Breath after nearly dying: it changes a person.
I’m a happy person. I smile often and try to encourage the same from others. But this time, I went the wrong way. I quickly became irritable, miserable, and depressed–and I had no intention of fixing myself.
I’ve spent my life reflecting the emotions of my friends, as so many do. If my friend is sad, I am sad. If my friend is excited, I am too. (This is my biggest affliction: I care for, rather than about. This is dangerous and I do not recommend it.)
I have been struggling. Physically, emotionally, mentally.
It’s been rough.
It’s been rough because I’ve been acting like it hasn’t been rough.
Vague it up, right?
This is not the first, nor is it the last time I will bring up the car accident that changed me. I was lucky, and I do not take this for granted. After it was all over, I had the annoying (no other way to describe it) task of telling the people who loved me and were loved by me. I made sure they knew that I was alright and that I did feel lucky. And in many ways, I did feel lucky.
In many ways, I didn’t.
I felt lost. Confused. Scrambling. The world kept moving, as I knew it would–though I had hoped it would wait for me. Classes kept going and I fell behind. I had recurring nightmares about the car accident, waking only when the semi-truck was about to kill me. I stopped caring about basically everything that was once important to me. It took effort to listen to someone telling me about their petty troubles. I never had to work to care before. All I wanted was for someone to feel my pain for me, like I had been doing for them all my life. I wanted them to take my hurt. My counselor told me that it was PTSD. Clearly it was a mild case.
In the weeks following the accident, I got a lot of over-dramatic sympathy from acquaintances, and I was overwhelmed by the love pouring at me from friends and family. In a sick way, all that love made me grateful that I had almost died–in a very sick way. All I have ever wanted was for someone else to put the effort into friendship that I do. However, I was given a reality punch in the face:
The world wouldn’t care forever.
My body continued to ache. I continue to remember.
That said, I am no longer living it. I have gotten better emotionally, and this has actually led to increased activity and the resulting improvements in my physical health. The dreams are gone, the fear of merging onto the interstate has vanished, I can walk long distances without knotting up my shoulders and back, and I am back to normal. Being outside and breathing fresh air could make me feel better, again. This was not because I took any extreme psychological methods to heal my mind and body. I just decided that I would have to get over it.
I gave myself time to mope and time to reevaluate my entire life. I let myself be sad for a long time, and then I decided that I would do much better to focus on the part of this whole thing that was a blessing. The PTSD diagnosis was temporary and I was getting better. I allowed myself to talk to my family and friends. Everything would be okay.
Yeah, “deciding to get over it” was not a cure-all. The decision itself really did nothing other than convince myself that I would, in time, get past it. Making the decision to get better was not the cure. The resulting hope was what saved me.