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July 14, 2016 3:17 am

Coping With Trauma of Terrorist Rocket-Fire Requires Acknowledging Fear, Facing Reality, New Israeli Self-Help Book Advises

avatar by Ruthie Blum

A factory in Sderot hit by Hamas rockets. Photo: IDF.

A factory in Sderot hit by Hamas rockets. Photo: IDF.

A woman who suffered a panic attack during the war in Gaza two years ago while doing community work on behalf of residents of southern Israel living under constant Hamas rocket-fire bombardment has produced a self-help book for coping with post-trauma, the Hebrew news site nrg reported on Wednesday.

Mali Penina Tapiro, 36 – who served as an urban mapping coordinator during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 — told nrg that she recently decided to publish the pamphlet-length book she wrote after the war “to absorb the feeling of being scared” that accompanies living under perpetual enemy threat.

“It is an excellent tool for parents to use when talking to their children about their fears — and to help them look those fears in the eye,” she said, explaining that her goal is for the 26-page book – titled Me and Myself — to reach every single household in Israel’s “Gaza envelope” communities.

Tapiro said her main message is that it is all right for both children and adults to be afraid. “The book encourages introspection, and resisting the urge to succumb to societal dictates,” she said.

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Tapiro described the morning or her anxiety attack. “One day during the war, I was awakened by the sound of an air raid siren, and I remembered that I had forgotten to close the window of the fortified (bomb shelter) room… It was only later, when I passed a mirror on my way into the kitchen and saw myself that I grasped I was having a kind of an anxiety attack. I was crying and felt suffocated — and my knees froze.”

According to nrg, the tension between a harsh outer reality, like that of the Israelis living near the Gaza border, and a person’s internal world is the point of the book. It is a conversation between “me” and “myself,” with one saying, “So what if missiles are exploding all around me? So what if there’s chaos outside? That’s nothing new; what are you stressed about?” Meanwhile, the other is the voice of the self who feels broken and that he can’t take it any more.

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