We all have a system for coping and healing. Just like when we cut our finger and it closes up and heals, our minds and spirits are designed to heal. When our system is working well, the things that happen might upset us or make us angry, but after we get some sleep, and maybe talk to supportive friends or family, we start to connect with our ability to move forward, and we naturally heal.
But any deeply distressing or disturbing experience can overwhelm our natural coping and healing system, causing trauma. And trauma can cause very unpleasant and frightening symptoms, including: unwanted, upsetting memories; flashbacks where it feels like you are reliving the event; nightmares; avoiding anything that reminds you of what happened; feeling numb or hopeless; loosing interest in things or people you used to enjoy; memory problems; trouble concentrating; trouble sleeping; angry outbursts; feeling always on guard or easily startled. It is important to realize that these and other symptoms of trauma are not voluntary. You can’t just tell yourself to “get over it,” or you would have already. These are survival symptoms and behaviors that are no longer helping you.
It is the same with anxiety symptoms. You might be scared of snakes, afraid of going to the dentist, nervous when you meet new people, worried you will mess up, or feel anxious or panic most of the time. That fear and anxiety is stuck, and it’s not your fault.