What Now? Dealing with the Emotional Aftermath of the Verdict

What Now? Dealing with the Emotional Aftermath of the Verdict

Kathariya Mokrue, PhD

Kathariya Mokrue, PhD

Kathariya Mokrue, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist in New York, has more than 20 years of experience, specializing in cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy and mindfulness-informed approaches. Dr. Mokrue treats adolescents and adults who have anxiety, depression and work-school-life balance and relationship difficulties. Dr. Mokrue received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Rutgers University and completed her training at Montefiore Medical Center and SUNY Downstate Medical Center. She has worked in outpatient clinics, psychiatric emergency rooms, inpatient units, medical treatment units and school-based clinics. In addition, she is an associate professor at York College of The City University of New York, where she is the director of the Stress-Less at York research program. She regularly presents research findings at local and national conferences and publishes in scholarly journals. A professional member of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), she sits on the ADAA Public Education Committee.

What Now? Dealing with the Emotional Aftermath of the Verdict

Share
No
George Floyd After the Verdict by Kathariya Mokrue

One year ago, the world tuned in to see a man being murdered by a uniformed police officer while onlookers pleaded for mercy. George Floyd’s death led to numerous protests all over the world against police brutality and systemic racism experienced by Black and Brown communities. Although conviction in cases involving police killings are rare, many hoped that the outcome of this trial will be different. Perhaps the video and the parade of witnesses and experts will be enough this time. Still many disengaged from the trial altogether, convinced that “it doesn’t matter anyway”, and “nothing’s going to change.”

While the verdict led to “a collective sigh of relief”, the knowledge that people of color are still being targeted, that there is profound inequity and entrenched systemic racism in all aspects of society, and that true justice may not come in one lifetime leave many people feeling disheartened, angry, frustrated, helpless, sad, numb, and hopeless.  For many the verdict is not a celebration. It’s a moment to cry and to grieve.      

For people of color, racial trauma can follow sudden experiences (experiencing near death or witnessing a death/life threatening experience such as hate crimes) as well as enduring physical or psychological threat (microaggressions and racial profiling) and often produces feelings of anxiety, fear, depression, helplessness, and post traumatic stress symptoms.    Allies and those in positions of privilege may also experience anxiety, depression, guilt, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness as the challenge of dismantling oppressive systems come to view.  

How does one navigate these feelings, particularly when incidents of police killings and other injustices against people of color and other marginalized communities surface on a daily basis?   How can one support one another?  What can one do to work towards a more just, equal, equitable, and safe world for our children?

Here are some things I’ve been doing as a person of color and what I’ve been advising patients to do. Keep in mind that the work against police brutality and racial injustice will take decades.  Prepare for a marathon, not a sprint It is important to maintain a healthy cadence and ensure you have the support through the long journey.  

First, it is important to acknowledge your feelings. Try not to rush to get rid of the frustration, sadness, anger, helplessness, etc.=Give yourself permission to feel them. It’s important to process what the verdict means to you and what it stirs up in you. Pushing these feelings away isn’t effective and can lead to more psychological and physical problems down the line.    

Seek out support. Find a safe space for you to share your thoughts and feelings. Feeling heard, validated, seen can be incredibly powerful and healing. It is important to feel that you are not alone and that you have the support you need to go about your daily life and/or to contribute to change.  

Attend to your physical needs. Make sure you get good enough sleep, nourish your body with healthy meals, stay hydrated, and stay physically active. Feeling physically healthy can help you to think clearer and handle daily hassles, life events, as well as unexpected, unpleasant ones more effectively. When we feel run down, we tend to not see the full picture and react to stressors rather than be proactive.

Swap excessive media consumption for deep breathing and mindfulness. Learning to slow down your breathing, paying attention to slowly exhalating. Research shows that this can slow down the sympathetic nervous system’s activation which is responsible for the “fight, flight or flee” response. Mindfulness allows you to redirect your focus on a neutral anchor rather than getting pulled into the images, the “what ifs,” and unhelpful ruminations and emotions.  

If you feel helpless or hopeless, keep in mind that there are many things that can be done. The idea that one has to feel motivated or better in order to take action is flawed.   Action can bring changes to feelings. Actionable steps can include:

•    Checking with your friends, loved ones, co-workers from marginalized groups 
•    Validate feelings and experiences of people of color and amplify these experiences 
•    Keeping the injustice in the light 
•    Standing up to injustice in various forms, such as microaggressions and racist jokes/comments
•    Stay connected with organized social justice movements 
•    Educate self on racial power and privilege
•    Use your power and privilege to make changes

However, if you find that you are unable to attend to everyday responsibilities because of persistent, unhelpful feelings and thoughts, it may be time to consider seeking professional help. 
 

