Your anxiety associated with your injured friend does not make you weak. That line of thinking is problematic because it reinforces the all too common narrative that psychological distress is a sign of weakness, shame and embarrassment. To be shaken by the trauma of your friend makes you human and it shows that you care. Someone you deeply care about was severely injured in a serious accident. It was unexpected and proof that our lives can change in an instant. Psychologically, that realization can be difficult to manage.
Your symptoms may be indicative of secondary trauma. Secondary trauma involves an indirect exposure to trauma through hearing the first-hand account or narrative of a traumatic event. Simply hearing about the traumatic event can cause symptoms and reactions that are very similar to or even mimic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Treatments for secondary trauma often involves sharing the story of what happened and talk therapy.
It would be helpful to learn more about compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and self-care. Books on the subject can educate you about day-to-day activities that may help to relieve your stress. I would also recommend counseling for learning relaxation and other techniques to assist with your anxious reactions. Choose a therapist who specializes in trauma survivors. You may only need a few sessions to decrease your symptoms. Good luck. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle