Author: 26 years old, Lebanon
It felt horrible. Nothing can describe or explain the feeling of a near-death experience, especially the first moments when nothing is clear yet and you do not know what exactly happened and where. The magnitude of the explosion had made everyone think whatever happened had happened in their neighborhood. The first second of it happening my body went into fight or flight mode where I jumped, ran to my bedroom, got my passport (as a reflex, I was not clearly thinking, but had prior 2006 experience with not having my passport with me, and did not want to repeat that mistake), and while doing that I had messaged my parents letting them know there had been an airstrike. That moment I had still thought whatever happened had targeted my neighborhood, and so I was in a race of time before the usual "second strike" after people gather. Running to the front door, I see through the shattered balcony the immensity of the explosion that had occurred which made me feel, in a twisted way, comforted. Seeing the mushroom cloud told me its location, and the comfort was that it was not dangerously near me. Gathering myself, I managed to call my parents after the lines had gone back on, told them I was okay, and that I was going to my aunt to be there for her since she and her son had sustained light injuries. Before that, I had made sure to check on all our neighbors to see if everyone was okay, then I went down to the front gate of our parking and swept all the shattered glass that blocked people from being able to leave. After that, I left to my aunt's where I stayed the rest of the night. By around 10:00 PM, when things started to become clearer, we went to buy groceries in an attempt to be ready for a possibility of a war erupting (also 2006 learned experiences). That night I, at first surprisingly but then not surprisingly, slept like a baby. The blast definitely has long-term impacts on me mentally. While the first two weeks I was able to sleep normally, I started having nightmares of explosions intermittently. As for being awake, I am highly sensitive to ground vibrations (usually caused by big trucks or loud cars) and to airplane sounds (warplanes are commonly heard). I am still trying to deal with it. Therapy is next but have not started yet. As for now, I deal with it through exposure therapy. I make sure I do not run away when I am faced with these sounds/vibrations/nightmares. I stay put and listen to them to process them and eventually in the hopes of letting my brain re-learn that those vibrations/sounds were and still are common, as they do not mean I am at life-threatening risk. I also make sure to vocalize my feelings and experiences to my loved ones who remain supportive throughout this.