Survivor’s guilt is a common mental state that many people go through in day to day life. A person who was part of a fatal accident but survived, or faced a situation where many or even a single person did not survive but he or she did! Someone even might have died saving you or worse as you feel responsible for not being able to save someone. If you have these thoughts crossing your mind and troubling you every day, you are suffering from survivor’s guilt.
Today we see many cases of survivor’s guilt. More often we see these cases in soldiers after a war or an operation where they lose a colleague. The guilt feeling is common among fire fighters and even in many cases of road accidents. Today our doctors are facing a new challenge. There are reports of many patients who are mentally shaken as they survived Covid-19 pandemic but were not able to help their loved ones.
Survivor’s guilt is a symptom of ‘Post -Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD)’. However, it is not necessary that someone suffering from PTSD will exhibit survivor’s guilt or vice versa. People who are undergoing anxiety or depression will show elevated signs of survivor’s guilt.
Survivor’s guilt and its impact
Survivor’s guilt affects both your mind and body hence the symptoms are both physical and physiological. Some of these are
Physiological changes that are noticable:
3. Anger outbursts
5. Thinking of the disturbing events over and over again
6. lack of motivation
Common physical changes that might appear are:
2. Decrease/increase of appetite
6. racing heartbeat
7. body tension
Coping with Survivor’s Guilt
Grieve over the loss: If you have lost someone. It helps to unburden yourself either by shedding tears or by sharing the thoughts racing through your mind. Crying does not make you weak. It does more harm than good to keep your thoughts bottled up.
Be grateful: Be thankful for your survival. You can be glad about surviving and still unhappy about losing someone or on someone else’s loss at the same time.
Find support: Look for people or a group around you whosupport your idea of being happy for yourself, and sad for others. Remember you are not the only one feeling this. There are several others in a similar situation and it is normal to feel this way.
Talk to people who care: Do not shut yourself in a room. Try to get back to normal living as soon as possible. Seek the help of your family or friends. Family and friends will always be there in your difficult times.
Mindfulness exercises: Do not leave your mind idle. It is the most dangerous thing in such situations. Try to keep yourself occupied with some constructive activities which you enjoy. Some of these may include reading, writing, dancing, singing, painting, playing outdoor or indoor games or anything you can think of, but you should be an active participant.
Discuss your thought: do not be feel ashamed. Always discuss them wherever you get an opportunity. You will be amazed to see how many people agree with you. All of us have been through such a situation at one point of time in our lives. How we react to it will either making it complex or makes us stronger.
Try to help someone in need: Helping someone in need helps you to overcome the past traumatic events. So, by helping someone you are in turn helping yourself. Never think twice, just do it to know how happy and satisfied such a small act can make you.
Stay fit: Stay in love with yourself, exercise daily, and stay fit.
Covid 19 has struck us all bad. Despite the government’s endeavor to do the best for us, we feel they could have done more. However, do not forget that survivor’s guilt is not only for you. Do not hesitate in seeking medical the advice or taking any medication if needed but only on advice of a doctor. Do not self-medicate or take any medications on the advice of friends or what is in circulation on social media. We at H2F CARE can help. There are several physiological counselors available to guide and help you get out of the situation. Do not hesitate to discuss the matter with us or in a group or even with an individual who can get you this help.