“It’s not like there was time to ponder your fate…you just thought, we’re powerless to get out of the building….This is it.”
Producers: Whit Missildine
Episode Summary: A Port Authority employee narrowly escapes from the 68th floor after a plane hits the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, but the most devastating impact comes from the psychological wounds that haunt her life for decades after.
Today’s episode featured Kayla Bergeron. In addition to serving as chief of public and government affairs for The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Kayla has also served in senior roles for the New York State Housing Finance Agency and South Florida Water Management District, the lead agency restoring America’s Everglades.
Kayla currently resides in Suwanne, Georgia and serves as Program Director, and as a Certified Peer Support Specialist -Addictive Disease (C.P.S.- A.D.), for The Connection Forsyth, a 501c3 non profit recovery community organization, based in Cumming, Georgia. Kayla works as a social media consultant for Special Equestrians of Georgia, in Milton, Georgia, also a 501c3 non profit, where she participates in equine-assisted therapy.
Kayla recently started a gofundme for Special Equestrians of Georgia, where she receives equine-assisted therapy for PTSD. Last year, Special Equestrians of Georgia (SEG), based in Milton, GA, had to close down its hippotherapy program due to COVID-19 and safety concerns. As a result, many of the horses had to be rehomed. Currently, SEG provides equine-assisted therapy for teens and adults with mental health challenges, including depression, PTSD, anxiety and trauma. With COVID-19 Delta variant hovering, Special Equestrians of Georgia may be forced to shut down its doors — for good. It costs approximately $3,000 to fund the program, which includes feeding and special dietary needs, farrier, veterinarian, medicine and facility maintenance. Please help by donating to Special Equestrians of Georgia.
This episode is part of a special, four-part series called The Long Shadow. Twenty Years after the attacks of September 11th changed the world as we knew it, this month the This Is Actually Happening podcast dives deep into the stories of four survivors whose jobs brought them face to face with the unthinkable. For those called to manage an impossible tragedy up close, the events of September 11th represented a uniquely horrifying challenge. Among the harrowing details of that day, we explore the long shadows of trauma and resilience that continue to inform the looming uncertainties that remain with us today.
Social Media: Instagram: @actuallyhappening
Wondery Plus: All episodes of the show prior to episode #130 are now part of the Wondery Plus premium service. To access the full catalog of episodes, and get all episodes ad free, sign up for Wondery Plus at https://wondery.com/plus
Episode Sponsors: DoorDash
Support the Show: Support The Show on Patreon https://www.patreon.com/happening
Engage with the Community: Join the This Is Actually Happening Discussion Group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/201783687561039/
Shop at the Store: The This Is Actually Happening online store is now officially open. Follow this link: https://www.thisisactuallyhappening.com/shop to access branded t-shirts, posters, stickers and more from the shop.
Content/Trigger Warnings: violence, injury, terrorism, mention of suicide, alcoholism, addiction, mental illness explicit language
Intro Music: “Illabye” – Tipper
Music and Sound Design by: Marcelino Villalpando
If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of trauma or mental illness, please refer to the following resources.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
National Alliance on Mental Illness: 1-800-950-6264
National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN): 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
Crisis Text Line: Within the US, text HOME to 741741
“The world looks like it’s coming to an end, and another cloud comes over…Everything goes dark, and the world is covered in dust.”
Producers: Whit Missildine, Andrew Waits
Episode Summary: On September 11th, 2001 an ER Doctor finds himself in charge of the closest emergency room to the Twin Towers.
Today’s episode featured Tony Dajer. Tony was born in New York City, grew up in Puerto Rico, and has been practicing as an ER Doctor in New York for 30 years. You can read one of Tony’s articles called “Vital Signs” featured in Discover Magazine at www.discovermagazine.com/health/vital-signs-37.
Website for Andrew Waits: http://andrdewwaits.com/
Special Thanks: To all who helped make this series happen – Ellen Westberg, Andrew Waits, Marcelino Villalpando, Gabriella Quintana, Emily Caldwell, and Jason Blalock.
Episode Sponsors: GoodRX: goodrx.com/happening; Lending Tree
Content/Trigger Warnings: violence, graphic bodily injury, terrorism, explicit language
A big Halloween party at an apartment complex in Redmond, Washington. Themed rooms and costumed partygoers. But by the end of the party, one of the hosts is dead. The police look to the partiers as the prime suspects: was it the guy in the devil mask, the bank robber, the construction worker? As investigators comb through forensic evidence, witness testimony, DNA, and even consult with a psychic, they zero in on one suspect in particular. But for what reason? Host and reporter Matthew Shaer (Over My Dead Body) returns to the scene of the crime, speaks with everyone about a night that still haunts them years later. It’s a series about race and policing, mislaid justice, cutting-edge science, and the kinds of weighty choices that cops and prosecutors make every day — choices that, once made, are difficult to reverse.
