Monday, November 2, 2015

He Lives in My Brain Everyday

CN: PTSD, Car accident

12 years, 1 month, 28 days.  That's how long ago our car accident was, but I still live with irrational fears and panic attacks and will for the rest of my life.  I'll carry with me the damage to my pelvis and lower back forever.  I'll always have knee pain too, but it's the fear and panic that makes life difficult. The memories that exist in my head that I am unaware of will always haunt me. 

To step back, here's the story:
August 3, 2003, my Mom, Grandma and I were in Grandma's Mercury Grand Marquis on Hwy 91N heading toward Brea for my cousin's 28th birthday party.  Traffic slowed, then stopped.  Mom stopped, the person behind us did not.  He was a police officer and was likely intoxicated at the time. He had his 3 kids in the car and refused treatment from the Paramedics.  I was in the back passenger seat.  I remember my Mom saying, "Oh Shit!" and the next thing I remember is her outside of the car cussing out the guy who hit us and trying to get my door open.  I couldn't feel my legs.  The moments between that and me being released from the hospital are vignettes of x-rays, ice, pain and people in white coats.  The axle ended up against my back.  We would later find out I broke my L1/L2 vertebra and pelvis (in 2 places) plus obliterated all the cartilage in my knee (it was pushed into the metal supports of the front seat and resulted in 7 broken ribs in 10 places for my Grandma).  

But here's the thing - I DO remember the accident, every second.  Buried in my subconscious are the sounds, the smells, and the feelings, but they don't reside in my conscious brain.  How do I know they are there?  Because various things will trigger me into a panic attack.  We now own the Marquis that Grandma got as a replacement and I CANNOT sit in that back seat.  Period.  I struggle with PTSD.  It is better than it has ever been, but it will never go away. That's how it works.  So without warning, my subconscious will recognize a sound or feeling and I'm back in that car 12 years ago.  A few weeks ago it was a car crash scene in Sense8 that triggered me into a panic attack.  We did find that if we muted the second scene with the crash, I was okay.  So I guess good on Sense8 for making the scene sound so real?  Today it was rain hitting my side window. Big,  heavy drops that sounded like glass breaking.  I went from singing along to the radio to begging Glen to get my Lorazepam in my purse.  It sucks! It makes me feel out of control and I hate it!  Luckily, I have people in my life who understand and all I have to say was 'this triggered me' and they'll do what they can to calm me down and regain control.  Unfortunately, I have a PCP who thinks Lorazepam is unnecessary, even though I only go through about 3mg per month. 

I'm a control freak - always have been, so this being out of control is terrifying and infuriating.  That driver's decision changed all of our lives FOREVER.  Not just physically, but mentally.  He is always haunting my brain.  I've forced myself to forget his name so I don't obsess, because I will.  That man will always have control over me and I hate it so much.  

I'm a lucky one, my triggers are few and far between now and I've worked hard to gain control again, but so many others aren't so lucky. We treat mental health in this country horribly and PTSD is relegated to sound bites and stories of veterans, but SO MANY others suffer too.  Two people can come through the exact same experience and one develops PTSD while the other doesn't.  Why?  Well, we don't really know.  So yes, I believe in trigger warnings or content notes, because I know how it feels to be triggered. I don't expect someone to do a TW or CN for my triggers and I'm not upset by that, but I feel the more common ones should be addressed.  Most people will still read the article/post/book but they chose a time where they feel mentally ready. This is a GOOD thing! So, you'll see those warnings on my posts because it is literally the least I can do to protect others who live in this state of constant fear. It's a hard road to walk, and I want to make sure their path is safe.