It all came tumbling down

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Trigger warning: This post could be triggering to some, please read with caution.

I am in a bit of a dark place right now. I am crying a bit as I write this but I need to get it out. I am really having a hard time right now. More so than I ever would have imagined. The car accident has really affected me in more ways then I could ever really have realized. I have become depressed, anxious and having panic attacks, all things that I really thought I had put behind me, that I had gotten under control and then even seemed to have pretty much disappeared. I have been doing so well, even through some pretty rough and tough times. I have been off medication years and not having many symptoms of anxiety and none of depression at all.

Well, it all came crashing down the day before yesterday when I was driving on my way into work in Bridgetown (I will get into that later in the post more) and I will admit I have been nervous since the accident and even to the point of crying or shaking a little bit while driving. I have had nightmares and just your typical nervousness or anxiety after an accident, or so I thought. We picked up the rental on Tuesday (a week ago) and I drove it to Digby with Eddie in the car with me to get a coffee for him than home. I drove him into work Wednesday and drove back and was nervous but nothing major, at least I don’t think. Mom picked me than him up that night cause I accidentally locked myself out of the car and house.

Thursday I had to work at 9:15 or 9:45 I can’t remember. I left about an hour early and was going down the old highway. At some point, while driving I remember thinking about the accident and I started crying. I am not sure why, hitting deer around here is quite common and there are always ones along the road along with skunks, raccoon, porcupines and sometimes bears. You see it all the time. Lots of drivers hit deer and while you feel bad about it (it’s not my first time) you get your car fixed and you move on. If you have injuries they heal and you move on. For some reason though this really bothered me that the dear walked away injured.

Department of Natural Resources said they don’t try to do anything if they wander back into the woods they just leave them be, let nature take its course. Makes sense I guess. I just can’t get the sight of the deer standing in front of me staring straight at me out of my mind though or the feel of the car hitting it. I didn’t see it coming. I never saw it to the left of me at all. I did not see it till it was standing still in front of me caught in the headlights as its head turned towards me.

So anyways, on Thursday this crossed my mind a few times as I was driving and I found tears rolling silently down my cheek which progressed to light sobs, all the way into work. I got there, parked, wiped the tears off my cheeks, took a deep breath and walked from the parking lot into work. It was bitter cold. So I figured the redness in my face could be explained by the cold or maybe I didn’t even really think about it. I’m not sure.

Work went okay. I was really sore and had a hard time getting up onto my chair and my abdomen and hip were really hurting. By 5 o’clock I was glad to be heading home and was exhausted. I had been asked to work in Annapolis the next day. They needed someone and my manager, aware I was sore and tired thought it might be better. So I left for home and it was almost dark by then, just a little bit of light left. All the way home I kept seeing things everywhere and I was really nervous and jumpy and again found myself half sobbing all the way home.

Friday I worked 1-5 in Annapolis. I will admit I was excited to work in a new branch and to learn some new things. I took Eddie to work for about 10, he worked at 11 but wanted to be early. I had 3 hours to kill and was hungry but didn’t want breakfast at McDonalds so I drove the short distance out to Point Prim Lighthouse and walked to few feet needed to just be able to see the lighthouse, the ocean, the cliffs and Victoria beach across Digby Gut.

I had been feeling pretty down since the accident and even before that ever since the aftermath of having my tooth pulled. I had so much anxiety about getting it pulled and then everything that happened after just increased my anxiety overall. So I was thinking the view before heading to work would cheer me up a bit and the fresh cold wintery air might just help me feel a bit better.

I left there, got food and headed to Annapolis taking my time. I was fine through the 50 & 60 km areas. But after getting on the highway as I got up to 70, 80, 90 and closer to 100 I started shaking and feeling really anxious again. I drove as far as Smith’s cove and got off the highway onto the old road, that part’s mostly 50, 60 & 70 km and the road is windy. So I went slow and my anxiety eased a little. Eventually, that ends and you have to go back onto the highway and over the Bear River bridge, I did and then I went off the Deep Brook exit and headed past my place and up the old road into Annapolis. Before I even got past my place I was shaking and crying lightly again. I pushed on and got to Annapolis, parked, dried my eyes and went to work. The way home was much of the same.

The weekend we didn’t go very far. I’m still in a fair bit of pain and really sore all over. I think that the accident has probably caused a Fibromyalgia flare. So I am really in pain pretty much all over. I am suffering from really bad fatigue, I outright feel depressed. I don’t want to do anything or go anywhere. I don’t even really want to leave the house. I think we went out once and it was much the same, anxiety and tears but we got were we were going and made it home.

Fast forward to Monday morning. I was scheduled to work in Bridgetown for 9:45. I started out early about 8:30 because I knew I was anxious and would likely get teary and drive slow. It was much of the same. I got to just before Bridgetown and was driving by a farmhouse with a big tree in the front yard. There was a flock of birds in the branches of the tree and as I drove by they startled and flew in front and over the car. I could see them coming at me and gliding over the top of me and over my hood and in front of the car down low in front of the grill. Well to put it politely it scared the living shit out of me. I thought I heard a clunk. I wasn’t sure if I hit anything.

