Healing Stories: Counselor Faces Huge Anxiety in the Face of Hurricane Irma
It’s not often that we hear the gut wrenching truth from a mental health professional about facing their own anxiety in one of the biggest storms in life.
But that’s what is one of many things that separates David Essel, A number one best-selling author, counselor, life coach and radio host from so many other individuals in this world… Is that he’s willing to share his vulnerable moments as well as his powerful ones.
David is still suffering from the effects of hurricane Irma as this article is being written. He finally found a hotel to stay in after four nights of sleeping in a home without electricity and temperatures reaching 100° every evening. David shares what he believes to be the most important keys in dealing with anxiety in life.
“I’ve been through several hurricanes as I’ve lived in Florida for the last 40 years and everyone of them brings a different type of anxiety. Fear. Unsettledness. But the most recent one, hurricane Irma, affected me in a way I had never experienced it before.
The massive size of the hurricane was one thing that we had to all contend with, and as the news reports leading up to the striking of this hurricane became more prevalent, it was obvious this could be the worst ever. Some people were saying it was four or five times the size of hurricane Andrew that absolutely destroyed many communities around Miami Florida.
I live on the West Coast of Florida, Fort Myers Florida, and we weren’t sure if we are going to get a direct hit or not. In the beginning of the forecast it looked like it was going to go up the East Coast of Florida… But that was to change quickly.
My home is in a flood zone so I had arranged a hotel not far from where I live to take myself and my dog because they have generators. I figured what better place to be than 3 to 4 stories above the ground in a hotel with generators. But on the day we were supposed to move in, Saturday, they closed the hotel. Now what the hell do I do?
I started calling around to realtor friends to see if anyone had a home that I could rent for even a week or two or a month in case the damage from the hurricane was that bad. But no one could find anything for me to jump into at the last minute.
I decided not to evacuate because I knew I had a safe place in the hotel but I had no idea that safe place would be taken from underneath me.
I started to call friends of mine and found one, John Biffar, who was out of town and said I could stay in his condominium which might be a little safer than my house. So I moved in with my dog and sat down to battle what could be the storm of the century.
For the past seven days I had been planning for this. Plenty of food. Water. Flashlights. Everything I could possibly need if it was going to be an extended stay outside of my house.
But then things started to change on the news. It looked like Irma was taking a direction towards Fort Myers and away from Miami. At about 3 o’clock in the afternoon I lost it. Tears started streaming down my face. I was on the ground floor condominium, not far from a major river, and if we did get a direct hit I was Surely going to be flooded out of here as well.
As tears streamed down my face, I looked down and there was my dog Saint looking up at me, I told him that I was human, I was afraid, and we would make it through somehow.
I know, as a counselor, that the most important thing to do with emotions when we’re feeling them is to actually feel them! So I started writing. Journaling. And then I posted on Facebook, something I never do about my personal life, because I knew it was time to do so. There are millions of other people I’m sure that felt the same way I did, but probably were not going to share it in a public setting.
So I posted a very short note on Facebook that this huge wave of anxiety had just passed through me, tears are streaming down my face, I was feeling the effects of a potential direct hit from the hurricane Irma, and it’s OK. This is what we’re supposed to do. When we feel deep anxiety, depression, rage, resentments, we need to feel them, write about them to help process these emotions out of our body
This is not something that men are taught how to do. Many women refuse to express deep emotions as well. But I knew that by posting this on Facebook not only would I be human, because the fear was real, but I might actually help other people to realize it’s OK for them to go deep into their feelings as well.
The outpouring on Facebook was immediate. Many people posted underneath my post that they “were feeling the same thing and thank you for giving them a voice. Thank you for allowing your emotions to touch ours. We are all in this together.”
And this is what I have based my work on for 27 years now. When people come in and they’re going through a life trauma, one of life’s many big storms, addiction, divorce, bankruptcy, extreme weight gain, I help individuals to process their emotions over and over again instead of hiding them, stuffing them, or pretending they’re not there.
The results is instantaneous but you need to keep processing these emotions with the different tools we use on a daily basis in order for them not to get stuck in our bodies, minds and spirits.
My anxiety was well-founded. We did get a direct hit and by the time Irma hit us thank God she was down to a category 2. But as I write this, nine days later, I have moved to a hotel room with air-conditioning awaiting the power to come back on in my life. Every day I write about what I’m actually feeling, being displaced, I’m uncertain of when I can go home. I will survive, thrive and more, and one of the reasons why is because I’m allowing myself to be human, to feel, to process, to heal.”
***When tragedy hits… Americans come together. It’s what we’ve done since the beginning of time. And today, with the combined tragedy of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, is no different. David Essel is a counselor, life coach, best-selling author, radio host and an all faith a minister who has personal experience in the tragedy of hurricanes.
“Unfortunately, I know the devastation of hurricanes on a very personal level. I am now offering, to all of the victims of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, 20 minute phone sessions to help alleviate stress, calm nerves, and anything else I can do.” Says David.
Some of the areas David can help are as followed:
As an all faith minister, David can work with people of all spiritual and or religious backgrounds. Nonreligious people: David will help you with your challenges that have nothing to do with prayer, religion, or spirituality.
“Reach out to your friends and family. Ask professionals in your area for help. The only way to get through these difficult times is to have faith, work as a community and to look for solutions to take care of your immediate needs. I hope I can be part of that solution, and will look forward to helping as many people as I can,” says Essel.
For more for Information on David, visit his website www.davidessel.com