PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) — Some kinds of hurricane recovery are tougher than others. While people continue to clean up from Ian, some are still attempting to put together another part of their lives — their mental health.
“It’s really stressful, and there’s days when I just want to cry,” said Devon Ferrata. “There’s days where I do.”
That kind of recovery can be trickier than repairing windows and doors. Ferrata was sitting with her family in their living room during Hurricane Ian when a tree crashed through the roof, upending their lives. A tarp covering the roof, some woodchips on the grass and a stump in the front yard are all evidence that a decades-old oak tree stood in the front yard.
“Some days I wake up feeling great and by the end of the day, I’m drained,” Ferrata explained.
Equally as tough is her daughter Adley wanting her old life back.
“We’ve got our five-year-old that has little breakdowns every now and then because she misses her house, misses her toys and wants to go home,” Ferrata said. “We don’t really have a home right now. We’re kind of in limbo.”
University of South Florida assistant professor Kristin Kosyluk says all of Ferrata’s feelings are completely normal, as long as she keeps an eye on them.
“Some distress and sadness and trouble sleeping and eating and things like that are fairly normal when it comes to grief,” Kosyluk said. “When it becomes a prolonged experience though and you’re not able to get any relief from those symptoms is really when you need to think about getting treatment.”
Kosyluk said explaining the hurricane to your kids can be tricky, whether you were impacted or not.
“You want to approach it at a developmentally appropriate level,” Kosyluk said. “Young kids aren’t going to understand some of the more complex terminology that we were just using, like ‘survivor’s guilt.'”
Kosyluk said if you are struggling with survivor’s guilt, a helpful reminder is that being relieved that you and your loved ones were not directly impacted by Ian is not the same as wishing the impact on another person.
She does worry about older adults and those in lower income brackets too.
“The fear there is they’re the most impacted,” Kosyluk explained. “But then also probably the least likely to engage with professional mental health care.”
There is some good news for the Ferrata family, however. The hurricane pushed them out of the house they were renting and their offer to buy a new one was just accepted. They’ll be moving in November.