The 20th Anniversary of 9/11: Reflecting, Remembering, and Recognizing
By Coleen Vanderbeek, Psy.D, LPC
The widespread media coverage of the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks will likely stir up an overabundance of emotions for many of us. While 9/11 is a national tragedy, for those on the east coast (especially NY, NJ, CT, PA, and Washington, D.C.) the impact is most profound.
It was a beautiful, sunny Tuesday in September that changed the landscape of our nation forever. Many educators were settling in for the school day when news about the attacks began to roll in. On this day, teachers became consolers and protectors for children amidst a whirlwind of chaos and confusion, while also navigating through their own fear and trauma. The days and weeks to follow were to be full of moments that most never expected to experience in their lifetime as many of our loved ones simply never returned home.
As we commemorate this anniversary, we will reflect on September 11th as we view images from that day. For some, this can be a healing process, but for others, looking back could be detrimental to their mental health. People with a history of depression and anxiety are more susceptible to distress. Compounded stressors related to the pandemic, the impact of Hurricane Ida, and the evacuation efforts of the end of the war in Afghanistan, pose a greater risk for complex mental health responses.
It is important that we proactively approach this anniversary, by establishing boundaries and setting aside time to care for and respond to the challenging thoughts and feelings that might come up for ourselves and others. For some people, this might mean seeking out the support of a professional to help process their emotions and memories. For others it might mean discussing their experience with a friend or finding some quiet time to independently reflect. We all heal differently, and it is vital that we respect and respond to those differences in a healthy manner.
You are not alone, and you are worthy of recovery.
If you, or a loved one is struggling please reach out to one of the following resources.
· Local medical and/or mental health professionals (including your primary care doctor)
· Friends, family, co-workers, neighbors
· Crisis Text Line — 24/7 crisis counselors available by text. Text CONNECT to 741741.
· National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1–800–273-TALKTrans Lifeline — Support for trans people. (877) 565–8860, www.TransLifeline.org
· SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline at 1–800–985–5990
· SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline texting TalkWithUS to 66746