9/11 survivor details her experiences after terrorist attack

Mental health advocate and author Helaina Hovitz Regal reflects on living through the attack near her home and school at age 12.
7:37 | 09/11/19

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Transcript for 9/11 survivor details her experiences after terrorist attack
If you are alive and it 2001 old enough in 2001 you most will you most likely remember where you were. What you were doing what your family was doing on the morning of September 11 even if you weren't in New York City I certainly do I remember watching the terrifying images on the screen. But for our next guest she lived did a twelve year old living three blocks away from the World Trade Center Alina. Ovitz regal I'm in 9/11 survivor and now a mental health advocate and author of the book you see there after 9/11. One girl's journey through darkness to a new beginning so Coleen I'm very very happy that you're able to join us today it's really nice to have you here thanks for having me yeah I just wanna start because it's obviously eighteen years later what does is day feel like free you. Today is really a day you where I say it. Reflecting so much on an. How far we've come this sentence that day half beans and for me personally it's really about. Remember rained it. The spirit of the day it where. Immediately afterwards there is this unity that we had in the community as we were affected down there just blocks away where nothing mattered except looking out for each other and taking care of each other because we were basically in a wars Alan you know there was no water electricity heat food coming into the area. People need medications and so. Family is and other people became tense first responders almost for each other and you saw American flags everywhere rain and it didn't matter ever run Liz. Together and they think that today also importantly. Yes of course it's it's very meaningful for survivors but it's also attend her thoughts on the people that we lost and that we're continue to we're continuing to lose his while unfortunately due to these Nightline and related. Common sense. Absolutely. You are twelve years old at the time which is mind blowing because. You're saying all of this and to me I feel like you'll be hard to even process what was happening with him being so close to you. Flap lever and middle school couple blocks away right next to Stuyvesant High School and we didn't really know what was happening until we had been after the first plane hit me -- on the cafeteria it was chaos. And parents had started to rushing in screaming and crying and calling their kids out. And I just what and I didn't you because my parents and it works downtown and my grandparents lived in our apartment building. Which is normally a ten minute walk away across town and I just thought how am I gonna get home to them. And my neighbors showed up in the doorway right when the bomb squad Dickinson the FD get all these can found my minutes. And my neighbor and her son and I want to Scola said he can take her and we didn't know what was going to happen that Manila the school melting. Pretty scary. It was as soon as we opened this school doors we looked up and we can just feel the heat of the fires both planes and head and back playing on our cases ever on the stopping and looking up people were ready being loaded into structures he was just chaos and then next. Our we spent. Running for our lives running from the dust cloud being pulled into buildings being covered watching people leading collapsing just horrific horrific things back. V you know -- something you know was signing on to me it felt like the world was ending I thought on her being dropped on us but we just five we have to get home we have to get home and it that is. It was terrifying because everyone was trying to get out so lever rushing against crowds of people trying to get out and policeman Atlantis through but finally after an hour on our last hope we did make it home. Yea you wrote this you wrote the book obviously and you also wrote an article. Reece say I'll never forget what we saw heard smelled inexperienced as we were pushed through crowds of bloody. Ash covered bodies in a sea of police. Offers some officers toward home it seems like the world was ending in although my parents and I had survived. The world as we knew it would not. Like after 9/11 was just the beginning so when I want to ask you is about. Ask you about is the life after 9/11 on the six months of the year after 9/11 how you're you're entire world changed. Absolutely so. There was definitely this theory you know immediately the next day that they Ellington officials telling Evelyn let's get back to normal we're not going to be changed but in honor not our home in our neighborhood. It was a wars on the National Guard is there with rifles fairways warnings of more attacks coming to link the Brooklyn Bridge to city college for also box a lake. Every five seconds they were telling us. I was throwing myself into the middle of the floor like it how we have to evacuate or any get rid of us any time we tried to walk outside people are running and screaming that more buildings were coming down. And also there is this a there were two weeks off of school as we're figuring out what to do about relocating and during that time. But I now know was you know they were very early symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder than. Crying then nightmares the docking and I heard planes that they might not wanting to separate from my parents. For a sack and to Aaron the sleeplessness the intrusive thoughts and of course that fear that any sacking. It could happen again Yunel there was this feeling that. When your child if you're lucky girl but the assumption that the world is a safe place and the adults are gonna make sure you're okay and now all of this was. This is this being thrown into at age twelve a world where no one can keep you safe from any paying and so we Bernie located on our school lays. Relocated to UN building from a little further up town battery had three schools and Hannity and I expected every land to be super nice to chat currency for kind. And that's not what happened to you had a bunch of us traumatize kids I'm getting shoved around in the halls and pain of Toledo you think they're special and there's this one instance I'll never forget where. There was the riot recess and a truck tire popped outside and you knew who is from our school ICD nine because we all either like hit the floor ran around and started. Crying and screaming and only Americans just laughed at us. Sounds a what I want to ask you is he knows this is pretty traumatic you know your your experiencing this but. How do you cope now and at this point in your life you're helping other people cope with trauma that they experience to re yeah absolutely it took a long time unfortunately T get the proper diagnosis and -- knew that something was wrong and I started trying to get help almost immediately I spent my teenage years. Not just going through the more complex symptoms of trauma which can be. Difficulty in relationships. Hyper and rationality hyper arousal insomnia self harm addiction. These things that you may not necessarily think are linked to trauma but when you're brain pattern changes rate when your response to the world is fight or flight. That applies to everything in your life and that makes the stresses of a normal teenage adolescents and the inks that comes with it. It's like Phyllis in the fire and so I went to see psychiatrists and terror Pakistan is taunts. As juvenile these different date diagnoses and medications that made me sick but none of it quote unquote work and so that was almost three dramatizing in itself trying to get better and six what was wrong with me and only getting Mars. Eventually I did finally find the right from a therapy I'm at my eye out to college. Which is CDT which is that they gave you know war veterans and it's on fats I started to really find recovering and that turned in Q. DDT. And that turning to twelve step recovery I got sober when I was 22 and I had to basically re learn how to be in the world again. And undo this kind of faulty wiring that hang it locks itself and to my brain. I'm Dan. So you're journey people can read in the entire journey in your experience in your book right here after 9/11. One girl's journey through darkness. To a new beginning. We really appreciate you sharing your story cheering in in the book sharing it with us Alina hope it's regal thanks for being here today him yes.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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