Yvonne Locke is a first year student in the public relations program at Humber College. Follow Yvonne on Twitter: @vonnielocke
What the hell just happened? That’s the first thing that circled my mind after my car was hit and rolled over onto its roof.
I was routinely on my way to school last October, ready to hand in an essay I had slaved all week over, when a big, obnoxious Dodge Journey swerved into my car’s passenger side to avoid somebody who had cut it off. I remember sitting upside down in my car, listening to people shout commands like “somebody call the police!” and “get her out of the car!” I heard the bystanders talking to me; however, I couldn’t respond. Instead, I looked around, stunned, and unable to speak.
Of course the scary thought of my dad screaming at me for destroying his car came to mind, but aside from that, the first couple of thoughts to enter my mind, in no particular order, were: What happens now? Where do I go? How am I going to get the car out of traffic’s way? Who deals with the mess? How am I going to get my assignment in on time now?
These are a good variety of questions, aren’t they? For one thing, they certainly don’t sound like the words of someone who had just been rolled over in a car. You would think it would go more along the lines of: Am I bleeding anywhere?! What if I pass out?! How come my heart is pounding so hard?! Where is the ambulance?!”
I didn’t pass out. My hand had bled a little bit from a few glass cuts. Aside from that, my mind kept pulling me back into routine and was not accepting the fact that something serious had happened.
A day later, every emotion had hit me like a brick. Being involved in a car accident, at fault or not, is quite a traumatic experience. If you’ve been in one, you know. From my experience, I’ve put together a list of 5 ways to overcome to crazy emotions of a car accident:
- Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Even if you were at fault, mistakes are experiences, and you are learning. Okay, it happened, but you’re not the only person in the world who’s rear-ended somebody. Even if the driver is irate, just take a breath. We can’t do anything about him or her, but at least we can get through the process calmly by relaxing and understanding that driving is all about gaining experience – the good and the bad. A good resource to check out for this is Achieve Solutions.
- Your health comes first – so treat it that way.
Don’t ignore that twinge in your back or constant head ache. You may be overwhelmed with paperwork and calls, but if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. Ask yourself important questions:
- Do I have any new symptoms since the accident?
- Have I thoroughly explained the extent on my injuries to my insurance company?
- How is my overall health since the accident?
- Reach out to sources for support.
Counselling after being involved in a car accident is commonly needed, so make sure to do it if you need it! Friends and family can be great counsellors, but if you believe you’re suffering from something more than a bit of stress from the insurance companies, don’t hesitate to seek counselling from a professional. I suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for three weeks after my accident, and let me tell you, it was scary. One minute, I was depressed and angry at people for no reason; the next, I was crying hysterically and could not provide an answer for people as to why. To find out more information and find helpful resources, visit the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website.
- Take extra time to relax and do things you like.
It is important to keep yourself in a positive state of mind. This means taking for time to do things you love. Think to yourself:
- What hobbies that I love am I capable of doing right now?
- How can I relax? Visit a spa? Get my nails done? Watch a movie with a friend?
This will help you recover emotionally and get back into routine.
- Understand that soon everything you have to worry about will be over.
Dealing with the paperwork after a car accident is annoying and time consuming. Remind yourself that soon the nightmare will be over and everything will be back to normal soon.
Finally, I want to end this list by asking you a question. If you have ever been involved in an accident, how did you cope? What worked for you?