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5 Tips For Coping With 9/11 Anniversary Anxiety

September 11 Attack Flag of Honor at Twin Towers Site

The September 11 Flag of Honor, with the names of those killed on that tragic day.

The anniversary of 9/11 always makes me anxious.  It isn’t because I was in New York on that day, though.  I was in the maternity ward.

I had just had my first child, my fabulous boy Jackson, a couple of days before, and I was in the hospital nursery checking to see if we could go home that day when my husband walked in and told me America was being attacked.

I wrote about that awful day — one mixed with the joy of bringing my baby home and the deep despair over those who had lost their lives in the 9/11 attack — on my blog:

I remember begging the nurses in the nursery to get hold of the pediatrician who would decide if my son could be released and get whatever approval we needed so we could get out of there. Threatening them that I was leaving and taking my baby with me, with or without their permission. I remember going back to my room to throw my things in a bag and seeing the second tower collapse on TV, while my husband was relaying that the first tower had already gone down. I remember bundling Jack up in his Piedmont Hospital onesie and a random blanket,with no time to dress him in the adorable “going home” outfit I’d so carefully picked out for him from Baby Gap as I had planned. The shirt from that outfit, never worn, featured, ironically, a little blue shirt with two airplanes doing loop-de-loops.

It’s weird that every year when we celebrate Jack’s birthday, as we will be doing tomorrow, we also see so many remembrances of one of our country’s most tragic days.  I know I’m not the only one that feels sadness or anxiety around this.  I’m sure many people — whether they are firefighters and police and their families, or military families, or New York citizens or Pentagon workers, or friends and family of those who died, or Americans who were deeply hurt by those awful events — feel at least some sense of unease.

Such feelings are not abnormal.  According to Everyday Health, “Psychological experts say ‘anniversary anxiety’ is a normal response to any sort of trauma, but may be especially intense when it relates to a catastrophe as devastating as the 9/11 terrorist attacks.”

Roxanne Cohen Silver, PhD, who has been researching psychological responses to 9/11 for the past decade, shared her tips with Everyday Health on how to get through the 10th anniversary:

  • Limit media. Skip TV newscasts and skim related headlines rather than immersing yourself in every story. Don’t click on video replays or photos that are bound to stir up painful memories.

  • Do good. Instead of spending the day glued to the TV, perform community service to mark the anniversary, which can help you turn the tragedy into something more positive.

  • Reflect. Use the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 as a reason to review what you’ve learned — and how much you’ve grown — during the decade …

  • Don’t compare. Your grief trajectory is unlike anyone else’s, so don’t feel guilty about struggling with anniversary anxiety while those around you seem to sail through. Allow yourself to feel any emotion that bubbles up.

  • Seek help. If feelings about 9/11 overwhelm you on a regular basis or your heightened emotions don’t subside soon after the anniversary passes, it’s possible you’re suffering from prolonged grief disorder … consider getting professional help from a licensed therapist or clergy who has special training in grief counseling.

  • I think I’ll definitely keep the TV off on 9/11.

    Babble wants to know: Where were you on September 11, 2001?

     

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