UNITED STATES—Last week I wrote a column about the shooting that transpired at my Alma Mater, Michigan State University that left 3 students killed and 5 others seriously injured. The mass shooting did strike me in a way that I hadn’t expected. Perhaps it is not just the fact that I am very familiar with the school and the buildings where the shootings transpired, but because my niece is currently a senior at the university. So that stress of worrying about her as the news coverage started to come out was a lot to deal with people. With that said, as a Spartan I think all Spartans united last week, regardless of what part of the country you live in.
We are strong, we are resilient and we plan to get thru this unfathomable situation, but it brings up a question about trauma. How some of us handle trauma and how others navigate thru that grief, sadness, anger, rage and so many emotions that erupt through a period of time. The trauma of that shooting caused me to revisit the time I was robbed at gunpoint nearly 15 years ago. That was trauma that really shook me to the core when it transpired because a safety net that I always felt was shattered.
I think the most difficult trauma for me was dealing with the fact that someone wanted to take my life and they were willing to do it if I didn’t give over my belongings, which was a cellphone and $40. However, that moment of having a gun pointed at your head and one wrong move leading to almost certain death was paralyzing for me. After the incident it took me weeks to understand and process what was happening. People kept asking me questions over and over again, about how I was feeling, what happened? I don’t know people; that was perhaps the most frustrating element that people didn’t allow me to process what was taking place. I needed TIME to process what was taking place and to engage with my emotions.
I was angry, like raging with anger for weeks, then I had extreme anxiety that I never had before. It was something that still lingers with me today. In the past people could walk past me without me flinching. Not today, I sometimes feel those gut reactions where I am just on edge and I react. I guess that is always going to transpire when you suffer a specific trauma. There are things that will trigger you no matter how long the incident occurred to your present life. Trauma doesn’t disappear, but I think many of us would love for it to happen, but in life that’s not the case.
Trauma doesn’t disappear and that’s something I think people fail to realize. Sometimes people just want you to get over it, and that is not how trauma works. You can forget about a particularly traumatizing incident, but at the same time, small triggers like dates, people, specific locations, incidents that happen in a movie or TV will cause a trigger for you that you cannot escape. Can you imagine being in a situation where you are trapped in a room isolated from the rest of the world about an active shooter on a massive campus?
That is what a ton of students on the campus of Michigan State University had to endure nearly a week ago. It is not going to dissipate overnight. This is a trauma that will have lingering effects. Why? You’re going to constantly be reminded of the incident because you’re on that campus. You walk past that building and guess what it is going to be a trigger. The students are going to need time to deal with that fear, grief, terror, anxiety, that loss of security that has impacted their lives in a way that has never transpired. Some people will understand, others will not, the key is not for you to understand, it’s simply for you to be aware that things will be different moving forward and respect the process.
Written By Jason Jones