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Class can help those experiencing trauma

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The Tornado of June 17, 2010 is over. The Long-term recovery organization has disbanded. The school is rebuilt, new trees planted and rooted, roofs replaced, and life is back to "normal" in Wadena.

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The chance of a disaster of this level recurring in our town is 1 in 100,000. Then why do some of us who survived this natural catastrophe still feel fearful at the sound of the tornado drill, the sight of a sky full of dark looming clouds that have a yellow-green hue or the musty smell of old shingles? Why is it that some of us still struggle to get back to work, rebuild our business and make ends meet? Is it just me feeling this way or are others in my community having heart palpitations, emotional numbness or nausea when something reminds them of June 17, 2010?

We define these feelings as "trauma," which is a natural response to a stressful event.

It is difficult enough to deal with the feelings following an event like a destructive tornado without adding the concern and worry about why we are feeling this way and whether this is "normal" or not, and if these uncomfortable feelings will ever go away.

Different people react differently to similar events. One person can experience the event as traumatic while another may not suffer any short- or long-term concerns. The response to a natural disaster, car accident, injury or a combat experience does not reflect a person's character, gender, intelligence or spirituality. In reality, no one knows why I may shudder at the sight of the Wadena Fairgrounds while my neighbors appear to have moved on without another thought about that day 18 months ago.

As a survivor of several traumatic events in my life, I was able to use those situations to learn about new ways to live, develop new tools and support systems, and keep those disturbing feelings to a minimum.

Actually, these tools became so essential to me that I learned them well enough to help others use them in their lives.

If you are still struggling with uncomfortable feelings that relate back to the 2010 Wadena tornado or some other traumatic event in your life, and want to learn to develop tools and support systems to help you through them, join me for a free training scheduled from 5-9 p.m. on March 4, 5, 6 and 7. We will meet at Tri-County Health Care to develop a plan that will help you feel better about the June 2010 anniversary, how it may have affected your employment and all aspects of your life.

This class, called "WRAP" (Wellness Recovery Action Plan), will be offered by the Mental Health Consumer Survivor Network of Minnesota in partnership with Tri-County Health Care. Funding is provided by the Rural Poverty Fund of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation and the Initiative Foundation. All materials, supper and trainers are provided at no cost to participants. More information regarding the program and how to register will be provided in the coming weeks, or you can contact me by calling 320-491-1401 or e-mailing jode.freyholtz@mhcsn.org.

I am looking forward to meeting you in March 2013.

Jode Freyholtz-London

Statewide Director of Wellness Training and Education for the Mental Health Consumer Survivor Network of Minnesota

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