Kathariya Mokrue, PhD

Kathariya Mokrue, PhD

Kathariya Mokrue, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist in New York, has more than 20 years of experience, specializing in cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy and mindfulness-informed approaches. Dr. Mokrue treats adolescents and adults who have anxiety, depression and work-school-life balance and relationship difficulties. Dr. Mokrue received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Rutgers University and completed her training at Montefiore Medical Center and SUNY Downstate Medical Center. She has worked in outpatient clinics, psychiatric emergency rooms, inpatient units, medical treatment units and school-based clinics. In addition, she is an associate professor at York College of The City University of New York, where she is the director of the Stress-Less at York research program. She regularly presents research findings at local and national conferences and publishes in scholarly journals. A professional member of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), she sits on the ADAA Public Education Committee.

Use of Website Blog Commenting

Use of Website Blog Commenting

ADAA provides this Website blogs for the benefit of its members and the public. The content, view and opinions published in Blogs written by our personnel or contributors – or from links or posts on the Website from other sources - belong solely to their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of ADAA, its members, management or employees. Any comments or opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors only. Please remember that the open and real-time nature of the comments posted to these venues makes it is impossible for ADAA to confirm the validity of any content posted, and though we reserve the right to review and edit or delete any such comment, we do not guarantee that we will monitor or review it. As such, we are not responsible for any messages posted or the consequences of following any advice offered within such posts. If you find any posts in these posts/comments to be offensive, inaccurate or objectionable, please contact us via email at [email protected] and reference the relevant content. If we determine that removal of a post or posts is necessary, we will make reasonable efforts to do so in a timely manner.

ADAA expressly disclaims responsibility for and liabilities resulting from, any information or communications from and between users of ADAA’s blog post commenting features. Users acknowledge and agree that they may be individually liable for anything they communicate using ADAA’s blogs, including but not limited to defamatory, discriminatory, false or unauthorized information. Users are cautioned that they are responsible for complying with the requirements of applicable copyright and trademark laws and regulations. By submitting a response, comment or content, you agree that such submission is non-confidential for all purposes. Any submission to this Website will be deemed and remain the property of ADAA.

The ADAA blogs are forums for individuals to share their opinions, experiences and thoughts related to mental illness. ADAA wants to ensure the integrity of this service and therefore, use of this service is limited to participants who agree to adhere to the following guidelines:

1. Refrain from transmitting any message, information, data, or text that is unlawful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, that may be invasive of another 's privacy, hateful, or bashing communications - especially those aimed at gender, race, color, sexual orientation, national origin, religious views or disability.

Please note that there is a review process whereby all comments posted to blog posts and webinars are reviewed by ADAA staff to determine appropriateness before comments are posted. ADAA reserves the right to remove or edit a post containing offensive material as defined by ADAA.

ADAA reserves the right to remove or edit posts that contain explicit, obscene, offensive, or vulgar language. Similarly, posts that contain any graphic files will be removed immediately upon notice.

2. Refrain from posting or transmitting any unsolicited, promotional materials, "junk mail," "spam," "chain mail," "pyramid schemes" or any other form of solicitation. ADAA reserves the right to delete these posts immediately upon notice.

3. ADAA invites and encourages a healthy exchange of opinions. If you disagree with a participant 's post or opinion and wish to challenge it, do so with respect. The real objective of the ADAA blog post commenting function is to promote discussion and understanding, not to convince others that your opinion is "right." Name calling, insults, and personal attacks are not appropriate and will not be tolerated. ADAA will remove these posts immediately upon notice.

4. ADAA promotes privacy and encourages participants to keep personal information such as address and telephone number from being posted. Similarly, do not ask for personal information from other participants. Any comments that ask for telephone, address, e-mail, surveys and research studies will not be approved for posting.

5. Participants should be aware that the opinions, beliefs and statements on blog posts do not necessarily represent the opinions and beliefs of ADAA. Participants also agree that ADAA is not to be held liable for any loss or injury caused, in whole or in part, by sponsorship of blog post commenting. Participants also agree that ADAA reserves the right to report any suspicions of harm to self or others as evidenced by participant posts.

RESOURCES AND NEWS
Evidence-based Tips & Strategies from our Member Experts
RELATED ARTICLES
Block reference
TAKING ACTION
After viewing my art and story, I want others to understand that we are not alone in this and…

Advertisement