Survivor's guilt syndrome: what to do if you are ashamed to be safe

3.28.2022 0

"I am ashamed to be safe" - a feeling familiar to many people today.

Survivor's guilt syndrome - occurs in those who have experienced or witnessed traumatic events (war, disaster, violence, natural disaster, etc.) and survived unlike others.

Now almost all Ukrainians and all foreigners who follow the events in Ukraine feel the survivor's guilt syndrome. We all compare ourselves with those who are worse off now or with those who have already died. Because of this, we feel pain, grief, anger and shame for being better off than them. This feeling makes us unite and do everything possible not only for our own survival, but for the survival of those who are important to us: family, friends, family, state.

Symptoms of this syndrome:

  • apathy, loss of physical strength;
  • lack of desire to live;
  • obsessive thoughts about what you could have done and did not do;
  • inability to sleep, restless sleep;
  • refusal to eat, nausea;
  • unwillingness to communicate, shame;
  • suicidal thoughts, self-harm;
  • a sense of helplessness, despair, a constant feeling of grief.

In order for the feeling of "guilt" to motivate, and not paralyze, it is worth remembering a few important things:

  1. By saving yourself and your family, you save a part of Ukraine. If you are healthy, well-fed, well-slept and calm, you can bring much more benefit than when you are in a bad condition.
  2. If you feel shame and guilt - determine what you can do to stop feeling them. First of all, it is some kind of real help to others. Write a list of how you can help those who are having a harder time now. Do what you can and know how to do.
  3. Act on the principle of concentration circles: first help your closest people who are near you. Then take care of your loved ones who are far away from you. If they are okay, help those who are nearby - neighbors, friends, those who are in the same shelter with you. If they are okay too, find out what you can do to help in your area - the nearest volunteer center, terrorist defense unit, etc. When there is enough there - help inform the general public in social networks. If each of us starts to care about those around us, we will all be saved.
  4. Remember that you are definitely innocent of what is happening. You are a victim of the situation and a common enemy. Now you may be very angry at the situation, at the enemy, at life in general. This is normal. To prevent this anger from being poured out on your loved ones, find a safe way out - shout, wave your hands, stomp your feet, beat something soft. Let stress hormones do their job. You will feel better and you will be able to think more rationally and calmly. It is the same with tears. Pent-up emotions create health problems for us, and this is definitely not what we need now.
  5. Everything you can do and do is important. Nothing is too much or too small. Any business, even if it is just sweeping your apartment, will, firstly, give you a sense of control over at least something, secondly, take you away from anxiety, and thirdly, give you a sense of improvement in one small place, and this is very supportive.

Communicate with others. Now we all have a feeling of shame and guilt, and the more we talk about it, the easier we will survive it. We are all living people with different feelings and vulnerabilities. We are all afraid and angry now. We are all hurting. Shared feelings are much easier than when we experience them alone. So share them.