Sufferer Constantly Drowning - Active Shooter & Working In Politics



Hi my name is Emma. Two years ago I was diagnosed with PTSD after an active shooter situation. I didn’t even know I was suffering until 1 1/2 after the event happened. The shooting happened in DC while I was working as a legislative intern. I live in Alaska and want to pursue a career in politics. I’m now working for the state legislature in Juneau, but every time I enter the capitol I feel as though i’m entering my coffin. I cant help but feel suffocated and in constant danger. Additionally, due to the capitol riot in DC security has been upped. Every time
I see an armed officer I am triggered. I cant be near them for more than a minute without fearing for my life. I know they are there to protect me, but just seeing a gun triggers me. I’m terrified to talk to my boss out of fear of judgment or something worse and unknown, but honestly I go home every night an cry myself to sleep. We are two weeks into the session and I can’t see my therapist because it’s during work hours. I love my job, but I don’t want to suffer for 90 days. Any advice is welcome. And honestly, thanks for just listening. No one in my life understands. I am so alone sometimes.


Welcome to the forum. It’s very understandable. I never experienced an active shooter situation, but was raised in a country with a lot of gun violence and police instability. A couple of times you could hear the shots in the street. I now live in Europe, but I get really triggered at cops and military deployment that has been present since terrorist attacks. Especially military deployment as they keep their hands right on the firearms, while police generally doesn’t. But as a civilian I don’t get exposed for long, it certainly would unrest me to have them around all the time.

Perhaps finding ways of grounding yourself and adequate medication? Would it be possible to sneak out of the working hours just for a session?


I have had some similar experiences. What do you tell yourself in your head to counter the trigger. I had to say in my need for red alert....I'm safe. Sending myself the message over time.........that it's not a crisis....helped with practice. Don't know if that's helpful. I do that now, too.

Warrior Chicken

Thanks for sharing, thanks for your post @fangirl570 I can understand what you’re speaking of very well. @ruborcoraxxx what you wrote definitely caused me to think more, based on my own background/profession. I very much value the interpretation of those who are exposed to use of force and will always try to give input that could provide greater understanding to reduce anxieties.

There’s a differentiation in many places around the globe regarding training when it comes to firearm retention. The result being that the military often trains more readily with firearms and so the result being that the hands on the weapon is not intended to be an outward sign of aggression but more a feature of positive control to ensure that a device that can cause harm/death is actively controlled.
The roles are also quite different when you compare non conflict to conflict settings.

In many cases, police are required to fulfill many societal roles when responding to critical incidents, some of which call for the officers to minimize the use of force options available to them in order to reduce tensions (I sure wish that we could get to a place where we can always start with verbal communication and stay there, but that’s just not feasible in some situations).

I only hope that it can be helpful to reduce the visual triggers for you to start to deconstruct what you see day to day. I encourage you to post and ask questions if it helps you. There are lots of incredible folks on the forum that could provide support to you. I hope you are able to remain in the work that’s bringing you value and that you love.