Helping Trauma Survivors Feel Safe Again.   This easy-to-understand video is by Peter A. Levine, Ph.D.

Want to learn more about what Dr. Levine has to say?  Check out his book,  Waking The Tiger–Healing Trauma:  The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences.

Feeling Safe Again will be a better resource for survivors of Hurricane Sandy and other natural disasters if many people contribute. There is space below for your thoughts, reactions, and/or questions.

Disaster Distress Helpline: A Number Worth Saving!

I cannot write today without mentioning Typhoon Haiyan.  It is hard to put into words my feelings in response to a disaster of this magnitude.

Are you still recovering from Hurricane Sandy?  If so, the tragedy in the Philippines may trigger overwhelming anxiety, nightmares, and other signs of emotional distress.

Do not suffer in silence.  The Disaster Distress Helpline (1-800-985-5990);  TEXT:  “TalkWithUs” to 66746) is available 24 hours a day/seven days a week.  A real person is waiting to talk to you.

I just called 1-800-985-5990.  The following information is current:

Disaster Distress Helpline staff includes people who speak Spanish, Mandarin, and Cantonese as well as English.  If  a caller  speaks another language, staff  will find an interpreter.

For example, Tagalog is the language spoken in the Philippines.  Do you know someone who speaks only Tagalog?

If so, make the initial contact with the Disaster Distress Helpline (1-800-985-5990) for them.  They will be hooked up with someone who can translate from Tagalog to English.

The Mental Health Association of New York City and their partners provide a valuable and inclusive service–not just in times of disaster, but all the time.  I feel grateful for the good they do.

The Sandy Cup of Coffee

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A woman–let’s call her M.–spoke about “the Sandy cup of coffee”.  What is it?

It’s the first hot coffee she had after Hurricane Sandy.  More than a year has passed.  She still feels deep APPRECIATION remembering that one cup of coffee.

Do you have a similar experience?  Does a post-Sandy memory fill you with wonder?

Is it the moment when the lights went on? Something else?

Please share the special moment.  There is room below to leave a comment.

You can “follow” Feeling Safe Again.  Simply sign up below:  Resources will be delivered straight to your Inbox.

What is true for YOU this morning?

What is true for you this morning?  It’s an important question, but one that only YOU can answer.  It’s an important question to ask even if you do not have an answer.

I will tell you what is true for ME this morning:  I do not want to write a post for Feeling Safe Again every day in November.IMG_0818 (2)Thanks to National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), I was encouraged to try.  I wrote seven posts in seven days.  I did not finish the marathon, but I finished a sprint.

Before NaBloPoMo, I did not know I could manage a week of daily posts.  I did not know that I could–at least once!–write a post in an hour.

However, the pace meant putting off things I enjoy.  It meant ignoring a painful wrist, a repetitive stress injury (RSI) caused by too much computer time.  It meant living with a lot  degree of unnecessary pressure.

Do you put unnecessary pressure on yourself?  Do you decide to reach a goal within a certain time?  Is the result unnecessary pressure for yourself?

If so, do you adjust the goal?  Do you extend the time frame?  Do you do a little of both?

Please share.  YOUR experience may help other people.  There is room below to leave a comment.

You can, if you wish, sign up to follow  Feeling Safe Again.  As a follower, resources from Feeling Safe Again will be delivered directly to your Inbox.  Scroll way, way down to follow this blog.

A final note:  I do not know Nicole, but feel that I’ve met her online.  She is a talented Mom and the creator of Champagne To Crayons.  We have different styles, but  we share a belief in making things better.

Nicole believes in using November as a month of thanks.  If you need inspiration to feel an “attitude of gratitude”, check in with Nicole at 28 Days to Celebrate Thanks.

After Hurricane Sandy: A Question For Clinicians


Hurricane Sandy raises important questions for psychologists, social workers, and other mental health professionals. How can we help the people who do not get to our office?

What is your best advice for people struggling with bad dreams, fear, and depression? For people who are self-medicating?

My top suggestion? People affected by Hurricane Sandy should tell their story.

The United States Department of Veteran Affairs has a handout.  It is detailed and soothing.

Some people are not used to talking about themselves. The handout tells them how to.

Its title is “Connecting With Others”. To see it, click the “Handouts for Survivors” link.

Here is my question for you, my fellow clinicians: What is your best tip for people who–more than a year after Hurricane Sandy–are still struggling emotionally? Is telling their story numero uno? Is there a better starting place?

You can “comment, question, and share”. There is a box for this purpose below.

You can also “follow” Feeling Safe Again. As a follower, you will have future posts delivered to your e-mail address.

Be forewarned:  To “follow”,  you have to scroll w-a-a-ay down. I look forward to hearing from you!

