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November Article

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day is to honour armed forces members who have served, died, and those who are continuously serving our country during times of war, conflict and peace. Remembrance Day is observed on November 11 every year since the end of the First World War. Poppy is the official symbol of remembrance, and was adopted in 1921. Why poppy? According to the opening lines of the World War I poem “In Flanders Fields” written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in 1919, it refers poppies growing among the graves of war victims in a region of Belgium. This poem is written from the point of view of the fallen soldiers.


In Flanders Fields


In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from falling hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

With Remembrance Day remembering those who served in the armed forces, practical support for the veterans often been criticized, especially on the mental health matter of those who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While we remembered those who died in the line of duty, we also need to remember those veterans who lost to suicide.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder not only happens to veterans. It can happen to anyone who experience traumatic events. For example, car accidents, violence of any forms (bully, rape, harassment, abuse, assault, discrimination, terrorism, war), natural disasters, hospitalization, witness violence, sudden loss of a loved one. Traumatic events often marked by a sense of horror, helplessness, serious injury, or the threat of serious injury or death.


However, not all traumatic events will develop PTSD. Risk factors for developing PTSD includes:

  • Previous trauma

  • Physical pain or injury

  • Having little support

  • Other stressors at the time of the traumatic event

  • Previous anxiety or depression

People have different reactions to traumatic events. Some basic signs of trauma can be shaking, disoriented, not responding to conversation as normally would, withdrawn or not present even when speaking. Anxiety can manifest in other forms, such as nightmares, irritability, poor concentration and mood swings. It can last for days, months, or even years after the actual event occurred. The responses to traumatic event can be physical and emotional/psychological. Physical response may be paleness, headache, fatigue, sweating, racing heartbeat and panic attack. Emotional/Psychological response may be denial, anger, sadness, emotional outburst, fear, shame, numbness, guilt, hopelessness, and often the overwhelming emotions are redirected to family and friends. Thus, trauma not only effect the victim, but also difficult for their loved ones.


PTSD develops when the symptoms of trauma persist or get worse in the weeks and months after the actual traumatic event. And it interferes with a person’s daily life.

Symptoms of PTSD fall into three broad types:

  1. Re-living: flashbacks, nightmares, extreme physical and emotional reactions to the reminders of the event. For instance, guilt, numbness, fear of harm, heart palpitations, uncontrollable shaking, tension headaches.

  2. Avoidance: stay away from places, activities, thoughts or feelings related to the traumatic event, or detached from others.

  3. Increased arousal: overly alert or easily startled, difficulty sleeping, irritability or outbursts of anger, and lack of concentration.


Often times, other symptoms may be present: depression, suicidal thought and feelings, panic attacks, feeling of isolation and not able to complete daily tasks.

Self Help Tips

  • Develop and keep the usual routines

    • Having routines can help in reducing uncertainty and unpredictability. It helps to reduce anxiety

  • Acknowledge the symptoms can be normal, especially right after the traumatic event

    • Most people will experience symptoms of shock and distress after a traumatic event within three months, but sometimes symptoms do not go away. This may due to the severity of the event, seriousness of the threat to life, and history of past trauma. When that happens, it may be a time to consider professional help

  • Recognize your emotions

    • Mood swing is one of the many PTSD symptoms. Be aware of where your feeling comes from and stay calm with that

  • Recognize that you cannot control everything

    • There are lots of things in our life that are not control by us and it will be unfair for us to take up all the responsibilities

  • Recognize that it is not your fault that things happened

    • As a lot of things are not control by us, we are not to take up the blame when that was someone else fault.

  • Seek support from your trusted family members, friends or co-workers, and talk about your experiences and feelings with them

    • Having someone you trust that you can talk to can be very helpful for working through stressful situations or for emotional validation

  • Learn and practice relaxation skills

    • Relaxation exercise can be an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. Deep breathing is also a practice that helps to combat anxiety and stay calm

  • Learn and practice meditation

    • Being mindfulness is about being in touch with and aware of the present moment. When worries and anxiety stuck in our heads, practicing meditation helps to clear our mind and stay in present.

  • Do exercise at least 30 minutes per day on most days of the week

    • Trauma can activate the body’s fight or flight response. Exercise may help mitigate of those effects.

  • Have a balanced lifestyle

    • It is important to keep a balanced diet, avoid alcohol and drugs and sleep for 7-9 hours a night, even though that would be difficult for a person with trauma. Practice it step by step and get professional help if necessary

  • Expressive Writing

    • Writing down your thoughts and feelings may sometimes be a good way to cope with anxiety. Research found that expressive writing results in a number of benefits including improved coping, increased ability to find meaning and reduced tension and anger.

  • Recognize that seeking for professional help is an act of courage and not failure

    • We must remember that it is an act of courage to seek help to care for ourselves. It is always not easy to tell the events again, it takes courage to do that.


“Healing from trauma can also mean strength and joy. The goal of healing is not a papering-over of changes in an effort to preserve or present things as normal. It is to acknowledge and wear your new life – warts, wisdom, and all – with courage”

- Catherine Woodiwiss



“Trauma creates change you don’t choose. Healing is about creating change you DO choose.”

- Michelle Rosenthal

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