Here at Heart Rising we have been thinking a lot about the fire survivors who have been highly triggered with the resurgence of fires in Oregon. One of the main stories we have been hearing over the last year is how much unresolved trauma fire survivors have had to endure, and the fear they are experiencing this summer – on a daily basis. We are living in stressful times, with some waiting for the other shoe to drop.
We would like to suggest if you are experiencing symptoms of trauma: free-floating anxiety, unexplained fear, flashbacks, sleeplessness, anger outbursts, persistent sadness, substance abuse or an inability to function, there are things you can do to get help. First, call the Jackson County Mental Health phone number at: 541-774-8200. Or visit the Jackson County Community Long Term Recovery Group site: JCCLTRG.org. This group has specifically been set up to help fire survivors and is supported by or connected to, every major social service agency in the valley. Grants are also being offered to eligible families related to housing. There are two terrific hotlines you can also call. One is 211. It is a resource hotline and has been helpful for people seeking fire recovery services since the fire. There is also a local suicide prevention hotline: (541) 774-8201.
Here are some other tips that can help:
1. Be gentle with yourself.
2. If you can’t resolve issues related to the fire on your own, get help. Asking for help can be a sign of courage. We have had teams of people offering all kinds of help and emotional support for the past year.
3. Set boundaries with people who pressure you to do more or be more than you can be right now.
4. Try and develop a routine that you can follow every day. You may not know what to expect from the environment, but you can know what to expect from yourself.
5. Don’t let anyone “should” on you. You will know when you’re ready to start making major decisions.
6. Keep up with the news—but try not to be hyper-vigilant about it. Maybe “check-in” with the news a couple of times a day and then give yourself a reality check. Ask yourself if you are in any immediate danger. If you are not, try to engage in pastimes that are going to make you feel calmer, safe, enterprising, or fulfilled.
7. And always have a plan for how you will take care of yourself in any given situation.
A woman we were speaking with earlier in the day said her adult son lost everything in the fire. He lost a successful business off 99. And he lost his home. Like many in the valley, he barely made it out alive, with just the clothes on his back. And the losses continue. Many have had to move away from the communities they grew up in and started families in to start new lives elsewhere. And the parents, families, and friends staying behind are devastated and experiencing losses too.
Heart Rising will continue to help individuals, couples and families for the foreseeable future. If you need help, please get in touch with us. Go to: www.HeartRising.org and click on the “Request Help” button. Fill out a form letting us know what you need. If for some reason we cannot fulfill all your needs, we will find the right organization or group that can help. If you can volunteer, your time, your hands-on support for a family or money, you can click the “Offer Help” button too.