I started screaming, and then crying and shaking all the while still driving at about 85 to 90km on the road. The tears started coming hot and fast, I started sobbing to the point I couldn’t catch my breath. I knew that about half a kilometer or so down the road on the left-hand side just around the bend that I could see that there was a church and a big parking lot and there was no one else on the road. So through my tears, I kept driving and pulled off at the church checking to see no one was coming at me. At this point, the sobs were coming hard and fast and I could barely see. I figured I just needed to pull over, let it out and then calm down and move on. Boy as I ever wrong.

I couldn’t stop sobbing. There were more of the same birds, I think they are called Brewer’s Blackbirds, in the yard of the church and they kept stirring and flying to the trees and back and every time they did I would start sobbing and even screaming all over again. I had put the car in park but it was still running as it was kinda cold and I had the heated seat on. My legs at this point were really tingling and I felt week. I called my mom as I knew at this point I couldn’t drive any further. When sobbing really hard I would close my eyes and I would see the bridge ahead of me (even though it’s 35-40 km away) with the deer between me and the bridge and it stopped and was staring at me as my car bore down on it. I could see look in its eyes, even though I am not even sure I ever did. Maybe that parts just my imagination.

Mom tried to calm me down. I am asthmatic as well and crying, hyperventilating or panicking will often set off an asthma attack as well, so of course, she was concerned. She tried for a few minutes to calm me down and when she couldn’t and I was just hyperventilating worse and worse she asked me where I was. I told her as best I could in between sobs and hyperventilating and she told me that she was coming to get me. At that point my manager called me from Bridgetown (it was still early and I was not late yet), I answered and she asked me what was wrong because  I was still sobbing and still hyperventilating to a point. I tried to explain. I told said my mom was on the other line. She said she would hang up but for me to text her when I was okay.

Only I never was okay. It just got worse and worse. Mom and Dad climbed in the truck and kept the phone on speaker and headed out towards me but they were at best 50 minutes away. I was getting worse and could barely feel my legs and my fingers were going tingly. At this point, while trying to talk to me in which I was only responding in between screams, sobs, etc with one or two words or even grunts, she and dad decided to hang up and call 911. While they were on the phone with 911 I had managed to hit the hazard lights on the car and I turned it off because I couldn’t find the hand brake, thankfully it was only a button to turn it off and after a few tries, it worked.

Apparently an ambulance going back to its base in Bridgetown went by me (I didn’t notice) and they thought it looked off and were in the process of turning around just down the street when they actually got the call from 911 to go back to the church. So they there pretty quick after mom called. I had hit the unlock button as things were starting to get bad just in case I passed out thankfully. They got there parked and came out. There were two of them, a young guy named Travis and a young woman named Emily. Travis climbed in the passenger side beside me and Emily came around the driver’s side to my window which either Travis or I got rolled down, not even sure which.

They tried for what felt like hours but which they told me later was about 35 minutes to calm me down. At first, I was gasping for air and hyperventilating still and every time I closed my eyes I would see the deer and/or hear the birds and I would start all over again. Slowly they got me calmed down a bit then the birds would fly around or make sound and I would start screaming again. Finally, they got me calmed down enough to get me sitting with my feet outside the car and they brought the stretcher over and I tried to get on it but my legs gave out and Travis leaned forward and caught me. I remember him saying laughingly “okay, you are going to give me a great big hug now and I am going to lift you and guide you to the stretcher”.

After getting me on the stretcher they got me in the ambulance and hooked up to the heart rate monitor, blood pressure cuff and oxygen monitor. My heart rate when they got me in there was in the high 160s, my respiration was in the high 30’s/low 40’s and my oxygen was in the low 90s. They showed me each of them and told me where we needed to get them and that I had control and that with their help I could get them back where they should be. They tried some breathing techniques which were starting to work but then I would hear the birds outside again and start to panic again. They were concerned about my heart rate and said it was tachycardic so they did an EEG which also showed the same thing but showed nothing else wrong.

Emily climbed in the front and started driving and Travis stayed in the back with me and continued to try and get me calmed down. We both watched as my heart rate and respirations climbed and my oxygen dropped as she picked up speed so he called into the doctor who told them to turn off the lights and slow down as he figured that was adding to my anxiety after that Travis was able to really talk to me and calm me down and I was doing a lot better by the time they got me there. They took me through triage and got me in a wheelchair and by then mom was there and I was put out in the waiting room.

We ended up waiting for quite a while (not uncommon even coming in via ambulance, still have to be triaged as someone walking in could still be sicker). Finally, we saw the doctor. I explained everything that happened that morning and over the last few days since the accident and about the accident itself and about everything that happened with my tooth and also about my history of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. He diagnosed me with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and gave me a prescription for Ativan for 10 days and suggested I see a counselor and that I follow up with my family doctor as soon as possible.

