The Beirut’s Port explosion happened in August 4, 2020. It is known as the third powerful explosion in the world after Hiroshima August 6, 1945 and Nagasaki August 9, 1945.
The explosion killed at least 200 people and injured around 5,000 others and left more than 300,000 homeless, according to the BBC News.
Most Lebanese who survived this explosion are experiencing a phenomenon called “Survivor’s Guilt”.
According to mentalhealthcenter.org, survivor’s guilt is a psychological condition of someone who witnessed a traumatic event just like the explosion that happened in Beirut. It is feeling guilty because you survived and others did not.
Survivor’s guilt is associated as a serious symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) confirmed by the medical center.
So if you are feeling the following symptoms, then you are processing this psychological condition:
- Flashbacks of the event
- Obsessive thoughts about the event
- Irritability, anger, and a kind of depression
- Feelings of helplessness and disconnection
- Fear and confusion
- Lack of motivation
How Did It Start? #Beginning
In the day of the explosion, at 4:30 pm I was at home after a long day of work, I slept in my mother’s bed where the window is above my head exactly.
At 6:10 pm, I woke up due to the inflated vibration, followed by an extravagant sound of an explosion, together with a very blowing wind that would have broken the glass of the window above my head if it was closed.
These three factors happened within 3 minutes nonstop. My mother ran to me to check if I was okay, tears were in her eyes when she noticed that my sister wasn’t at home. We started calling my sister, but mobile and internet signals were paralyzed.
I went to the balcony where I saw a blend of colored smoke all over the city. People running and screaming as if something big was chasing them. Glass was all over the streets. I ran down the stairs our neighbors were on the stairs out of their house crying.
I panicked more and ran faster to the streets to check if my sister is nearby or the explosion happened nearby. There was no sign of my sister or of the explosion. I just saw buildings cracked and glass everywhere. I ran back home to tell my mother that there was no sign of my sister; she told me she was safe.
We turned on the TV to find out that a catastrophic explosion happened in Beirut’s port, which reached all Lebanon.
Cooping With Guilt #ButWhy
You may feel guilty after a traumatic event although it feels horrible, but it also may be a way to distract yourself from feeling more intense emotions such as grief and loss. In this way you are avoiding more painful emotions.
After experiencing an unexpected and uncontrollable event, you may feel powerless. To regain a sense of control, you may think of ways you could have reduced its impact and feel guilty as a result.
After the Beirut explosion, you may feel that you do not want to see anyone and you’ll become anti-social. In this way the feeling of guilt will flow into your brain because you must be social in order to make sure that no one is harmed during the explosion.
Your brain will start contradicting itself by the things that you should do but you can not do due to the trauma you are living in.
The Tragedic Dream #Middle
It was a Tuesday night, the same night the explosion happened and the same night that I had a dream of our house burning and my mother crying. Thank God it was just a dream.
After a week from the explosion, I realized that I really don’t remember the small details of last week. Where did I go? What did I eat? What did I do?
All of these small details weren’t found in my memory. I only remember the sound of the explosion, the ruined buildings, and the screams, the cries of people. I only remember the ruined hospitals that were full of injured people who were treated on the streets because of the ruins in the hospital and because there wasn’t any space to all people who were injured. Can you even imagine how many people were injured?
I realized that my mind is in a kind of a loop, where everything is repeating. My memory is repeating the traumatic event which happened all time in the past week. I knew that I am in a kind of depression. A depression that I did not realize is happening in a week. I felt that I was out of service for a week.
During this week, I hated myself because I was one of the survivors. I would be angry for no reason; I did not feel like I needed to go out of my house.
I was constantly on my phone checking social media platforms to see how much pain this explosion caused people. I wanted to feel this pain. I wanted to cry, but saying deep down that there would nothing replace the ruins which happened, not even my tears.
I lacked the motivation to write. I became angry at these thoughts. Negative thoughts were rushing through my brain for a whole week. Thinking about very bad things that might happen to me or to the people I love. I felt scared and shattered, confused about what will happen next? Would I continue working towards my goal? Would I stop?
This is how the explosion affected me.
Regain Control of your Feelings #WeAreStrong
- Focus on the external causes of the event and remind yourself that you truly are not responsible.
You are not responsible for the explosion and it is not your fault. Every bad situation is followed by a very positive situation.
- Use Mindfulness techniques such as focusing on your breath and external sounds. As well as feeling fabrics and textures to regain a sense of connection with reality.
This is why it is essential to practice mindfulness in your life. It will teach you patience and how to deal with negative situations and negative thoughts.
- Use your grief as a motivator to engage in meaningful actions such as volunteering, donating to trusted organizations and offering support to others.
As I mentioned before that your mind will start contradicting itself, stop this contradiction because you control your mind not the other way around. There are many trusted NGOs you can volunteer and donate to such as the Lebanese Red Cross.
Let this sadness and anger be in the right place, which is helping others. Don’t just sit there and do nothing. Take action.
- Practice self-care, do things that help you feel calm. Take a bath, read a book or articles, meditate, write in your journal, create art, and listen to soothing music.
When you do the things you love, you may feel guilty also, when this feeling comes on to your mind, remind yourself that this isn’t your fault. The explosion and its consequences are not your fault. You can continue your life normally, it is better for you to do so.
- Try to stick to a daily routine, if you do not have a life routine, start one. Figure out a flexible routine that works for you in these circumstances, and stick with it. You will regain the sense of control you have lost.
Start new habits for example. Start searching for a positive habit and do it every day, you may start with one to figure out what are the other habits that are beneficial to you. In this way you will regain back your life and you will remember your goals. Read more about inhabiting positivism in “Build Your Future Self”
- Accept your feelings, remind yourself that it is normal for you to experience guilt, sadness and fear even if you were not as severely harmed by the events as others.
Take your feelings from a positive point of view. You care for your country; you care for the people, it is so normal to have a sense of humanity in you because you are human.
- Experience and express your feelings in your own way, whether it’s by screaming and crying or being quiet and staying alone.
You can express your feelings in many ways; remember how you dealt with all negative events that happened in your life before.
- Recognize emotional change, this step may be used through your daily life routine.
Recognizing your feelings helps you handling them in the right way. When you are angry for example, the first thing you must realize is the reason you are angry for. In this step you must evaluate the reason from 1 to 5, to see if it deserves your energy or not.
The second thing you do is to measure time. When did the feeling of anger start and when will it end? Measuring time will help you realize your feeling more.
The third step is to find a way to calm you down. Breathing in the case of feeling angry for example.Inhaling deeply and exhaling will help your nerves get steady little by little because of the exchange of Oxygen. Breathing deeply at least 4 times will calm you.
- Keep connected to people. Social support is a key factor in helping people to successfully survive tragedy.
It is OK to reach out to ask others for support or just to spend time with you.
#TheEnd But it's NOT
In the end, I used all of these ways to regain control over my mind and my life. Remember that negative feelings do not last forever. You are the only person who have control over your life, just act right.
No one will ever forget this tragic, it is printed as amemory in our hearts.