With the news of the shooting deaths on February 10th of three students in North Carolina who identified as Muslim, a whole host of possible emotions may have been triggered for some of us ranging from anger, disillusionment, shock, fear, sadness, anxiety and/or other intense emotions. This act of violence is hard to fully comprehend.
We want to extend our support and solidarity to the Muslim student community on our own campus, and we extend from afar our support for the three students, Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Yusor's sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, their families and their communities.
These feelings and experiences, and other kinds of personal feelings, experiences and conflicts can add to the level of intensity of emotions that you might already be feeling based on experiences on our campus, in the United States, or in other parts of the world. And, for some of us, it triggers memories of "post 9/11" experiences. Please be assured that it is normal and expected that you might be experiencing a wide range of emotions in the next few days.
As details unfold, we will see repeated references in the media, we will have talks with each other, and we may feel more fatigued and have difficulty concentrating, sleeping, and eating normally. Some of you may find yourselves crying or getting angry more easily. Perhaps after reading this, you might make the connection that your increased anxiety might be connected to this situation.
Please remember, that stressful times require us to be easier on ourselves. It is very important to be extra caring of ourselves and others at this time. Reach out for help -- for yourself, and for others, and extend your help to others. Show an extra dose of caring. Some effective ways of coping might include:
MANAGING OUR EMOTIONS VIA INFORMATION - STAY IN BALANCE
One way people try to gain a sense of control is by gathering information and being knowledgeable about the issues and trying to make sense of things, and finding the reason and answer for "why did this happen". Unfortunately, sometimes having more information can increase stress. It is wise to monitor whether news and excessive social media exposure has a positive or negative impact on you and how much is right for you. The incident is being investigated with possible hate crime elements, and more details will be known soon. Please keep all the facts in balance with the emotions we all are experiencing and remember that we all have different balance points -- sometimes, we just need to listen to each other. All roads lead to being supportive of each other which creates community.
CREATE AND CONNECT WITH A CARING COMMUNITY
- Pay attention to specific needs of race or ethnicity or religious community concerns. This decision may result in a heightened sense of awareness of your racial/ethnic/religious group identities.
- Talk over your concerns with other people in a safe, comfortable environment
- Actively find ways to not be alone: Spend time with friends, family, colleagues, or social groups who are willing/able to listen to you.Even if you do not feel like talking, being with others who are experiencing the same feelings and talking about them can be comforting.
- Participate in campus counseling support services: Many support services are available to provide you with a safe space to share concerns, worries, fears, and/or anxiety with a professional counselor. Walk-in crisis support is offered here at CAPS 10AM-6PM (M-TH) and 10AM-4:00PM (Fri). We have a South-Asian Muslim identified female counselor on our staff. Please ask for Durriya Meer.
- Turn to your spiritual and religious faiths: If you belong to a spiritual or religious community, gathering together for worship, prayer, discussion, a meal or other forms of religious or spiritual expression, can strengthen the bonds of human connections and be a force of comfort in your life.
ASKING FOR HELP
Asking for help can be difficult for some people. Sometimes, it is not an easy step. People often do not like to ask others for help or to involve outsiders with these kinds of difficulties unless there is considerable distress and unhappiness and until after they have tried everything else. But, it takes sound judgment to know when additional help is needed and courage to ask for it.
So don't be afraid to ask for help. If it is hard for you, learn how to ask comfortably, knowing that you have the need, the right, and the inborn ability to do it. Much more often than you think, other people (friends, family and professionals) are more than willing to help provide you with a listening ear.
Article published in February 2015