He also figured I would benefit from being put back on some medication for depression and anxiety but thought it would be more beneficial for my family doctor who knows my history and what drugs have worked in the past to be the one who prescribed them. He gave me a note for that day and the next but suggested I take more time off work and to talk to my family doctor about how long, but said he did not think I should be driving right now or working at the moment either. He was concerned about how I would be able to handle difficult customers, difficult situations and the impact it would have on my mental health at the moment.

While waiting to see the doctor at the ER my mom called my family doctor’s office in Halifax as she had to go up there yesterday to see a doctor in the same office for something so she wanted to see if she could get me in and bring me up. He just happened to be on call yesterday and she was told to call back in the morning. So we headed up to Halifax yesterday morning. She gave me a half of one of her Ativan as we had not filed the prescription for mine yet and wanted to talk to my doctor first. The way up was hard. I really had a hard time but Dad came with us as well and was in the back seat of the truck and they did their best to distract me and we stopped a lot so I could get out and move around.

My doctor also agreed that I was suffering from what he called a post-traumatic adjustment disorder which appears to be similar but not quite the same. He also suggested seeing a psychologist and also agreed that I should not be working at the moment due to the stress and my overall mental health from not just the accident but all the stuff leading up to it such as my uncle’s death in October, the tooth extraction which as he said in itself for me is super traumatic as I have a phobia of dentists and dental procedures and when I was forced to go due to the crown falling out and then having such a horrible extraction and then the experiences after it with the dry socket, infections, swelling and nerve injury and then the car accident and my fear of driving and getting into moving vehicles.

He really figured I should get a grip on it before going back to work. He also said the same thing as the other doctor about how I would react to stress at work such as issues with a client or difficult situations and thinks that I should be off until at least after Christmas to give myself some time to get situated with counseling and seeing a psychologist. He did not prescribe me anything which was something I was really hoping he was. I really feel I need something to help cope. Something to help with the depression and anxiety and maybe even help inadvertently with the pain from fibromyalgia as a lot of the same medications are prescribed.

However, he said that he felt and that it has been proven that medications don’t usually help for these “situational” depressions, anxieties and panic attacks. He didn’t really seem to take into consideration my history at all. Which is of Depression, anxiety and panic disorder both as well as Agoraphobia which I managed to overcome years ago and have had no issues with. He suggested as well that I get into physio and get assessed for my injuries from the accident as I was really sore and tender and he thought I had some soft tissue injuries that needed to be addressed.

I will admit I have had no outright suicidal thoughts. Nothing serious as thinking about doing it or how to do it, etc. I have however had some pretty dark thoughts about worst-case scenarios of what could have happened with the accident, which I am sure would happen to a lot of people. I have even caught myself wishing at times that I had died or at the very least sometimes I just wish I could disappear and not have to worry about anything. Does that mean I wish myself dead? I don’t really know. I think more just that I was thinking along the lines of just not having to deal with all this and not having to worry about anything more so than dying or killing myself.

It concerns me some but I have talked to my doctor, who honestly just brushed over it as being situational and my parents who are more concerned and my husband who is more concerned as well. I am not suicidal. I would not do anything. I would never put them through that. I am however concerned about my mental health and I am in a bit of a dark place right now…

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3 thoughts on “It all came tumbling down

  1. I was involved in a really bad car wreck when I was 17 and almost died. I had a ruptured spleen and uterus, lost a lot of blood, and had to have multiple surgeries and 6 blood transfusions. At the time I was not driving, my boyfriend was. I was merely a passenger and had actually been asleep up until he lost control of the car. We pretty much collided into a warehouse.

    As a result of this, I have amaxophobia and vehophobia. I still don’t know how to drive. I never learned and any time I have made attempts at getting behind the wheel of a car, I have really bad panic attacks and sometimes asthma attacks. The crazy thing about my asthma is that I wasn’t always asthmatic. I was diagnosed months after the accident. According to my doctor, the trauma from the accident awakened a dormant asthma gene. How bizarre is that? Anyway, at the time of the accident, I didn’t think to see a therapist about it. I was already seeing a bereavement therapist because I’d lost a loved one in the accident. Years passed by and my fear evolved into ptsd. I’m 35 years old and I really want to learn to drive but it’s just so difficult. My fear of actually being in cars has improved, which is really good for me. But it would be even better if I could get rid of my fear of driving.

    1. I am so sorry for all you went through. Thank you for sharing. It does help to know someone else understands. I am having a hard time getting into a vehicle and have not driven since the panic attack in the car. I have had several panic attacks since then. I know I need to talk to someone but there is no one here, unfortunately. I really do hope you can work on your fear of driving and learn how to drive.

  2. As a mental health advocate and someone living with PTSD, anxiety, and depression, I can tell you it’s not something that can be cured. You were doing really well, and I can understand the feeling of falling back into depression. Don’t beat yourself up for having those feelings again though. You went through something traumatic, and it’s natural to feel traumatized because of it. You should feel strong that you can identify your symptoms now, and hopefully, get help for it. I encourage you to seek out therapy if you feel it would be more helpful. My primary care doctor refused to treat my mental health at all, so I know that feeling. I wish you the best and hope you’re feeing better soon!

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