Resources for Clinicians (Part 2)

Leave your PC, tablet and smartphone home.

More than a year has passed since Hurricane Sandy.  If you’re a clinician, you may already be treating those affected by the storm.  Another scenario:  You are just now getting calls from survivors.

Either way, you may want to bone up on PTSD.  Why not start with “Resources for Clinicians“?  This June 30, 2013, post focuses on assessment.

Then check out Effective Treatments for PTSD: Practice Guidelines from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, 2nd Edition.  It is an excellent book.

It is edited by Edna B. Foa, Terence M. Keane, Matthew J. Friedman, and Judith A. Cohen.  According to Marsha Linehan PhD, ABPP, Professor and Director–Behavioral Research and Therapy Clinics at the University of Washington, “Foa and her colleagues are the best in the business!”

The book covers assessment and diagnosis, cognitive behavioral therapy,              psychodynamic therapy, or creative therapies, and more. It has separate chapters for work with adults and work with children. It has a separate chapter entitled “School-   Based Treatment for Children and Adolescents”.

Any thoughts about the challenge and satisfaction of  your work?  Why not let others in on what you’re thinking?

There is space below to “comment, question, and share”.  Want updates from Feeling Safe Again delivered fresh to your Inbox?  Click “Follow”.  (It’s way, wa-a-ay down on the page).

Hello, Long Beach

Long Beach is on Long Island’s South Shore.  It is East of New York City.  It was one of the areas most devastated during Hurricane Sandy.

Dark Water:  A Year After Hurricane Sandy” appeared in the New York Times on October 2, 2013.  The article talks very honestly about the struggles of Long Beach residents.  They are re-building their homes, struggling to handle losses and fear of another storm, and trying to decide whether to stay in Long Beach or go elsewhere.

Several comments from outsiders were mean-spirited.  Long Beach residents were understandably hurt and angry:  They spoke up for themselves quite well.

I will not summarize the article and the comments that follow it.  You can read these for yourself.

As often happens, Comments must be made within a certain time frame.  As a result, I was unable to add my comment to the New York Times article.

I am, therefore,  using this space.  Here are some thoughts and feelings I want to share with you, the people of Long Beach:

  • Do not believe for even a minute the mean-spirited comments.
  • Do not believe that they represent how most outsiders think or feel.
  • We find ourselves at a loss for words when we think of your situation.
  • We wonder how we would do if faced with comparable hardships.
  • We are saddened by your losses and by the slow response of FEMA.
  • We are inspired that you keep putting one foot in front of another.
  • We wonder what, if any, help you want from outsiders.
  • We, too, worry about the next natual disaster.
  • We  hope that you will share the lessons learned through your experiences.

There is space below for you to comment, question, or share.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Hurricane Sandy and “The Serenity Prayer”

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are 12-Step Programs.  The Serenity Prayer is a spiritual tool:  It helps members recover from lives that “had become unmanageable” due to drinking and/or drugging.

The Serenity Prayer, however, is not just for alcoholics and drug addicts.  It is for everyone.

Are you still struggling to recover–physically and/or emotionally–from Hurricane Sandy?  If so, have you tried praying?

The Serenity Prayer is easy to memorize and easy to use.  Many people have found it  helpful when they feel overwhelmed.

Your thoughts and feelings, if shared, can help others.  Please leave a comment below.


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Did Hurricane Sandy Affect You Emotionally?

Research on the psychological effect of both natural disasters (e.g., Hurricane Katrina) and man-made disasters (e.g., war) shows the following:  Most people do not experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  However, many people do.

Who will and who will not develop PTSD?  It is hard to predict.

The severity of the trauma, its duration, early life events, and lack of a good support  network are predisposing factors.  First responders as a group  are considered “at risk”.

People whose losses–as viewed by outsiders–are not among the worst may, nonetheless, develop PTSD.  After Hurricane Sandy, news coverage focused on the most dramatic devastation.   People not in the most devastated areas tended to shrug off, minimize, or feel guilty about  their own misery.

Do you need professional help?  First and foremost, trust your gut.

Second, do family and friends–subtly or not so subtly–tell you to go for help?  If so, listen!

Third, there is a screening test on the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (AADA) website.  Go to “Screening for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)”.

The diagnostic process is complex.  Only licensed mental health professionals are qualified to make a diagnosis.  (Some people, by the way, have more than one diagnosis).

I agree with the advice given by AADA.  Take the results of your screening to a health care professional.

Want more information about PTSD?  WebMD has an article.  It is appropriately titled “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”.

This blog will gain in value if you contribute.  Plus, I’d love to hear from you!

There is a  “leave comment” link at the end of this post.   Click and then write in the box with the following heading: “Comment.  Question.  Share”.