Post Traumatic Stress

In 2001, I was in a ‘near fatal’ car accident. This is the car I was driving…

car

It was a while before I got back behind the wheel. Now, it’s been 7 years and the physical scars from the broken glass have started to fade.

But today I was reminded that there’s another injury that is far from healed. My pastor and I hit the road this morning for a meeting. It was snowing and the roads had not been plowed or salted. His pick up truck slid all over the road. We went up a couple of hills practically sideways and fishtailed in the face of oncoming traffic more than once. Not fun driving conditions for anyone. That’s for sure.

But for me, it was hell.  We got back safe and sound but I’m still recovering from the experience. My back and legs are sore from tensing my muscles for over an hour straight. There are marks on both my hands where my fingernails dug in and there’s a bruise on my lip where I bit it continually.

My pastor knew exactly what was going on and was so kind & encouraging. He is a vietnam vet and he said “I’m still scared of gunshots. These things take time. Don’t be so hard on yourself”

I’m grateful for his words. But during this new chapter of my life when I’m going to be doing a lot more long distance driving, I need – more than ever – to be free of this. If I had been behind the wheel today, I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to force myself to keep going. If I’m going to continue living in this part of the country, I have got to get a grip.

I’d love to hear that there’s a book I can read with 4 easy steps to healing. But I know better.

Can anyone offer advice?

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Posted on November 18, 2008, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Your pastor is right, time is one key, not being so hard on yourself is also a good idea. I also know, from personal experience with a severe accident of my own, that there are reasons for the fear sitting inside you. Something bad, frighteningly so, happened – the question is, what remains? Rooting those fears out and giving them to your Lord is the ultimate solution, and one that can take many paths – from journaling to counseling to healing prayer ministry with a trained intercessor, among other ideas. What is right will depend on any number of factors that you are best to know and understand. I do have contacts for some of those things, and you know how to find me if you want them! In the meantime, I’m praying with understanding, from having been in that place myself!

  2. I was thinking Hummer and snow tires, but what Patti wrote sounds better! Gotta face it and root it out to heal.

  3. cognitive-behavioral therapy (which i’m in) has a good success rate with PTSD. the thing with ptsd, it never really goes away. you just learn better coping skills for handling the panic attacks, stress, etc.

  4. The conditions you described were hazardous and fear after what you have been through is rational. You know first hand what can happen! I second what Patti said and encourage you to look into it. What you said about not being able to go on if you happened to be the one behind the wheel don’t be hard on yourself for feeling that way. Fear does have a purpose in our lives. Sometimes it stops us from doing something unsafe. Pulling over in conditions like that and waiting for the plow to go by could be wise. When I got my first car a wise elderly neighbor told me the same thing that he told his kids. “You are not driving a car, you are driving a 2 ton killing machine if you don’t use it wisely. Be wise!” Every time I get behind the wheel in hazardous conditions I think of His words. I think I have made wiser choices because of it.
    Make yourself as safe as you can by having a car with the best traction you can afford. Always keep the tank full when you know snow is coming, this way if you need to pull over you can and have time to wait and be warm. Keep the cell phone charged and have a friend or two who would be willing to come get you if you needed it. Knowing that you have a safety net often gives us the courage to go on when we are facing fear. You may never call on that friend but knowing they are there offers reassurance. Take care of every little detail that is in your control make yourself as safe as you can be then ask God to take care of the rest. God is so much bigger then our fears. He can heal but often times the journey while painful is more rewarding then the healing. Dealing with the PTSD is the end goal one that will not be resolved quickly. I think it was Rene who said that you learn skills for dealing with it but you are never cured. I have never heard a truer statement. My suggestions are for the time between now and the time when you have learned those skills. Give yourself as much safety as you can and allow yourself to not drive or pull over when the need arises. There is no quick answer and what you are feeling and experiencing is expected after an accident like the one you had. Praying for your journey.

  5. Wow Sara! I didn’t know you were in an accident, let alone something that traumatic!!! I give you credit for facing the fear and getting behind the wheel at all! As people have already mentioned…these things often take time and its ok to have a healthy fear, it keeps us from doing things we shouldn’t. Plus, the more often you expose yourself to your fear and overcome it each time, the less fearful you will be. (Hmm now if i could just take that advice with snakes…lol )

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