This Is What It Feels Like

There is an amazing article in the NY Times about the emotional aftermath of a car accident.  What is amazing about it?  The writer describes in well-written, gripping prose, a vividly detailed account of her mind/body reactions to the trauma.  Anyone who has ever been in a car accident will find something to identify with in this article.  As I read it, I was continually struck by how accurate and well-articulated she was;
all the while drawing the reader in to her experience.  She even used the very language that I hear from my clients, and the explanations that I give back to describe what is happening.  For example:  “Relive, intrusive memory, frozen indifference (that was my favorite phrase), nightmares”.

Most impressive though, is how she links the mind and body together.  She recognizes that both are involved in the injury and the healing.  When trauma occurs the mind/ body freezes.  The usual ‘flow’ gets blocked.  Eventually, symptoms emerge.  “We cannot isolate the brain from life experience and the environment.  They are inextricably entwined.  What happens to us becomes part of us, body and mind.”

Fortunately for her, the flashbacks finally went away.  Unfortunately for her, 10 years later, she still experiences fear, muscle constriction, anxiety, and tension while riding in a car.  Sounds to me like she either didn’t get any or didn’t get enough trauma therapy!

What was your experience like? Do you still feel trauma residue from the accident?  I’d like to hear about it.

Beverly Schwartz, LCSW

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One Comment

  1. Understand that unlike phsyical pain, the pain you are feeling is primarily a state of mind.One way to lessen the pain is to embrace the idea that the pain is part of the healing process and is evidence of forward movement to normal again. You NEED to get mad. You NEED to be sad. You NEED to let those emotions blast out the poison that this discovery has unearthed and after a while (could be a long while) you will be back in control again. It doesn’t happen all at once but it will happen.Another way is to take stock of where you are and just how really damaged you are. If you are not infected with something or pregnant, then planning your strategy from there. If you have had a phsyical ill effect from this act than you need to be honest with yourself and try to see the bigger picture and plan from there. Planning for a resolution is another way to ease the pain. You may find that it makes you madder at first but having a plan will give you a goal and goals are power. Power ultimatly takes away the pain in the end.Whatever happened to you is likely a travesty, but in the end, you are the only person that can render it powerless and make it right for yourself. Take things one step at a time and I know that you will get through it, better and stronger that before.Good Luck and take care.

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