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9/11 and Mental Resilience

The day after 9/11 my five-year-old drew pictures that told an unspeakable story. More than a decade later, how has that story affected the mental health of our nation?

Most of us remember exactly where we were standing and what we were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001.

I had just put my 3-month-old down for his morning nap when a friend called and told me to turn on the television. My 5-year-old was by my side when those horrible images flashed across the screen.

The next day in his kindergarten class he drew pictures of the planes and the buildings. He, like many other children across our nation, drew pictures that told an unspeakable story. A story of blue sky and smoke.

Until that day his life was all about the blue sky moments. I wondered how watching those events would affect my son, not to mention the many children and adults whose lives were directly impacted by the events of 9/11.

So as I always do when something isn’t right in my life, I prayed.

I wanted my son to know that the God we worship is all-powerful and good, a loving and healing force in our lives. I wanted him to know that evil is never the winner and is in fact powerless. I wanted him to know that we defeat its claims when we affirm and express love in our lives. When we insist that our mental freedom can’t be hijacked.

These words of wisdom, written by Mary Baker Eddy, informed my reasoning and gave me hope: “Evil is a negation because it is the absence of truth. It is nothing because it is the absence of something.” And, “Every attempt of evil to destroy good is a failure, and only aids in peremptorily punishing the evil-doer” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 186).

Yes, this may not be easy to insist upon. But we have the spiritual strength to do it.

What is known a decade later about the mental health effects after the events of 9/11? According to one psychologist, the story has a more positive conclusion than many mental health practitioners originally predicted.

“The best evidence contradicts early claims that these events had long-lasting negative effects or that watching the events on television inflicted a virtual trauma on the American people. Earlier claims were exaggerated . . . Available evidence now attests to the resiliency of the American people” (After 9/11: The Mental Health Crisis That Never Came”).

Support, love, forgiveness, family, friendship, faith. These are the words used by people to describe the healing that has taken place in their lives post 9/11. You can watch their stories in a 10-year anniversary documentary called  TIME: Portraits of Resilience.

When I think about events in my life that I’d rather not remember, that may have caused stress or mental and physical anguish, I ask God to help me take those images and events and turn them into right ones. Take those memories and reshape them into thoughts that are good-affirming, life-encouraging, progress-promoting. Why? Because that’s the way we live to our highest potential and help others to do the same. And it’s how we see divine Love’s hand in our lives.

You, too, can ask Love to restore those years, as this Bible verse brings out so beautifully:

“I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten” -Joel 2: 25

And if you want to join others in prayer, I've heard Reverend Debbie has planned an "Open Spirit" activity at Edwards Church in Framingham on Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. People from all faith traditions (or none) are invited to attend.

Ingrid lives in Framingham, where she and her husband manage three busy kids, a Lab who's sniffed every trail at Callahan and a ragdoll cat. She blogs on spirituality and health and is also a Christian Science practitioner. You can see more on her website "Breaking Bread" at masshealthblog.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Cynthia Turner September 12, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Thank you Ingrid for a great piece. :)
Ingrid Peschke September 12, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Thanks, Cynthia...so glad you liked it :)

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