Burglars Stole Peace of Mind

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

When i was very young we were burgled whilst me, my parents and brother were in the house at night. After this event i had huge difficulty sleeping and became very anxious of being home alone and sleeping in a room on my own. I was even too scared to go across to my parents bedroom for comfort. I often have to go to sleep with the television on.

I received counseling for this for about 6 months after it happened but did not find it very beneficial. 8/9 years later i am still very afraid of being home alone and we have moved house since. I think i hear noises outside when often there probably isnt. I still have trouble sleeping and often have nightmares of strange people being in the house. I am very cautious of strange people when out in public and am a very shy person. I am nervous when out on my own and try to do everything in company. Often when at home at night i am scared to look out the window incase there is someone there. I make sure all the doors are locked when possible. I am a lot happier in the day than night.

Also, when i hear people speak of experiences of burgularies or bad things happening involving strangers i feel my heart pounding and i can’t control the fear and the feelings just won’t leave my hear so i really wind myself up!

I don’t feel the problem is awful and that something necissarily has to be done. But i feel i am slowly getting more nervous and wondered if there is anything i could do to help this? It would be nice to be more independant and less afraid! I also find myself very reliant on my boyfriend and can’t stand being single. Thank you

A: I disagree. I think this is an awful problem. You shouldn’t resign yourself to living a life in fear. You have every right to be furious with the burglars who stole your peace of mind. You have every right to want a life that isn’t dominated by memories of a traumatic event that happened almost a decade ago.

I know the therapy at the time wasn’t helpful. But please don’t write off therapy. It could be that you and the thereapist weren’t a good “fit” or that your little-girl self wasn’t able to take full advantage of treatment. Look for a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress. A therapist can help you come to terms with what happened and learn new ways to strengthen your ability to cope with life’s challenges.

I also suggest you take a look at David Burns’s book, “Feeling Good.” He talks about ways to manage overwhelming anxiety in part of the book.

I wish you well.
Cr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Feb 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Burglars Stole Peace of Mind. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/02/20/burglars-stole-peace-of-mind/