Listen to SUSPECT: wondery.fm/Suspect_ActuallyHapp
“There’s really no way to explain how it feels when you realize one decision you made in an instant altered the life of everyone around you.”
Episode Summary: A woman who finally finds her sense of purpose after a tumultuous upbringing realizes a mother’s ultimate horror.
Episode Sponsors: Simplisafe: simplisafe.com/actually
Content/Trigger Warnings: domestic violence, drug use, alcoholism, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, self harm, infant death, graphic injury, sexual assault, explicit language
Music Bed: “Re-Entry” – Lee Rosevere
“All the reality that I had been putting off, and all of the denial, it all crashed in on me.”
Producers: Whit Missildine, Jason Blalock
Episode Summary: Growing up in the closet with a mentally ill mother, a man finds his true love, but as their past continues to weigh in, the only remedy he knows threatens to consume everything he’s built.
Today’s episode featured Gabriel. Gabriel is now a psychiatric social worker and licensed therapist in Orange County, California. You can find out more about Gabriel on Instagram @gabriel.emmm.
Website for Jason Blalock: www.jasonblalock.com
Episode Sponsors: Best Fiends, Lending Tree, BetterHelp: betterhelp.com/happening
Content/Trigger Warnings: drug abuse, drug addiction, opioids, overdose, death, suicide, explicit language
Music Bed: Ambient Themes by Nigel Coutinho
“I was too ashamed to reach out and say, ‘Look, I don’t understand what’s happening, I think I’m going crazy…please help me.’”
Producers: Whit Missildine, Matt Volla
Episode Summary: Following early experiences of isolation and bullying, a man assigned female at birth finds a beautiful friendship, that soon descends into a bewildering cycle of gaslighting and obsession.
Today’s episode featured Vel Ryder. You can find out more about Vel on Twitter and Instagram @whiskeyandspite.
Website for Matt Volla: www.mattvolla.com
Episode Sponsors: Upstart: upstart.com/happening
Content/Trigger Warnings: suicidal thinking, mental illness, gaslighting, psychological abuse, explicit language
Music Bed: “Uncertain Outcomes/Embers” – SkyeVoyager https://linktr.ee/SkyeVoyager
Paolo is a smart and handsome surgeon, renowned for his ability to perform surgeries that transform his patients’ lives. When television producer Benita covers him for a story, he’ll transform her life too, but not in the ways she expects. As Benita crosses professional lines to be with him, she learns how far Paolo will go to protect his secrets. And halfway around the world, four doctors at a prestigious medical institute make shocking discoveries of their own that call everything into question. From Wondery comes Season Three of the hit podcast, Dr. Death. MIRACLE MAN tells the story of a globe-trotting surgeon who seduces the medical world, and sweeps one woman off her feet. Hosted by Laura Beil.
Listen to Dr. Death Season 3: wondery.fm/DDS3_TIAH
“When I knew I was dying, I knew that I wasn’t going to have the anxiety or the OCD brain, it was just going to be over.”
Episode Summary: A woman with severe harm OCD encounters the many faces of death and dying but finds renewal in caring for others and ultimately herself
Today’s episode featured Rachel. You can find out more about her on Facebook at fb.com/RachelHillestad.
Episode Sponsors: GoodRX: goodrx.com/happening; ThredUp: thredup.com/happening
Content/Trigger Warnings: homicidal thoughts, harm OCD, death, sexual assault, mention of suicide, suicidal thoughts, explicit language
Music Bed: “Cylinder Four/Five” – Chris Zabriskie
This show is creepy, heartbreaking, insane, and shocking. I can't stop listening to it.
New episodes come out every Tuesday for free, with ad-free episodes and exclusive past episodes available for Wondery+ subscribers.
What if your mother left to follow a cult… or you woke up in a morgue… or if your boat got caught in a storm and began to sink — what would you do? This is Actually Happening brings you extraordinary true stories of life-changing events told by the people who lived them. From a man who finds out a celebrity crush isn’t who she seems to a woman stranded in a Mexican desert fighting to survive, these stories will have you on the edge of your seat waiting to hear what happens next.
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