The anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks may cause anxiety or stress for many Americans, especially those who witnessed the destruction first hand or who lost a loved one.
In this video, psychologist Rosemary Schwartzbard PhD talks about how 9/11 has become an emotional milestone for many people and discusses how people can change the meaning of the day. Dr. Schwartzbard was one of the psychologists on scene at the Pentagon immediately following the events of September 11.
Question 1: What do you remember most about September 11, 2001?
Dr. Schwartzbard: I remember getting a call from a client to cancel that morning at 10 o’clock and telling me. That was my first knowledge of what happened.
We went to the Pentagon that evening. The Pentagon was still burning. There was smoke.
I can still vividly recall that evening. I was at the Pentagon every day for the next week, working with the search and rescue teams, the first responders.
Question 2: In what ways has September 11, 2001 become a mental and emotional milestone for so many people?
Dr. Schwartzbard: The same responses you had at the original event come during anniversaries and often this happens around this time, a couple of weeks before the event and it lasts a couple of weeks after. So it's important for people to realize that ... that people may be feeling a little strange. They may be having a headache or stomach ache or trouble sleeping. They need to ask themselves and wonder why this is happening and understand that it could be an anniversary event and take care of themselves.
We want to remember, but we don’t want to go back and experience the same emotions, so try to stay in the present. Remind yourself that it’s 10 years out, and where you are and what you’re grateful for and try to change the meaning of the day.
Question 3: What can we do to cope with the memories and images that re‐emerge on the anniversary of 9/11?
Dr. Schwartzbard: Pay more attention to their sleep habits, their eating habits. Try to get a little
more exercise. Try to get out and talk to people.
You want to remember. It’s part of your history. It’s part of who you are, but remember from the present. Look back. You can think about it and then let it go.
Question 4: September 11 is an incredibly tragic date on our national calendar. What can we do on the 10th anniversary to help change the meaning of the day?
Dr. Schwartzbard: Go reach out to the people. Go on a hike that you’ve always wanted to do. Think of something you’ve always wanted to do and pinpoint it to that day. Make it special. Actually, I’m invited to a wedding this September 11. People are changing the meaning of the day. People are doing more positive things on that day.
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