Each issue carries an
Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
(A summary of this month's Youth Update)
No matter how careful you are, unpredictable
violence can enter your life. A friend can be injured or threatened.
You yourself can have a frightening or even life-threatening experience.
How will you handle it? Once the crisis
is past, will you feel the same as you did before? Why does God
let bad things happen to people? This Youth Update wrestles
with these questions.
1. Your heart will remember. Depending
on your personality, you may become depressed or even suicidal.
You may feel guilty. You are likely to experience a wide range of
emotions, often in quick succession.
2. Your body will keep a record.
A registered nurse, interviewed for this Youth Update, reports
tremors, racing heart, rapid breathing, dilated pupils, screaming
and uncontrolled crying as immediate post-trauma symptoms.
People often expect symptoms to appear
only in the victim, but even friends and family can suffer as a
result of a trauma. Insomnia and flashbacks, vulnerability to illness,
long periods of tiredness, depression and feelings of hopelessness
are not uncommon.
Parents should seek professional help for
their teen if these symptoms continue at length. Teenagers should
report these symptoms to them.
3. Reach out. Some teenagers turn
to alcohol and drugs. This is a unhealthy support in times of trauma.
Some schools have formed trauma teams, adults connected with the
school who can spot these and other negative solutions before they
The first step in seeking help is to acknowledge
that you may need it. It is also healthy to look at the trauma you
have experienced with a view to learning from it. If you can learn
from what happened, the legacy can be valuable.
4. Why does God allow bad things?
Whatever happens in your life, it's natural to ask why. Sometimes
the answerto a person of faithis to strengthen you,
to invite you to deeper trust, to invite you to let go of your tendency
We may not know why bad things happen,
but we do know what can happen as a result. One youth minister,
Kitty Murtha, says, "We are God's hands to reach out and hold....If
we develop our faith now, it will be intact and capable of carrying
us through life's catastrophes. Don't wait for something bad to
happen before you pick up the pieces of your faith."
Teenagers from St. Mary Parish in New Albany,
Indiana, previewed the complete manuscript of this edition and asked
these questions. If you would like to preview a future edition in
Youth Updates private online chatroom, contact CarolAnn@franciscanmedia.org
Why do some teens seem capable of dealing
well with trauma and others have such trouble? Is it possible
that some people are "trauma-proof"?
No one is "trauma-proof," but everyone
has a different level of stress tolerance for a variety of
reasons. Some people just hide their stress better, though
that's not always an asset.
I always wonder if it's better to give
people space or to involve myself in their troubles. How do
you know what's bestand when?
What's best for each individual is different,
depending upon that person's personality. Whenever in doubt
as to what you should do, you can always ask the person in
need. Simply offer to be there for him or her. That offer
itself is a great comfort in troubled times.
Some people seem to swallow their feelings
in a time of trauma. Others get angry, even with those who
had nothing to do with their trouble. Can you explain this
difference in people?
Basically, people deal with
their pain in one of two ways: by turning it inward or outward.
Those who turn their pain inward are more prone to depression.
Those who turn their pain outward often lash out at others.
The behaviors you've noticed are the expression of different
coping styles. They are probably rooted in basic personality,
which is an area full of mystery, even for experts.