I mentioned in Chapter 9 that I was dealing with solicitors about my accident. It is very early days and I cant say too much as there is nothing to say- I don't know what will happen but whatever happens, win or lose, I might finally get closure.
There are a lot of things I can say, I've now seen the police report which include pictures of my car at the scene. I've also been assessed by expert Ophthalmologist, Maxillofacial surgeon, Neurologist, Neuropsychologist and Neuropsychiatrist. I've now been sent reports from all of these and finally had things confirmed, things I've known the whole time, things confirmed that I didn't know 100% and then completely new information. I'll talk about all these in the next chapter.
In the past year, I started to feel unwell when I was a passenger in a car, I've always been travel sick and can't sit in the back, even when I sit in the front I have to take travel sickness pills. This was different. I felt light headed, like I couldn't swallow and a really dry mouth even after a drink, I couldn't hold my head up properly and felt shaky, I found it hard to catch a breath and because it felt like I couldn't swallow, it felt hard to breathe. When I got out of the car, I would have jelly legs and would have to hold on to something. 5 minutes after getting out of the car, I felt better. When I was driving myself (I've never got travel sick when I've driven), I started to feel unwell, not as bad as when I'm a passenger luckily, otherwise I wouldn't be able to drive. I would get really hot and feel like my throat was shutting off, couldn't get enough saliva to swallow. As a driver and as a passenger, I couldn't wait to get out of the car.
It turns out, these are panic attacks! Why? I'm not panicking about anything.
I was told that because I'd started to find out more about the accident, it had made it real which its never been before. I'd seen the police report and the pictures- my smashed up car at the scene with no roof, with my blood, lots of it on the road and in the car foot-well. The accident was being spoken about and what might have happened, the Police don't know what happened. I was taking all of this in, information I've not heard before about the accident that I don't remember.
Without me knowing, subconsciously I was associating a car with an accident! I wasn't consciously doing it, not once, not even now do I worry before I get in a car. 5 minutes later, I need to get out. Now, again, I've got a problem thanks to my brain! My brain is worried, I'm not. The brain that won't let me remember the accident is now freaking out about that accident and making me feel like this. How is that fair?
From my Psychologist, I got some tips to try and help.
- Don't avoid being a passenger, that will make it worse.
- Give myself a talk before a journey- things like, nothing bad has ever happened before when I'm a passenger, why should it now? I can say something similar when I'm driving myself- yes something bad did happen when I was driving but I don't remember it, I'm here and I can still drive, in the 14 years I've been driving one bad thing has happened, an accident, what makes me think that anything like that would ever happen again?
- Focus on things around me- look at things I might never have paid any attention to before, notice colours, open the window- what can I smell? Just focus my mind on other things rather than my own thoughts.
- Listen to music, have a sing along. If I have a passenger, talk to them.
The main aim was to focus my mind rather than it wandering into what-ifs. It's mad that consciously I wasn't worried yet as soon as the car moves, my mind automatically wanders into bad thoughts, I feel unwell and start to think about how bad I'm feeling.
Still after all of that, I still didn't realise that I was thinking about the accident. Day to day, even now I don't think about it, well I don't think I do. I'm not sure whether I'm trying to block it out so much that I can only think about it subconsciously, or I think about it so much that I refuse to accept that I am. Don't get me wrong, it hit me hard seeing those pictures and reading the report, yes I cried but only once. Have I accepted it? Can I accept it?
I'm doing a bit better in a car now especially as a driver. Occasionally I start to feel unwell so I take some deep breaths, turn the radio up and have a sing along, a majority of the time I feel ok. I haven't avoided being a passenger, I've just been using all the tips I've got and they seem to be working. I am on edge slightly and I don't enjoy the drives particularly, but as long as I don't feel like I'll pass out, that's ok. I was tested recently, I was a passenger in the car to go to Scotland for a few days, then the return journey. 10 hours there, 9 hours back!!!! I hated every minute of it, I made sure I used all the tips, took travel sickness pills and sat in the front. I got excited every time we stopped at services- I could get out! But I managed that long in the car and didn't feel anywhere near as ill as I did a few months ago. Progress!
I just wish I didn't feel like it at all. I'm hoping that eventually it will all go away, I think I've got all the information about the accident that I'll ever get, there's no more pictures to be seen so my problems shouldn't get any worse. If I could remember the accident, I would understand why I felt like this! But I don't remember so still don't really understand why I feel like this.
Think its safe to say that in this circumstance, my Brain definitely hates me.
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