PTSD (not military) and Acknowledgment

I was in a major car accident in late March, and since then I am so grateful to be alive. I walked away with injuries to my neck and upper back, but I walked away from the worst accident I’ve been in. One of my best friends right after the accident suggested that I will probably have PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder). Which, of course, I blew off.   I will explain below.  I just realized, months later, that I do, indeed, probably have PTSD.

Let me be clear I am NOT comparing my PTSD with those who are, or have been, in the military. I know several people both active or former military that served in the military and some of them have PTSD, and that is fundamentally different from mine. I could not imagine how haunting some of the circumstances they have been in would be for me. Both have lasting affects.

Stolen from Facebook. I don't know who, but I love it.

I didn’t think I had it.  I didn’t process much emotion during this whole ordeal except a few times. I thought I had dodged at least bullet out of this ordeal. It wasn’t until I got and read the police report that it sunk in how close it was. If the light had changed a second sooner, it would have been a full on t-bone collision.  And I, most likely, wouldn’t be alive to write this. However, one of my best friends said something to me the other day that struck so deep that I didn’t even give a half smile. I gave a full on grimace. He was listing my injuries to a police friend of his and at the end “and almost had to see a psychiatrist due to not being able to paddle [be on the water] for months”. I not only gave a full on grimace, I stood military straight and whispered, “that is not funny. It is not remotely funny.”

To which he responded, “because it’s true.”
I said, “yes because it’s true […]I also added, ‘he could have killed me for no reason’.”  The first responder in Bath, Pennsylvania, who wasn’t responding to a call almost killed me.

As I said, I am very grateful to be walking and talking considering the damage of the accident. But for an extensive period of time (almost 7 weeks), I lost my mobility, my car, and independence because I had to bring a friend to evaluate used cars for me to replace my destroyed, beloved Honda Fit. I am not writing this to gain sympathy. I am writing this because for the first time since the accident, I am realizing that my trauma goes much deeper than just my physical injuries.

fb car pic

Taken the night of the accident.

For the over 150 of my friends on Facebook who have seen the picture above and wished me well either through a comment or private messaging, I thank you. It meant more than you know, especially because I didn’t post it to my timeline.   It was one of the most humbling and amazing experiences of my life.

I thought PTSD was something only soldiers, first responders, and the like suffered from it. I still really don’t know what it means to me because I just figured out I had it. I just know that people with it shouldn’t feel alone and/or shouldn’t feel like they can’t talk about it. It happens, it’s real, let’s acknowledge it.

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20 thoughts on “PTSD (not military) and Acknowledgment

  1. I’m a 21-year career Soldier who suffers from PTSDS, I was a chaplain so I was never engaged in direct combat, I did not shoot anyone nor was I blown-up. However, I did have experiences that brought on my PTSD. I can understand the thought that somehow your PTSD is not on the same level as military PTSD. What I have learned over times is that while all of our dramatic experiences are unique to ourselves all of our experiences with PTSD are common. It does not matter how or what brought on your PTSD. What matters is the symptoms of PTSD is just as debilitating for all of us no matter what caused our PTSD. Please don’t ever feel that your struggle with PTSD is any less then my struggle. There will always be people who will claim their PTSD is more legitimate than someones else’s. But what I have discovered is most people with PTSD don’t look down on others because of their “cause” of PTSD. We are all in the same boat and on the same journey. It does not matter how or when we got on the boat, what matters is that we are on it together.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love this perspective, and it makes so much sense. Thank you for your service and for taking the time to give feedback. The more I learn about the syndrome, the more I realize how we’re all the same in terms of effect. #bettertogether

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  2. Pingback: Five years: Choices, Gauntlets and Life | AKponderings

  3. Lots of non-military people get PTSD – I had it too after a car accident. There were other factors. It had a profound effect on my life and has led me (eventually) to being a professional artist. The road has been very, rocky indeed and quite exhausting. I found EMDR therapy was a godsend. Five years later and I still feeling the effects and consequences of it.

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  4. I was diagnosed with PTSD two years after my car wreck, and I am so glad that it did not take that long for you! I relate to not thinking I could have lasting trauma effects because I thought PTSD was something that happened to people in combat, not to people whose cars lose traction and get smashed. I also didn’t “fit” the symptoms I read about. My diagnosis was both a burden and a relief, and nearly a year and a half of therapy later I am still finding my triggers. However, I have matured so much as a person and have really leaned into the pain and grief that have been part of my experience. I like who I am now so much more than who I was before my diagnosis and therapy and I have a profound appreciation for beauty – like when people acknowledge the trauma they have experienced, open themselves to healing and reach a hand out to others. You are brave, and you are doing an amazing thing to speak about your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I apologize for the delay. You described it perfectly, and thank you for taking the time to comment. I am in tears. I never thought my blog would touch people like it has. This was a hard entry to write, and even harder to hit the publish button. Thank you for your support. I am so glad you are getting better. *hugs*
      In the past five years, obviously before the accident, I have learned that pain and grief propel a person into their true selves. It’s painful, it sucks, but it’s beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for sharing. I too suffer from PTSD due to a motor vehicle accident. It has been a difficult road this past year and I have just started blogging about it. My heart goes out to you. You are not alone in this fight. Big hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so glad to hear that you’re writing about this. Hope it helps you on the road to recovery. Asking for help when you need it is a sign of courage. Hope this helps others suffering, too

    Liked by 2 people

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