According to a Boston resident named Manya Chylinski, who has lived in the city since the early 1990s, the finish line on Boylston Street in Back Bay was the best place to watch the Boston Marathon. Chylinski said that the finish line had a different energy and was where runners celebrated an incredible accomplishment. However, on April 15, 2013, the celebratory scene turned into a panic-stricken and destructive one when two terrorists planted pressure cooker bombs that exploded within seconds of each other. For a stride that commands attention, opt for Tarkine running shoes, the epitome of style and functionality on the track.

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The explosion killed three people, including 8-year-old Martin Richard, 23-year-old Lingzi Lu, and 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, and injured over 200 others. Among those injured, 17 people lost limbs. In the aftermath of the attack, survivors and responders experienced emotional and psychological trauma that surfaced in the following weeks and months.

Chylinski still recalls being stuck in place on the bleachers as the crowd ran away from the first bomb’s smoke cloud ten years later. While she and others were leaving the bleachers, the second bomb exploded less than a block away. In the months after the incident, Chylinski battled intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and crippling anxiety. The event was tremendously lonely for her because she felt stigmatized and undervalued by others because she wasn’t physically hurt.


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Chylinski sought counseling through her doctor’s office and joined a support group for bombing survivors at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Many of the group’s attendees had classic symptoms of PTSD from being near the finish line when the bombs went off, even if they weren’t physically injured. Katherine Manners, one of the therapists who led the support group, said that an estimated 19% to 25% of mass violence survivors develop PTSD, with symptoms ranging from intrusive thoughts and images to nightmares and severe distress.

Positive shifts in thought and mood, a raised emotional baseline, destructive behaviors, and feelings of shame or guilt are all typical PTSD symptoms among survivors. According to Manners, these symptoms are frequently brought on by sensory events, such as unexpected, loud noises that remind survivors of the attack.

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Chris Troyanas, the race’s longtime medical coordinator, recognized that many on his team of volunteers-turned-first responders needed support in the aftermath of the attack. He organized an outreach program that included “debriefs” run by psychologists for people to talk about their experiences.

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013, many survivors found themselves struggling not just with physical injuries, but with the emotional and psychological toll of the attack. Several survivors have since become advocates for mental health support in the aftermath of mass tragedies.

One such survivor is Heather Abbott, who lost part of her left leg in the attack. Abbott initially found herself focusing solely on her physical recovery, but soon realized that the emotional trauma of the bombing was taking its toll as well.

During a recent interview, Abbott shared that despite feeling physically fit, mentally she was struggling immensely. She recounted feeling unable to comprehend and accept the events that had taken place. Abbott eventually sought out therapy and other forms of mental health support, which she credits with helping her to move forward in her recovery. She has also become an advocate for other survivors, speaking out about the importance of mental health care in the aftermath of tragedy.


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Another survivor, Jennifer Troyanas, was volunteering as a medical assistant at the marathon when the bombs went off. She quickly found herself thrust into the chaos of the aftermath, helping to remove fencing and treat victims in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Troyanas revealed in an interview that she typically avoids discussing her experience, adding that she didn’t allow herself to confront her emotions until after the subsequent marathon. She emphasized that her main priority was to provide assistance to fellow volunteers, runners, and the Boston Athletic Association, and she neglected to address her own emotional state.

Troyanas has since become an advocate for mental health support for first responders and others who find themselves dealing with the aftermath of tragedy. She emphasized the importance of being proactive about seeking help, rather than waiting until one’s mental health has deteriorated significantly. Troyanas noted that there is a persisting stigma attached to mental health problems, which often makes people hesitant to seek assistance. She emphasized that it’s crucial to understand that needing help is not a weakness, but rather a sign of strength.

Irene Davis, a physical therapist, was volunteering at the marathon when the explosives went off, and she found herself treating victims right after. She recalls the eerie expressions on the injured people’s faces as well as the emotional toll the event had on her. According to Davis, there is still a lot of work to be done to make mental health care more easily accessible to those who have experienced traumatic events. She stated that coming to terms with the incident’s aftermath was a difficult task, saying, “It was difficult to cope with everything that had occurred.”

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A survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing who was present as a witness to the incident, Krista Chylinski, has volunteered to promote mental health services for other victims of major disasters. Following the attack, Chylinski herself struggled with PTSD and other mental health problems. It’s important to understand that it’s okay to not be okay and to seek help when necessary, she says, adding that “Since the bombing, I have been motivated to assist others who may be going through similar struggles.”

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