As I stood on line at the supermarket dragging a basket that was overloaded with supplies a kind woman behind me suggested that I grab a cart. “You can’t carry all that. Here, take this cart, it’ll be easier.” I looked into her face, and realized that she was right. The line stretched from the self-checkout halfway down the pet aisle, and it was going slowly. People expressed shock and anger as they tossed their food aside and left, or grumbled that they were going to find someone to check them out rather than wait patiently. The helpful woman, on the other hand, had a kindly look upon her face and circles under her eyes. “You look like me…tired,” I said. She agreed that the past few days since hurricane Irene had taken a toll upon her. Everyone in the line suddenly looked up.
“My girlfriends on Facebook are all saying the same thing: that they’re unable to sleep, minds racing, bodies fatigued, feeling extremely out-of-sorts.” Everyone on line nodded. We were all having the same symptoms, even the men in line looked like they just wanted to go back to sleep. I brought up the possibility of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and everyone nodded in agreement. Doctors and experts declared it commonplace after the hurricane in New Orleans; it is entirely possible that residents in NY are suffering the same syndrome.
“We still don’t have power,” declared a few people, toting bags of ice. Other nodded and proclaimed that they just got power back and needed to restock their pantries. I hadn’t had more than eight hours sleep in three days, and said that the only thing that helped one of my friends was to turn off the radio and force herself to catch up on sleep. Closing the windows against the buzz of tree-shredders, lawnmowers, and generators, and ignoring the constant reminders of the hurricane such as downed trees and work crews invading the neighborhood was the best prescription for my friend, so I resolved to do just that: take a holiday from the hurricane. Unfortunately, many residents will be unable to do that for several more days as LIPA continues to restore power to Long Island.
If you feel that you may be suffering PTSD symptoms, you can check online to see if you need to discuss it with your doctor. A link below provides an online test, and the link below it contains a printable version that you can bring to your doctor’s attention. PTSD does not go away, so treat it and yourself with respect in the coming days and be sure to get ample rest. It is unclear if any clinics or groups will be providing counseling in the aftermath of hurricane Irene at this time.