A few months have passed since Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc across the tri-state area, but that doesn't mean your life has gone back to normal. There's no timeline for when you should "get over" the struggles you have faced. In fact, sometimes anxiety and stress- that comes from losing or having damage done to your home; from having to change schools or other disruptions to your regular routines; or from the economic losses related to any of these effects -manifests a while after the disaster.
There are a few reasons it may take time for you to bounce back. Immediately after a disaster you are working to meet your basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter. Only after those needs have been met, are you able to sort through your feelings. Although the storm was some time ago, you may not have been able to deal with your emotions until very recently.
Another reason you may still be struggling is because of what disaster experts call the end of the "honeymoon phase." While it's certainly not a blissful time, right after a disaster relief workers and volunteers are out in force. When they leave, you may feel alone with your feelings of anxiety and stress.
Keep in mind that you've been through a major event, and it is normal to feel unsettled or worse. When you stop and think about your emotions, you're more likely to understand how they are affecting you. Is stress over finances causing you to sleep poorly? Are you overwhelmed with paperwork from your insurance company? Once you identify your feelings, you can begin to learn how to cope with the difficult emotions.
Everyone copes with traumatic events differently-this is particularly true after natural disasters. One family alone might see a range of reactions: a young child might have nightmares, a parent's worry about finances could lead to anxiety, and a teenager might act out by skipping school. It's difficult to predict how anyone might behave or feel or how long the process of recovery might take.
Even if you've lost everything, after a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy you are likely grateful that you and your family are OK. You may be saying, "It could have been worse." While it's important to be thankful, you shouldn't underestimate your feelings of sadness, fear, and stress after experiencing a disaster. These are natural reactions and should be acknowledged. If you need immediate emotional support or want to talk to a caring counselor about what you're feeling, you can call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 (TTY 1-800-846-8517) or SMS (text "TalkWithUs" to 66746) any time, day or night.