I wondered how the rest of New York City and surrounding areas were feeling. What's the mood out there? So I asked on Facebook and Twitter, and I talked to people, and here's what they said.
all the words: the bigger the word, the more people said it
"Tired" is the predominant feeling--represented by the largest type in this word cloud (I collapsed synonyms like "exhausted" into it, as with others). This tiredness is a tiredness that seems to go on and on, for those hit hardest and for those barely impacted. Most of us are tired.
Curiously, no one said they feel angry. They're frustrated and annoyed, resentful and cranky, but what about angry? Anger takes energy, and when you're exhausted, it's not easy to be angry.
Along with feeling exhausted, depressed, and worried, unmotivated and annoyed, many people are also feeling grateful and lucky--for not losing their homes or for just being alive in the midst of loss. Many feel hopeful. Several said they feel empathetic for those who are suffering.
just the "up" words
Despite some optimistic feelings, comments and conversations revealed a sense of surprise and discomfort with the post-Sandy mood. "It scares me how unmotivated I've become after Sandy," said one commenter. "I've been unusually tired," said another. "Strangely depressed," said another. People aren't feeling like themselves. It's as if we've been knocked out of our selves and turned into other, wearier, sadder people. This is true for those hit hard by Sandy, and for those barely touched. We're all impacted to some extent.
Many people said they felt guilty. Survivor guilt is a common occurrence "when a person perceives themselves to have done wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not."
A number of people expressed worry about continuing climate change and future problems. (Interestingly, squirrels and nuts came up a few times. Some discussed the abundance of acorns and the bushiness of squirrel tails and their relation to the climate. One commenter feels like a squirrel herself, saying it seems like "I need to collect a lot of nuts for a winter with no definite end." Of course, it makes sense that a destructive hurricane and a coming winter would make people concerned with the business of gathering and nesting.)
just the "down" words (some could go either way)
I keep thinking about the days and weeks after 9/11, how anxious I felt, and how anxious the city felt around me. We were mostly worried then. An exploding manhole cover could send pedestrians screaming "terrorists!" We were vigilant and jumpy, waiting for the next shoe to drop. But Sandy isn't goosing our anxiety in the same way. Mostly, she's bringing us down.
If you're feeling hopeless and sad, guilty and grieving, if you're thinking about hurting yourself, please talk to a friend and reach out to a professional. (Call 911 in an emergency.) As you can see, you are not alone in your feelings. And help is out there.
- If you don't have a therapist, find one near you on Psychology Today. You can also call your neighborhood clinic.
- The Mental Health Association of New York City has an excellent post-Sandy resource page on their website.
- Call 1-800-LIFENET for more resources in your area.
- Dial the national Disaster Distress Hotline: 1-800-985-5990.
- Samaritans is a 24/7 suicide hotline: 212-673-3000.