Storms can trigger feelings of PTSD related to severe weather

Posted at 6:00 PM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 21:28:26-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — East Nashville homes were damaged in Thursday's severe storms. It's an experience most neighbors know well, but they say that doesn't make cleaning up any easier.

Straight-line winds of 85 mph hit East Nashville, according to the National Weather Service. Most homes survived the night, but many trees did not and some of them damaged homes as they fell.

Trees were downed at nearly every corner of the Shelby Avenue neighborhood, which just meant more to clean up Friday morning. Many woke up early and spent several hours picking up debris and moving it away from the roads.

Neighbors say they knew to expect a storm, but nothing like this. In the past, there was some build-up, but last night all this happened in just minutes.

“We get big storms that just happen, not necessarily tornadoes. It gets kind of scary. It does," said Suzie Dees.

But Thursday's damage was eerily similar to last year's damage of the March 3 tornado that hit Nashville.

“I opened the front door and this was laying there and I said that must have been what that big boom was," said Richard Henry.

Richard Henry said he could set his clock to this spring cleaning every year because it’s another March and another storm. Last year, the tornado took just a few of his shingles. But this year it was more.

“Mother nature’s letting me know she didn’t forget about me," he said.

Dees also told us she knew the feeling well. “I get a little feeling in my stomach like oh no here we go again." she said.

Dr. Cathy Hacker a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder specialist says it’s easier for some to experience those triggers when these storms fall around the same time.

“You’re living with that in your body all the time unless it gets cleared out. Unless you process it," said Dr. Hacker. “When we live through something that is too overwhelming for us to process at the moment, it gets stuck in our brain and in our bodies.”

If looking back triggers anxiety, stress, depression, and isolation, those are all symptoms of PTSD. Dr. Hacker says you could consider getting help, but in the short term, try writing your thoughts down.

“Let your emotions flow. It’s okay.”

Taking words from your mind and putting pen to paper can clear some of those memories you’d rather leave behind. Most importantly, it’s about being in the moment and not reliving the past.

NES has restored power to most homes in East Nashville. Crews are working to repair the remaining lines, so they warn neighbors to avoid these lines if they landed in your yard.