Why Anniversaries Can Be Triggering

As I started writing this blog I realized that I was sharing too much. I wanted to discuss anniversary dates, which then led to understanding trauma, secondary trauma & vicarious trauma. I realize the informatIon I want to share was too much & needs to be spread over several blogs. So today I am starting with why anniversary of trauma can be triggering.

Last year when we had the devastating wild fires in Northern California, my husband & I were triggered by the smell of smoke. That morning at 2:30am we were reminded of our house fire 6 1/2 years earlier. We were woken up at 4:20am by our neighbor yelling "FIRE! FIRE!" My husband & neighbor got the kids to safety before the fire had breached the house. Calling 911 was a nightmare. I was put on hold until I was connected to the nearest fire station that is not staff full time over night despite living in a rural area. It was now 4:40pm. The battalion chief arrived at 4:50pm & instructed us to move our cars & let us get important things out of the garage apartment. It was about 5:00am when fire fighters arrived & started fighting the fire. The fire fighters were at our home fighting our complicated structure for 12 hours. We were relieved they saved the garage including the garage apartment. We only had smoke damage there. However, two thirds of the house was gone.

So when I woke to smoke that morning I reached out to my friends who were being evacuated. I checked Facebook at 2:30am & started texting all of my friends who were also posting on Facebook. I knew there was potential for them to be evacuated & I wanted them to know they were welcome to stay with us. I felt helpless as I knew what it was like to lose your home to a house fire & wanted to let my friends know I was there for them. I was also painfully aware that this was more complicated than a house fire but was a devastating wildfire that was out of control.

Now that it has been a year since that devastating 1st week. I think it is important to remember to take care of ourselves. It is very common to be re-triggered on the anniversary of the wildfires or any traumatic event for everyone involved.

I have included some articles about trauma anniversary including ways to take care of ourselves.




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