My life was normal until I was on my way to work, waiting for my shuttle service, and my phone got snatched. I have been living at my parents’ for so many years. But that night changed my life. I am so thankful that the robbers did not hurt me physically and just took my phone. Along with my phone is my ID which contains my photo, address, birthday etc. Ever since then, I’ve felt like someone is watching me always and is waiting for the chance to harm me again. And worst, I always feel like there are some people who will hurt my child too. I lost trust in everyone and I feel like any of them might harm or hurt my child or me. I can’t sleep, I can’t focus on my job. Please help me find the way to cope.
Hi Shelby –
You are dealing with something very specific, called Trauma. People often refer to it as PTSD, meaning Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but I don’t know that you’re having a real “disorder.” You just are in the effects of this awful trauma.
Now let me make something clear about this – Trauma is not about what happened to you; it’s about the effect it had on you. So when someone tells you, “You’re overreacting – lots of worse things happen to people every day,” it’s not that they’re exactly wrong, but they’re missing the point! Yes, some people would order a new phone and shrug this experience off. But they’re not you. This incident cut to your core, making you distrustful of everyone and frightened of life. The word psychologists use is “Hypervigilant,” meaning you’re always on the watch, and can’t relax and enjoy your life.
There are many treatments out there for trauma. For some people, some deep breathing is enough. For others, a massage, a glass of wine, and a good talk with a caring friend works. Or of course I’m going to suggest a dog – both for the calming walks and for the barking protector with big teeth!
But for others, those aren’t enough. There are psychotherapists everywhere who specialize in methods of trauma-reduction. For some people, fascinating methods like specialized tapping on their face and body, or eye movements, can help heal the damage the trauma did to their nervous system. For others, it might be a more in-depth work (perhaps the robbery triggered a memory in you of another violation to your safety when you were young, and accessing that memory will relieve your more recent anxiety).
I’m a pretty happy pup, and have likely caused more traumas than I’ve suffered! But I have a few slight cases. For example, when I was a puppy, Handsome tried to befriend me to a medium-sized long-haired black dog he loved, who attacked and tried to kill me before he got me away from her. I was okay, but to this day, when I see a long-haired black dog bigger than me, I instantly fall onto my back and pee submissively, from the deep-seated terror in my memory.
There’s nothing wrong with your mind, Shelby. You’re sane and smart. But this incident has caused you the same sort of damage another person might get from an attack, a car accident, or being near a bomb explosion.
I urge you to find a therapist of some sort to help you through this. You’re not wrong to be bothered by being robbed, but you want to live a happier life in the future, and good trauma treatment can get that for you.
(Though I still say buying a dog is a GREAT idea as well!)
All my very best,