Experts offer advice on how to ring in the New Year while living with PTSD

“What happens with PTSD is that the brain starts responding differently to things which are normal, everyday things,” Dr. Harry Croft said.

It’s hard to imagine moving forward without the ones we love the most -- that’s the reality for 21 families in Uvalde.

“They’re going through something they’ve never had to go through before,” Mary Beth Fisk, executive director of the Ecumenical Center said.

Eva Mireles’ daughter Adalynn shared a video from last year’s celebration with her mom. She wrote in part, “tomorrow is the start of the first year I do not have you with me.”

Amerie Jo Garza’s mom Kimberly Garcia shared this sentiment, “there’s no coming into a New Year, not without you sweet girl.”

Gloria Cazares wonders how to go into 2023 without being able to hold, touch, see or hear her daughter Jackie.

Meanwhile, Lexi Rubio’s mom Kimberly echoed those same words. She promised to stay forever in 2022.

But for survivors like Caitlyne Gonzales, her mom will be watching her closely. She wrote she’ll be sure to have noise-canceling headphones for the fireworks so her daughter’s PTSD doesn’t flare.

“This is just New Year’s Eve. This is not being back in a combat situation or an assault situation,” Dr. Harry Croft said. “This is here. This is now.”

Dr. Croft is a PTSD expert. He said it’s important to prepare for all of the sensory triggers like sights, smells, and sound but also be prepared in ways to combat those things.

“You talk to yourself about I’m going to be experiencing these things and try to help yourself blunt the startle response,” Croft said.

Mary Beth Fisk has worked for months in Uvalde as the director of the Uvalde Together Resiliency Center. She said families should have a plan for New Year’s Eve.

“Be honest with the children. But as the adult, make sure that you’re putting protective factors in for them,” Fisk said.

She explained headphones or staying inside can help dull the loud sounds, but it’s also important to create a safe space.

“Look at the ways that you feel, that you can feel safe together and you can comfort each other,” Fisk said.

Fisk and Croft also insist that seeking professional help is going to be vital in treating PTSD long term.

“This doesn’t go away generally on its own. And so getting treatment and treatment doesn’t necessarily mean taking a pill. It could be talking therapy and learning how to deal with these. It’s life experiences in a different way,” Dr. Croft said.

“It’s very important to seek professional help in working through that. There definitely can be strides made, but reaching out to a professional, licensed counselor in the state of Texas...would be critically important,” Fisk said.

Equally as important, it’s key to be a good supporter of your loved one experiencing PTSD.

Let that person know you’re there for them and that it’s okay not to be okay.

About the Authors

Leigh Waldman is an investigative reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.

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