A note from Jane: An overwhelming number of people have been directly impacted by the recent natural disasters that are occurring across the world. My longtime friend, Danielle Mercuri, is a LCSW/psychotherapist in Florida who experienced the effects of Irma firsthand. She has graciously offered her wisdom about the reality of the toll that this type of trauma takes on the nervous system, and how to begin the process of healing.
Danielle and Jane have set up special discounted sessions for people who are experiencing the traumatic effects of the natural disasters mentioned here. Please email for additional information or to schedule an appointment:
Hello Friends! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Danielle Mercuri, LCSW, owner of The Journey of Healing, LLC. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in both Florida and Colorado with expertise in Trauma. I am a Certified Traumatologist, Hypnotherapist, and EMDR practitioner.
Trauma is defined as overwhelming demands placed upon the physiological system that result in a profound felt sense of loss of control (International Center for Disaster Resilience.) Some basic reactions that begin as a normal reaction to a traumatic event may end up supporting maladaptive coping strategies and lead to anxiety disorders, depression, and PTSD. Many will feel as though they are experiencing the event currently even though the actual trauma has passed. Hyperarousal and a heightened startle response may occur frequently after the initial incident. Often times a person going through a traumatic incident will attempt to avoid places and people that remind them of the event and may even become numb and/or depressed. A person may not be able to make internal meaning or sense of their lives any longer and feel as though they are not in control.
In light of the recent hurricanes; Harvey, Irma, and Maria and the raging fires in the West and Mid-West; traumatic responses were prevalent. The top 5 major traumas are natural disasters, war, rape, domestic violence, and feeling pain despite being under anesthesia, but not being able to move or tell anyone. It became abundantly clear the devastation that natural disasters cause as I watched Floridians in preparation for Hurricane Irma (after being exposed to the aftermath on television of Hurricane Harvey,) start to panic and feel intense fear. We were all told to get extra water, batteries, board up our windows and gas up our cars. This logically sounds like simple tasks for most of us; however, the intense fear of death of self or a loved one, destruction of our homes, and permanent misplacement paralyzed many. The gas station lines were hours long, only to find that when it was a person’s turn, there was no gas left. The lines to buy water were literally wrapped around city blocks; the grocery stores were bare. This is still before the storm with not a drop of water yet. Some people shared their supplies, but most went into survival mode and unfortunately stole from others, fist fought over the last bottle of water in a store and syphoned gas out of people’s cars. Many made the difficult choice of whether to stay or leave. Many left, only to find that the gridlock was so bad, that they ran out of gas on the highway with their children and pets in the car; stranded on the road with a hurricane headed at them.
Everyone’s feelings of trauma are valid in this situation. There is fight, flight, and freeze as a response to trauma and we do not get to choose which one our brains cling to. It is our reptilian brain that chooses for us. What I do know is that the people that fared the best psychologically, were those who prepared far ahead of time. This is not only for the obvious reasons of having food, water, and basic necessities, but because it gave people a sense of mastery and control over their own circumstance. Although one cannot stop the storm, one fares better psychologically when one has a sense of accomplishing what is within one’s power to control. Another important factor in mental preservation is using mindfulness and relaxation imagery techniques. Many were making sure they exercised to release feel-good endorphins, practiced yoga, meditated, and became aware of their breathing. This helped people to be able to function and feel stable in an unstable situation. There are many techniques to implement in the face of traumatic events.
After the storm: Many people’s power was out for days, 90 degrees in their homes, with no food or water. These were the lucky ones. St. Martin, St. Croix, and the Florida Keys, and many other areas for Irma did not fare well at all. I have been helping people begin the healing process of losing loved ones, having no home to go back to and no resources. There is hope against all hope. Clients are already making marked progress in moving through the feelings of devastation. I recommend that people do not excessively watch the news after a storm; as it can trigger fear symptoms and people can re-experience their own losses as if it were happening all over again. (For this reason, we have purposely chosen not to use photos as a part of this blog posting.)
Then, news that Hurricane Maria was headed straight for Puerto Rico at a category 5. Many fellow therapists kept busy helping Irma survivors, even though their loved ones were hit days ago by Maria still with no word if their family was alive or dead. These therapists fared better due to keeping themselves busy doing work that they loved and helping other people; as that is all they had control over.
If you are experiencing any trauma, please do not go it alone. There is help and resources to function at your optimal level. Please seek out a trauma specialist to help you navigate your healing. There is hope and it always prevails.
Danielle Mercuri, LCSW, is the owner of The Journey of Healing LLC in Tampa, Florida.
Reiki during Pregnancy and Postpartum is timely and impactful. Pregnancy and motherhood are times of rapid change and Reiki is a gentle way to help make all of the changes much more manageable, while keeping you connected to your baby. Reiki is a centuries-old healing art from Japan that uses light touch on, or just above the body, to help facilitate deep relaxation, promote balance, healing and an optimal state of well-being.
Reiki supports women through the on-going physical, emotional and spiritual changes of pregnancy; this process helps to prepare them for childbirth. Many moms-to-be report feeling more centered, rested and grounded after a treatment. This gentle, healing energy can therefore be of great benefit to both the mother and her developing baby. Reiki can safely be used at any stage of pregnancy and in conjunction with conventional medicine and complementary therapies including prenatal massage, prenatal yoga and chiropractic care.
Reiki during early pregnancy relieves many common discomforts such as exhaustion and nausea. Safe and gentle, Reiki will support the mother's body as she grows and changes, and can give relief to lower back pain, tension in the neck and shoulders and insomnia. The common ‘fog’ of pregnancy is often lifted after a Reiki treatment. Relieved of some of the physical and emotional discomforts of pregnancy, the expectant mother will sleep more soundly and will feel more relaxed and connected with her baby.
The Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut conducted tests in a clinical setting during pregnancy involving the use of just the simplest form of Reiki. These studies showed that reiki:
For new mothers, a Reiki treatment offers a safe and supportive space for them to re-orientate to themselves and their bodies after the birth of their baby. The comforting, gentle energy of Reiki helps stimulate and accelerate the body’s own natural healing processes, bringing it back into balance and alignment. As the nature of Reiki is deeply relaxing and calming, it can help to reduce stress and promote sleep.
Reiki can also be used to ease postpartum depression and anxiety. It also promotes physical and emotional healing from a lengthy or traumatic birth. Reiki is also helpful for mothers that have been working through breastfeeding difficulties. It helps ease the stress in both mother and child which promotes many beneficial effects like better milk production and confidence in your ability to nurture your baby and yourself. Reiki can be so relaxing that new moms often drift off to sleep during the session. Baby is welcome to come along for the session too!
***Jane is a Certified Reiki Master Teacher and works with moms and moms-to-be. She is the mother of a beautiful little girl and she compassionately understands both the joys and challenges of pregnancy and motherhood.***
Jane is an intuitive healer and psychic medium. Guest authors contribute from their areas of expertise with a focus on healing and wellness.