After a car accident, it’s hard to regain emotional balance, even when not you’re injured. After the initial shock wears off, the reality starts to sink in. Car crashes are common, killing more than a million people each year, but that doesn’t make it easier when it happens to you.
If you’re injured, it means stress, medical bills, lawyers, car repairs, and filing a claim with your insurance carrier. If you’re not injured, you might still have to deal with all the above except for medical bills.
Avoid high-risk roads for a while
After being involved in an accident, you might be afraid to drive at all. Allow yourself time to process the experience, and if that means staying off the roads for a while, that’s okay. People might push you into driving before you’re ready, so stand your ground.
If you feel okay driving short distances, you might be better off avoiding high-risk roads like highways, two-lane roads with no center divider, and interstates. These high-risk roads are the last place you want to experience a trigger from your accident that makes you freeze.
Collisions that occur on interstates result in more severe injuries. According to Becker Law, in 2013, Fayette County’s I-75 and I-65 had 5,173 total collisions, 24 of which were fatal. That’s an average of 14 crashes per day. Multiply that across the country, and the stats for injuries become astronomical.
Driving on high-risk roads can put you at risk for another accident if you get distracted by a flashback or struck with sudden anxiety.
Have a plan to keep your mind occupied in public
In a world where mountains of paperwork reign supreme, you’re used to filling out forms, paying fees, and standing in line to fill out even more forms. The difference is, after a car accident, your psyche might be more fragile, and silence becomes the enemy.
To get through the monotony of those activities, formerly you may have stared blankly at the walls while waiting. After a serious car accident, spending long periods of time in a public setting can become a source of severe anxiety and stress.
When you have to file paperwork in a public settling, bring something with you to occupy your mind. A Sudoku puzzle, a fidget spinner, or even playing games on your phone will work.
If you’re feeling anxious, don’t force yourself to be social
If you feel anxiety creeping in on you and don’t feel comfortable being around other people, don’t force yourself into group situations. On the other hand, don’t wall yourself off from the world. Keep a couple of close friends nearby, and lean on them for support.
Get into counseling
If you’ve been severely injured, you’ll probably experience more stress than you ever have in your life. Not knowing what the outcome will be long-term is nerve-wracking. Some people are paralyzed for life and never walk again. Others deal with lifelong injuries that make daily life a struggle. If you don’t know your situation, the fear of uncertainty is daunting.
Don’t put off counseling. Even if you don’t think you need it, try a couple of sessions and see if it makes a difference for you. You might end up feeling better and want to continue your sessions.
Keep an eye out for signs of PTSD
After a traumatic incident, it’s normal to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Although some people see symptoms right away, for others, it might take months or years to develop.
Unfortunately, you can’t rely on others to point it out for you. Many people don’t know how to recognize the signs of PTSD and mistakenly attribute signs to someone’s personality or circumstances. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek counseling to find out if you might be suffering from PTSD.
No matter how severe your injuries are, staying positive will help you get through hard times. Take each day as it comes and don’t worry about the future. When your mind wanders down the path of regret or depression, allow yourself to feel your emotions and then let them go. Most of all, if your injuries aren’t apparent to others, don’t feel guilty for needing support. Nobody else knows what you’ve been through, but your real friends will support you along the way.