10/26/2014 05:53 EDT | Updated 12/26/2014 05:59 EST

Emotions still raw for MPs and staff after Parliament Hill shooting

OTTAWA - Megan Leslie thought a little exercise might do her some good in the days after a fusillade of bullets filled the hallway outside the parliamentary room where she and her NDP colleagues were having their weekly caucus meeting.

But when the deputy leader of the New Democratic Party got on her bike to go to power yoga, her heart started to race in a way that was at once both familiar and terrifying.

It felt like panic. It felt like it did that day in the Railway Room when Michael Zehaf Bibeau was on the other side of the doors in a shootout with House of Commons guards and RCMP officers.

"It felt awful," Leslie wrote in an email to those with whom she is closest, which she provided to The Canadian Press.

"I came home and cried, and now I have a pounding adrenaline headache. So I'm not ready yet for physical activity. I'm still figuring it out."

In the aftermath of Zehaf Bibeau's deadly rampage on Parliament Hill, during which he fired two fatal shots into the back of an unsuspecting Cpl. Nathan Cirillo as he stood sentry at the National War Memorial, many people who work here are still struggling with their emotions even as they return to their daily grinds.

"You sort of get into work mode," said Conservative MP Erin O'Toole.

"Everybody's working, you're dealing with things, you're dealing with some very sad and horrific damage. And you don't tend to step out of that until you leave work or leave your environment and go home."

Even though everyone is back at work, it doesn't necessarily mean everything is back to normal.

"The idea of getting back to normal, I think it helped some people, but I know it was a real trial for others," said Greta Levy, a press secretary for the NDP, who found herself face-to-face with Zehaf Bibeau when he ran into Centre Block just as she was leaving.

She kept herself busy last week by doing interview after interview about her close call. But after speaking with CBC on Friday morning, Levy decided that she didn't want to do any more interviews. So she went home, ate some potatoes and salad for lunch and then went to a spa near Gatineau Park with three close friends who are also press secretaries.

"Things change at every moment," Levy said in an interview. "So on a beautiful day, to be with three close friends, outside and sitting in the sunshine, that was the best thing I could have been doing at that moment. That definitely helped."

But Levy said the tranquility of those few hours at the spa has also given way to waves of anger over what happened.

"I guess that my impression so far has been that the difficulties that we are having with Wednesday's events, that they'll come out in sadness of some kind," she said.

"I can speak for myself alone, but I at times have felt real anger, and not anger I would call particularly rational.

"It's one thing to say that we're all going to support each other and be kind and be decent. I think that's easier to do when someone is feeling sad than when someone is being irrationally angry."

Conservative MP Rob Clarke, who was the RCMP officer on duty when two Mounties were shot dead in Spiritwood, Sask., said there is no shame in seeking help after such a traumatic event.

"It's not embarrassing. I do have PTSD from the shooting in Spiritwood, but I also take care of myself as well," he said.

"It's upon yourself to look after yourself. And also, just come talk. I'm available to talk to the other MPs as well if they have any questions about what they're going through."

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