DEAR AMY: I was a lifeguard when a drowning occurred on my watch. I found the little boy, gave CPR and tried to save him. I wasn't able to. It's been about a month since the drowning. My mom, a professional counselor, has taken care of me the whole time and has really helped, but I don't think it's enough. I can't sleep, have trouble eating some days, have anxiety attacks and occasionally have suicidal thoughts. I've told my mother none of those things, for many reasons. We have no health insurance to cover a private counselor. My mom is coping with health issues and a divorce, which my sister is having trouble coping with. My mother recently left her job and is trying for her master's degree in divinity. I don't think it would be fair to have her deal with my issues, especially since I have been coping OK on my own. Not only that, I just don't know how to bring it up. Am I doing the right thing, and, if not, how can I fix it without adding stress to my mom's heavy load?CSDEAR CS: You have been through a severe trauma and are exhibiting signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD affects people who have participated in and survived a serious, emergency situation.
I give you so much credit for trying to handle this on your own, but this is more than you will be able to tackle. Get professional help immediately.
Your mother can be helpful and supportive, but she won't be able to handle this serious situation on her own.
Contact your lifeguard supervisor. Because this happened on the job, he or she should be able to connect you with a counselor at no cost to you.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 800-273-8255. A phone counselor will connect you with a local counseling center.
This tragedy is not your fault. A trained and compassionate professional will help you to deal with the aftermath.