First Person: Las Vegas Survivor
>> this marks six months since the shooting in Las Vegas but more than half of the people killed, were from California. Shiva Ghaed was one of the tens of thousands country friends there this weekend. She's a clinical psychologist for the Navy. She specializes in trauma. In the wake of the tragedy, she started a support group for survivors. It has met every Monday for six months. As front of our pursed person series, she told us her story. I was invited by some girlfriends from the country skiing, and it was one of their one of my girlfriends birthday. We were close to the front of the stage. The first round of gun fire, went off. He kept singing. Most of us, we noticed it. We wrote it off. He thought it was fireworks. The third round went off. We were crowding in. I could hear and feel the bullets over my head. There was a longer break. The people with me, we decided to run. This is where it gets fuzzy. And remember getting up, and taking the first few steps and singing an enormous pool of blood. It is almost like I blinked out everything else because that is the one thing I remembered. I remember blood running off the turf. I felt like if I fled, I would not move fast enough. I had the worst cottonmouth I could imagine. I felt like I could not read. We crawled behind some food trucks. We were probably among the last of the people to get pulled off the menu. We saw police officers that were screaming get off the ground. Get off the ground now. They were hurting us into the back of the truck. I got separated from the second group of people. Iran into an off-duty LAPD officer. He was talking to a group of us. He said, we have got to run out. Have got to go. Roll under a truck. Roll under whatever you can fit under. I went out with a group. I rolled under a truck. I really felt like this was it. As I laid there on my stomach under the truck, I thought oh my gosh. I'm going to die. I'm going to die under the truck. What I teach my patients to do is, [ Indiscernible ] what I found out later, one of the gentlemen that was next to me, for two weeks, when I talked about it, when I described the experience was, we started running and we were maneuvering off the turf. It did not occur to me, why I kept using that word, maneuvering. He asked me, do you remember all the bodies? Do you remember what you were maneuvering around? Not too long ago, a few weeks ago, he sent a picture. He sent a picture of what we were maneuvering around. That made it more real. I am not trained for combat. I am very well trained for the aftermath of combat. 1% of the population had a doctorate degree for smaller percentage of that or people with psychology degrees. A smaller percentage of those folks, live in San Diego. And even smaller percentage of those folks, specialize in trauma. All those people were specialized, how many like country music? How many of them were at the concert? It occurred to me, because the whole week went by, I did not hear anything about support groups. I realized I might be it. It is not a choice. It did not feel like a choice. It felt like the right thing to do. It felt like the only thing to do. It was an important part of my recovery. I needed my community, as much as they needed me. >> Tomorrow we will hear more about how the support has helped survivors. That first-person feature was produced by Michael Lipton.
It's been six months since a shooter killed 58 people at the root 91 Festival in Las Vegas. Many Californians were among those killed including one woman from San Diego. Yesterday we heard from, psychologist about how she survived and her decision to start a free support group here in San Diego, as part of her first-person serious, she tells us more about that personal group and her recovery. >> The first meeting was seven days after the shooting. That first Monday 42 people showed up. We have met every single weekend we have had anywhere from between fortysomething 260 something people. I really spent the first few weeks just heavy on cycle education, teaching people about trauma, about what was normal, what was expected. Also, I made sure that they understood what could get in the way of recovery. Avoidance is a really serious problem, it's something that people who have experienced trauma really do a lot of and avoidance is the one thing that will sustain and perpetuate systems of anxiety and systems of Parma. Avoidance takes a lot of different forms, avoidance can be sort of the obvious avoiding, talking about something traumatic, but avoidance can also take some of the more subtle trickery or forms like staying super busy, keeping yourself busy, doing things that are productive. So that you don't have to think about something distressing. Also avoiding can be shutting down your feelings. When you engage in avoidance behaviors, whatever form they take. They provide relief. You feel better. When you avoid, it just becomes a negative feedback and it reinforces the belief that going out is dangerous. So, what allows us to have a corrective learning experiences to go back into all of those situations and to reexperience the anxiety, we are not putting ourselves in actually dangerous situations, we are going into places that feel dangerous but are not dangerous. So that we can learn to dissociate the actual danger. From all of the other unrelated items that we have just linked up with it. I have to admit that I was a little arrogance. Right after the massacre and I thought that my expertise and doing this work for nearly 2 decades would somehow prevent me from experiencing any trauma symptoms, right? I thought I was immune and when I came to find out, which was extraordinary to me was that my amygdala is like everybody else's. So, my amygdala did not care how much training I had or what my expertise was in or how much knowledge I have about trauma. My amygdala was going to react exactly like everybody else's. So that first two months, was very challenging. And I just simply made a decision that I was going to be a living example. I was going to put myself out in every possible exposure situation that I could. And, I might have been in our community the first person to go back to basic Vegas. So two weeks after the shooting I was on a plane, and it was a pretty rough plane ride. Out to Vegas. And I spent a whole weekend there being triggered by just about everything. And I got through it and I got back and there were, life happens. Everyone triggers like that, but I forced myself to go out in public and got to the dance floor and I felt somewhat detached the first couple months and I didn't really feel like I wanted to, I did it anyway. Don't let your feelings dictate your decisions for the day. If it's healthy, go and do it anyway. I started this group immediately, because when people are in crisis, it's really hard, if you especially do not have any prior experience seeking treatment like this, I mean, where do you look, where do you start? I wanted to make it easy for them. Initially, I would say the majority of people, myself included, were having sleep problems. Were feeling very hypervigilant. All expected trauma reactions and people were very agitated. Very emotional. A lot of guilt, a lot of self blame. A lot of why me, why not me, why couldn't I have done more? And, the group of folks that have really come consistently have just you know, many have them have made a full recovery. It has been incredible to witness the amount of love and support that a group of initially strangers have been able to give to one another. But, make no mistake. As much as other people have gained, and benefited from this group that I started and have been running, for almost 6 months now, I feel that I have gained twofold. >> Shiva Ghaed is a clinical psychologist, you can learn more about her support group for fellow survivors of the Las Vegas firstname.lastname@example.org. That first-person feature was produced by Michael Lipkin.
A shooter opened fire at the Route 91 music festival in Las Vegas six months ago Sunday, killing 58 people and wounding more than 800 others. More than half of those who were killed were from California, including one San Diegan.
Shiva Ghaed, a clinical psychologist at Naval Medical Center San Diego, is one of more than 20,000 survivors of the festival. A clinical psychologist, Ghaed had devoted her professional life to helping active duty members of the military and veterans recover from trauma. After returning to San Diego following the festival she realized there would be dozens of San Diegans and their families who would need that same care. Just a week after the shooting, she founded what would become Route 91 Therapy, a support group that has meet every week since.
As part of our First Person series, Ghaed shared her story.