Using Mental Resiliency to Overcome Adversity
By Coordinator Ivan Silva
Mental resilience is a term with many meanings and is experienced by individuals at different capacities. When I think of mental resilience, I think of the ability to respond to issues such as adversity, trauma, and stress through positive and healthy avenues. Mental resilience was never really a trait that I thought about or realized I had until I was faced with a traumatic experience of my own.
I was very excited to attend my first country music festival. I attended the 4th Annual Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada taking place September 29th to October 1st, 2017. The first two nights of the event were great, as I had the time of my life. Little did I know the third night would be quite different. This was the night I experienced the Route 91 mass shooting firsthand as a concertgoer. In a matter of 10 seconds, I went from dancing the night away with my soon to be fiancé, to protecting us both from endless bullet rounds being sprayed throughout the concourse. As many people felt the heartbreak and despair through new outlets and social media, it was even harder to experience those emotions knowing it played out right in front of me. Following the event, I felt an array of emotions including helplessness, anxiety, paranoia, post-traumatic stress, and the inability to focus. This all occurred during my last quarter of college, and my number one goal was to seek the help I needed and to deal with my issues through positive avenues, which in turn, is my definition of being mentally resilient.
Following my return home from the event, I did not feel like myself one bit. I not only felt lucky to be alive, but also began to understand how others must feel following traumatic experiences. During this time, I received mental support through my university counselor which allowed me to deal with my emotions in a constructive manner rather than allowing them to bottle up inside of me. I also talked about my experiences with people close to me, as I quickly learned that I did not have to face these issues alone. I learned to accept my feelings; it was okay that I felt many things I never felt before, and this allowed me to be comfortable with seeking help. Although it was challenging to get back on track with my daily routine, time and proper outlets allowed me to cope with my experience.
There is not a day that goes by where I don’t think about my experience, and I know there is many people out in this world who go through their own unique trials and tribulations. I have a sense of gratitude each day knowing that my life was spared and this has allowed me to develop a more positive outlook on life. I still feel nervous and paranoid at times when I am in large crowds, but these emotions are normal given my circumstance, and I do my best to control them and not let them control me. I learned how important it is to be mentally resilient, and ways to deal with a broad spectrum of emotions in a constructive manner. Through proper resources and positive outlets, many traumatic experiences can be worked through. Although the experience will never go away, it is my hope that my experience and coping strategies can encourage others to deal with adversity in healthy ways. When someone may feel helpless or not themselves, it is important to know there is always resources available.