Dealing with PTSD
About 15 months ago I was involved in terrible, terrible car crash. Without going into the details the consensus at the hospital was that if I even managed to survive the night I was brought in (unlikely), I would live the rest of my life with severe brain damage, most likely unable to even move.
Fortunately that's not how things turned out - my medical staff dubbed me "Wolverine" for not only an essentially impossible recovery, but one in record time. Apart from some rather huge scars and a few aches and pains every now and then, physically I'm fine.
Following leaving hospital I threw myself back into normal life with an attitude that can essentially be summed up as "just get on with it".
Things like loud noises, going past car crashes, even seeing them on TV all upset me, which is something I expected.
It wasn't until the last 6 months that things started to escalate - I couldn't get through a single day without having visions of myself dying. Most commonly would be while I was in a car, I would see it drive into oncoming traffic and it would honestly take me a few seconds to realise that this was not in fact happening.
It may sound absolutely stupid, but I accepted all this as "This is how my life is now, I guess this is just me". I was so uninterested and unmotivated and just overall disconnected that nothing registered to me.
Fast forward to the last month, and I have recently gone through a break up with my partner of almost 8 years. I've come to the realisation that I used him to mask a lot of the things I was experiencing from myself (as in, focusing on stuff happening in the relationship, not on my own mental health).
Without that to hide behind, I took a self assessment for PTSD and I hit every potential indicator apart from one (avoidance - I still will get into a car).
I had a bit of a light bulb moment after doing the assessment and a lot of things about my last 15 months make sense now.
I'm starting to look into the option of visiting a professional, however, I want to learn about things I can implement into my personal life myself, whether they be small or large, to help me address having PTSD.
I hope someone here can point me in the right direction (:
Re: Dealing with PTSD
Welcome to ReachOut! Thank you for sharing your story. It can be really challenging to talk about the things that upset us, so kudos to you for being brave and sharing.
I'm really glad to hear you had a quick recovery and that physically, you are pretty much up to scratch. That is amazing and I am sure that you, your family and close friends are very happy about it! Although you are physically doing well, It seems now the the traumatic experience is beginning to bother you psychologically, which is actually very normal.
You mentioned seeking professional psychological help, which in my opinion, is the best option. I recommend going to your GP and asking for a referral to see a mental health practitioner. They should be able to refer you to a suitable practitioner in your area. It might also be a good idea to contact organisations like Beyond Blue, Lifeline or Suicide Call Back Service who might be able provide you with some support and steer you in the right direction for further support
You mentioned wanting advice on strategies you can implement in your life to help your symptoms, right? Generally speaking things like eating well, sleeping well, exercising, meditating, seeking social support, and self-compassion tend to positively impact mental health. It's good that you don't avoid getting into cars - that is because, generally speaking, if you avoid something that you are anxious about then the anxiety will only increase. Unfortunately, however, it is hard to confidently tell you any specific strategies to employ because that is where a professional would come in. What are your thoughts? Do you think you might seek professional advice soon? Is there anything holding you back from seeking professional advice?
Also since you are a new user, i encourage you to checkout our guidelines here. We generally encourage all new users to read our guidelines so that the forums are being used correctly.
Thanks again for joining ReachOut and sharing. We are always willing to listen and help where we can!
Re: Dealing with PTSD
Hi @Theimpossiblegirl! Welcome to the forums!
The car crash sounds terrible but I'm glad you survived. I was diagnosed with PTSD several years ago and experienced some similar things to you. One of the important things I learned was that the event will always be a part of you but there are methods that you can learn to minimise the impact it has on your life and lessen your symptoms. It's normal and okay to have some symptoms from time to time. Seeing a psychologist really helped me. I now think about the positives of my experience and believe that it has made me who I am today.
I think it's a good idea to first identify which symptoms or things are troubling you the most. For example, I learned techniques to help me with nightmares and sleeping difficulties that really helped me. Anyone can do them in the comfort of their home.
Re: Dealing with PTSD
I'm glad that you're physically okay, that must have been awful...
A professional is a great idea, and there are usually a few around who specialize in trauma and PTSD. I'd suggest reading reviews online about anyone before considering if you'll make an appointment, as this can help give you an idea of if they'll work well with you.
One thing that can be helpful for flashbacks is grounding techniques.
There's a list of them on the self harm alternatives thread, on the second page. They can be really good at bringing you back to the present.
Here's the link if you're interested:
It can be a good idea to keep some sour lollies/ strong mints on you. They're easy to carry around and the strong flavor can help interrupt flashbacks.
I sometimes disassociate or get flashbacks while I'm bathing. If I let my mind wander too far while I do that, it always goes back there. I have a small sand timer, I turn it over, and glance at it (not watch it) every now and again. When I notice the timer has run out, I give myself a few moments to "reset", and bring my mind back to what I'm doing, and then turn the timer over again. This might be useful if you get flashbacks while in a car?
When you get a flashback, you could write down what triggered it immediately after it's finished. This can help you and any specialist you see find patterns to the flashbacks that you may not have noticed otherwise.
I hope that some of this is helpful...
Re: Dealing with PTSD
what an ordeal you experienced but im glad your not the way they had anticipated. Like you i have ptsd and experience similar things to you although ive got some different triggers as mine was from a car accident.
Speaking to a professional would be a great idea in helping you learn how to cope with what you experienced and how to manage them in your daily life.
ive found some links that might be helpful for you to have a read of as well as talking to us here
hope some of these help!
Seen something fantastic on the forums?