Invisible wounds healed by beautiful encounters with people near me. Warm deep-rooted relationships keep you healthy and happy. People need a social connection, loneliness kills, quality over quantity for your social connections.
On Monday July 25, 2022, we were joined by Ferry Zandvliet who is a survivor of the Friday 13 Terrorist Attacks on Paris in 2015.
Ferry, a Native of Holland, was on holiday with three friends in Paris and were attending the Eagles of Death Metal concert at the Bataclan Club. It was a sold-out gig with over 1200 in attendance. In the crowded venue, they moved about a bit to get a better view and to get involved in the mosh pit that was beginning to develop on the dance floor.
Around a half hour into the convert, three Islamic State (IS) terrorist suicide bombers armed with Baryshnikov assault rifles entered the venue and opened fire. Luckily for Ferry, his moving about the venue for a better vantage point put him near an emergency exit. While crouching down to avoid the rounds being indiscriminately sprayed about the hall, he climbed over and around dead bodies and made his escape. The terrorists were also wired with body explosives and took their own lives following the police’s breach of the building.
Ferry ran down the street into a bar in a complete state of panic. In the tavern was a nurse who calmed him down, took him to her flat and let him shower off the blood that was caked all over him. Her husband gave him some clothes. Ferry found out that his friends had also survived the attack.
In the end, there were 6 separate attacks in Paris that evening, resulting in the loss of 131 people, 89 deaths at the concert venue alone. Ten survivors of these attacks have since committed suicide.
Ferry and his friends left Paris and, as so many survivors of such traumatic events do, suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. He developed anger issues that resulted in losing his job and the termination of his relationship. He was in a “poor me” mentality for four years, being frustrated with Dutch support system.
Instead of reverting to drugs and alcohol as an escape, Ferry started seeing a psychologist and working out in a gym. He began meditation two times a day and keeping a journal to expose his feelings. He began doing lectures of his experiences around the world. He says he recovered by recharging the brain, exercise, meditation and creating deep-rooted social connections with those around him. He created support groups for fellow survivors and victims of other terrorist activities. He surrounded himself in positivity.
He even met with the father of one of the terrorists. His son was 25 years old, perfectly normal upbringing until he got pulled into and extremist cell of Islam. Ferry found he couldn’t blame the parents for how their children went wrong and the parents are living the same nightmare.
He became a friend of the family.
Ferry’s wisdom to impart: just because you can pick a fight doesn’t mean you have to. It’s never too late to invest in your social surroundings. View the world through rose-colored
glasses. He’s never been happier as he is today. He feels he was emotionally recovered three and a half years after the tragedy.
Thank you, Ferry for sharing your difficult and inspiring story with us.
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