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Overcoming trauma


Here we are sharing an article written by Juggun Kazim published ‘Express Tribune’ on August 14, 2016.

For the past 69 years, Pakistan has been subjected to one horror after another. Whether it’s natural disasters like floods and earthquakes or man-made tragedies like bomb blasts, the end result is that Pakistan bleeds. And by extension, so do you and I.

The attack in Quetta was so frightening and uncalled for that now people are scared to go to hospitals in Lahore and Karachi as well. A whole generation of lawyers wiped out along with so many other innocent lives. Seventy-one  people dead and 112 injured — for what? We all fail to understand.

Then there are children who are going missing in the Punjab. I’m sure there is some exaggeration involved but no one can deny that kids are getting kidnapped. Parents are petrified to take their children to the park or even the grocery store out of fear of having their child snatched away from them in broad daylight. What will happen when schools open? Will all of Punjab start home schooling their children?

One particularly chilling event that happened two weeks ago was so close to home that it really shook my entire family. For past decade or so, my aunt who lives in Karachi has employed a young man called Shehzad, who is now more like a family member than an employee. There was young woman he liked for eight years and had been trying to convince her parents to let them get married. The problem? He is Pakhtun and she was Punjabi, from a village near Multan.

Earlier this year, they finally got married — secretly — and registered their marriage in court. She went to Karachi on the pretext of visiting her aunt and while she was there, broke the news to her family in the village.

The siblings convinced her to come home and get married ‘properly’. They asked for some money and gold from Shehzad, which he was only too happy to provide and the girl, Gulzar, was taken home with her sister. Meanwhile Shehzad departed soon after with a wedding party of about fourteen people, friends and family, to get married and bring her home with everyone’s blessings.

Midway through his bus ride, Shehzad received a phone call that Gulzar, his bride, and her sister had both been murdered by her brother. What saved him from the massacre was my aunt who believing in the safety of numbers, and sent several people with him. The murderer was arrested two days later, but two innocent lives were nonetheless lost in the name of ‘honour’.

You always think these things don’t happen to people like us. But they do. Every single day, thousands people are exposed to some form of trauma or the other. After such traumatic events, most of us go through a series of emotions. Disbelief and denial, anger, guilt, bargaining, depression and acceptance are some of the emotions felt by most of us. These sentiments envelope us completely and can take a very long time to recover from. In fact, some people never do.

These traumatic events have changed our whole outlook on life. Some of us are unable to continue with our jobs. Even keeping up with friends and maintaining one’s marriage can become difficult. What we need to do is understand terror and how it affects us so we can heal independently and then collectively as a nation.

Understand that it is normal to be affected by a terrorising event, especially right after it happens. Talking with other people about the experience and your feelings helps. You should also return to your normal daily activities as soon as you can. These activities will help you feel more in control.

Try to add an activity to your daily routine that you may have thought was a luxury. Taking time out for yourself can help you feel less helpless. Take care of day-to-day problems like bills and groceries as they come up without putting them off. Structure and focus in life helps one to feel more secure.

Get involved in a healthy physical activity. Just being outside may help you feel better. Some people react to loss of control by trying to control everything. Trying to control events and people can lead to more frustration. Let some of the people and events in your life take care of themselves. Finally, do not stay away from people, situations, or places that remind you of the event. The longer you stay away, the harder it will be to go back to them.

There is no way to prevent terror from happening. Terror is the natural result of random, unexpected, traumatic events. The feelings that you have after being terrorised may last a long time. But facing up to your feelings is the first step towards ensuring that you can overcome them. 

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Vision 21 is Pakistan based non-profit, non- party Socio-Political organisation. We work through research and advocacy for developing and improving Human Capital, by focusing on Poverty and Misery Alleviation, Rights Awareness, Human Dignity, Women empowerment and Justice as a right and obligation. We act to promote and actively seek Human well-being and happiness by working side by side with the deprived and have-nots.

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