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April 20th is the 20th Anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School.  The anniversary of any loss or traumatic event can bring back memories that stir up emotions again.  People may experience a variety of feelings and reactions.  Renewed feelings of fear, sadness, and anxiety are common. Feelings of embarrassment are common for some people because they think they should “be over it” by now.  Some may have feelings of guilt for being a survivor.  In some cases, new trauma-related symptoms occur, while many others will feel fine.  Remember that you are a unique individual and your feelings and reactions are also unique.  Whether you’re feeling troubled or whether you’re feeling that things are ok—this is normal for you! If you are concerned about your feelings or reactions talk to someone you trust.  Talking to a friend, a family member, doctor or faith leader can help.

Sometimes, when something happens that reminds you of a previous threatening or emotional situation, it can trigger a trauma response. Trauma triggers include sounds, smells or visual things.  The news report of another violent crime, a song you hear, a dream of someone or a flashback memory can be traumatic triggers.  Traumatic triggers can make it seem like you’re right back there, yes, even 20 years later.

Some of the most common reactions to critical situations are:

  • Feeling emotionally “numb”, withdrawn, disconnected or different from others
  • Recurring thoughts or nightmares about the event
  • Trouble sleeping or changes in appetite
  • Being on edge, being easily startled or becoming overly alert
  • Feeling depressed, sad and having low energy
  • Experiencing memory problems
  • Feeling “scattered” and unable to focus
  • Feeling irritable, easily agitated, or angry and resentful
  • Spontaneously crying, feeling a sense of despair and hopelessness

Take Care of Yourself during Difficult Times

  • Regular exercise is the most important anti-stressor. Be active — take a walk, ride your bike, get out in the fresh air.
  • Move, stretch, and breathe! Eat healthy and nutritious meals. Keep regular meal times. 
  • Connect with others…spend time with supportive friends and family.
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol, drugs and caffeine.
  • Find a serene place of your own — even if it’s just a comfortable chair in a corner. Try meditation or yoga to help you relax.
  • Admit what is bothering you. Talk about it openly with someone you trust…a friend, family member, personal physician, leader in your faith community.
  • Remember that children may be worrying too…reassure them, spend time together. Hugs help!
  • Do something you enjoy every day.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Pare down your to-do list, prioritize.
  • Spend time in nature…it’s a beautiful time of year in Colorado!

Seek help, if you are concerned about your feelings or reactions or about a friend, member of your family.  You can call us at Jefferson Center, 303 425-0300. Jefferson Center is a partner in the statewide crisis network called Colorado Crisis Services available for any mental health, substance use or emotional crisis, 24/7. Call 1-844-493-8255 or Text TALK to 38255 to access Colorado Crisis Services.