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Five years after my mother was killed I am anxious all the time

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Life Coach Adams (LCA): Hi. How are you today?

Anxious Woman (AW): I’m doing okay.

LCA: Good. How can I be of help?

AW: Lately I have been so jumpy and worried about everything.

LCA: You have been anxious.

AW: Yes, but I am not sure why.

LCA: What has been on your mind?

AW: I’m not sure; maybe that I might die soon?

LCA: Have you been diagnosed with a terminal illness?

AW: No.{{more}}

LCA: Has someone threatened your life?

AW: No.

LCA: How long have you felt like this?

AW: Maybe about five years.

LCA: Please tell me what happened.

AW: My mother died about five years ago; a car ran her over when we went shopping overseas. We were in the supermarket and she went to the car to get something. I heard a commotion and when I ran outside she was there, sprawled out on the pavement. It was a hit and run driver. I can never forget her face – my mother on the ground dead, and I could do nothing, nothing. After that I realized that I could not sleep; I twisted and tossed all night long on my bed for two full years – I fell asleep at about 4 a.m. then woke up at about 6 a.m. every day.

LCA: You were shocked and horrified at the way your mother died – so tragically and so suddenly.

AW: Yes, but this changed a year ago. I started sleeping a bit better, but now I am jumpy, even at the slightest sound.

LCA: Did you ever have nightmares when you finally fell asleep during those times?

AW: Yes. I think that this is why I could not sleep. I was afraid to.

LCA: What was the content of your dream; what did you dream about?

AW: I kept seeing myself dying; it’s like she died and I was next in line. Every night I dreamt the same thing. Her death was haunting me.

LCA: So you were scared that if your mother died, then you would die next.

AW: Yes. We were so close for so long. We did almost everything together.

LCA: Have you been blaming yourself for her death?

AW: Yes, because I had suggested that we should go shopping and she was not up to it, but I insisted and she gave in.

LCA: I see. So now you feel guilty as if you were the cause of her death.

AW: Yes. I do believe that she is dead because of me.

LCA: Well, you could not have known that something so tragic would have happened. You may have invited her to go shopping, but you were not responsible for her death.

AW: I feel responsible.

LCA: I know you feel responsible, but you are not. The driver was at fault for not giving her as a pedestrian the right of way. That was not your doing. You loved your mother.

AW: Okay.

LCA: You must stop blaming yourself because you are not at fault. It was an accident – not something that you had planned.

AW: But I invited her out.

LCA: Yes, and you were not wrong to invite her out. You could not have known that an accident would have occurred.

AW: Okay. Will these feelings ever go away?

LCA: You might begin to feel better if you forgive yourself for inviting your mother out.

AW: Okay. Will I ever be okay again?

LCA: AW, you are suffering from what is known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is a form of anxiety disorder that occurs after an individual has been exposed to a traumatic event (one that shocks them emotionally), such as witnessing the death of a loved one or a situation that causes them to feel that their life is threatened. Some of the symptoms include flashbacks about the event, increased arousal (being jumpy about everything), and recurrent dreams related to the event, just to name a few. Sometimes these symptoms develop immediately and sometimes they take a while. Also these symptoms may be short-lived or they can last for a long time.

AW: So, do I have to live like this for the rest of my life?

LCA: No, not necessarily. Treatment is available for PTSD, which includes both psychotherapy and medication. So, you will need to see a psychotherapist who is trained in this area immediately. It may also be important for you to get a medical evaluation to rule out other conditions as well.

AW: Okay.

LCA: In addition to PTSD, you have also been grieving about the loss of your mother.

AW: Yes. I miss her so very much. I just can’t seem to get over it.

LCA: The psychotherapist will also help you to come to a place of acceptance about your loss.

AW: Okay.

LCA: I know that this is hard, but your mother would want you to continue to live and enjoy your life.

AW: I agree. She loved me and she loved life. So I will do as you have suggested.

LCA: Okay. Also make sure to eat, exercise, and spend time with your friends and relatives.

AW: Thanks, Life Coach.

LCA: You are most welcome.

Need help with relationship and other problems? Ask DYNACII’s Life Coach, Dr Adams, a licensed clinical psychologist. Please note that all correspondence to the Life Coach is confidential and the cases presented are modified in order to maintain the anonymity of each writer. Dynamic Action Centre International Inc (DYNACII) is a non-governmental organization, committed to social and spiritual empowerment. For more information on DYNACII please visit: http://www.dynacii.com

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