Oren Helman
Oren Helman
Photo: Pnina Agenyahu
Israeli kids get a little bit of light relief in a bomb shelter

Israelis' invisible mental scars

Analysis: We're used to dismissing it when we hear someone has been treated for anxiety due to rocket sirens, but those people carry the wounds of PTSD, and that's without even mentioning children growing up in constant danger

Oren Helman |
Published: 11.27.19 , 21:47
How many times have we heard that, "as a result of rocket fire, several people were treated for anxiety" during the attacks from Gaza?
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  • How many times have we sighed a sigh of relief and thanked God there were no wounded?
    The truth is, those treated for anxiety are also wounded, some will also carry Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a scar.
    None of us can truly understand what goes on in the very soul of a person, what the consequences are for a kid living in a reality that includes constant rocket sirens, rocket bombardments, live fire, explosions and running to find shelter.
    Israeli kids get a little bit of light relief in a bomb shelter Israeli kids get a little bit of light relief in a bomb shelter
    Israeli kids get a little bit of light relief in a bomb shelter
    (Photo: Moran Ben Dov)
    Nor can we can’t understand what goes on in the mind of a person who has to drive with open windows as to not miss the rocket sirens or is forced to sleep next to a bomb shelter.
    We can't know what it's like to be student who's terrified to go to school, or the parent of such a child, who is surely equally afraid to see their kid leave for school.
    These are people who have no routine in their lives, people who constantly live in a state of unpredictable flux.
    משפחות מרחב מוגן  מקלטים עוטף עזהמשפחות מרחב מוגן  מקלטים עוטף עזה
    Israeli kids near the Gaza border go to sleep in a bomb shelter
    (Photo: Courtesy)
    All this instability can lead to PTSD, accompanied and amplified by a sense of fear, dread and helplessness and a general disruption to that person's way of life.
    In front of our very eyes, we’re seeing an entire generation growing up with a very high chance of PTSD, which is nothing less than a mental disability, but unlike a wheelchair or crutches, it's just not instantly visible.
    -היא פיאסצקי מגוננת על בתה אלה בזמן צבע אדום בטיול במושב גיאה-היא פיאסצקי מגוננת על בתה אלה בזמן צבע אדום בטיול במושב גיאה
    Mother protects her daughter as rocket alarms blare during a trip in the southern moshav of G'ea
    (Photo: Alon Piasetzki)
    Coping with such a disability is hard for both the sufferer and their immediate environment. We regularly see people stay away from, flinch at and even stigmatize people with mental issues.
    There's an unwillingness to integrate them, inability to understand them, and lack of capacity to truly know what they're going through.
    Sometimes we feel it's just too over our heads and as a society tend to ostracize and ignore them.
    הסלמה צבע אדום עוטף עזה מקלטים ממ"ד תושבים אשקלון עוטף עזההסלמה צבע אדום עוטף עזה מקלטים ממ"ד תושבים אשקלון עוטף עזה
    Running to the shelter in Ashkelon
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Imagine if you will, a person who is constantly tired when they get to work, sometimes they are even late - it's an annoying situation that could result their dismissal.
    But if we dig in a little deeper, try to understand what's going on and talk with the worker, or even their family, we may discover they are suffering from trauma due to one of Israel's wars.
    עזה שיגור חגורה שחורה רקטה רקטות אזעקה צבע אדוםעזה שיגור חגורה שחורה רקטה רקטות אזעקה צבע אדום
    Iron Dome intercepts a rocket from Gaza over an Israeli community
    (Photo: AFP)
    Perhaps they are suffering from PTSD and it's causing them to have nightmares. Perhaps that's why they are constantly tired and late? Perhaps they are one of the casualties of Israel's uneasy reality.
    If we look deeper and try to look at the whole picture, we may be able to hold, hug, embrace and help our compatriots, and it's no less than our duty to do so.

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