and under His wings you will find refuge. His faithfulness
will be a protective shield.
Let me begin this book by saying that never in my life did I think that a car wreck would bring me to the place that I am in my life now. I still feel that no one understands me completely. The things they take for granted have become like sweet blessed rain on dry parched ground to me now. Everything to me has become magnified more than ever before in my entire life.
When I am in a really ‘good’ place with conversation with someone I hold dear, and that is many, one of us must get back to what we were doing. Life has started running at a faster pace than before. The many people I cherish and that have all been placed in my path through life for some reason in my life; their lives are moving faster than ever before in my mind. My father once told me that as I got older that life would go by faster. That is so true, but since the wreck it has been running faster than if I were on ‘speed’, (a drug from the 80’s kids).
My Christian faith has held me together and kept me from falling completely apart along with my family gluing me back together. Since the wreck, I have had to face many other things that I have been unprepared for. I was diagnosed with kidney cancer and with kidney cancer it can only be treated by surgery, they discovered 2 years after the wreck that I had multiple broken bones in my face that were all in my sinuses that was causing the chronic sinus infections so surgery again, and the wreck had caused a complete tearing away of the rotor cuff in my shoulder and everything else that should be attached so I had to have a total reverse shoulder replacement. My father’s chronic lymphatic leukemia came out of remission and he had to go through chemotherapy again. I hated this for him and cried constantly when I was not with him. I dislocated and fractured my left elbow when I fell on my back deck when I needed to be in St. Louis with my precious aunt because my uncle was so ill. My uncle passed away, my uncle that was so very special to me. He knew the Bible backward and forward and he was always my Bible mentor. I miss him so, and I worry about my aunt. I do not know how she goes on without him. My daughter had a new baby after they thought their family was complete and while it brought great joy; it also brought a lot of tears. So, within two years, there was a lot going on in my life.
But I serve a mighty God and He had plans for me that not even I could imagine. Do I believe in Divine healing, you bet I do. But in some things, that life puts us through, I thoroughly believe that God has a plan for all of us to learn some valuable lessons during our journey. Plans that only He could design for my life. Plans I will reveal to you at the end of the 50 things you should know about PTSD in a Civilian – I Am Not a Soldier.
- You will never be yourself again
I can promise you that. No matter what they tell you. You will regain some semblance of normalcy, but inside you are changed forever. I went from a tough lady to a jelly fish. And when I say that, I do not mean it as a bad thing. I am just trying to give you an idea of the character of my person before the wreck to what I was after the wreck.
- There seems to not be any psychiatric help for anyone with PTSD unless you are a soldier
At least not in the area I live in; unless you want to drive 10 hours and when you can’t stand to drive or ride with anyone else, what good does that do you? Believe me when I say this, I am not jealous of the soldiers in any way. They served our country and they most certainly deserve first dibs on quality care that I do not think they are getting. They should come first in issues such as this; but even at that, I do not think that our system for them is where it should be to treat their PTSD.
- You can never get in your car and feel the same way again
Your car becomes your enemy. I was told the car I had saved my life. While it did save my life, my mind was still very injured. The car I was driving had so many airbags and they all faithfully deployed as they were meant to, the engine dropped down and the front sides folded over so that none of that came back on me. It knocked off my shoes but not before it split the leather on my right shoe down the back and not down the seam, but to the left of the seam.
- Every car you meet feels like a German tank and its’ barrel is aimed at you.
You will not understand this until you have been there. But you feel like everyone is trying to come into your lane, trying to hit you! Semi-trucks are the very worst. People passing other cars in the other lane are the enemy.
- You start to fear for the well-being of all your loved ones
You are sure that all of them will be killed in a car wreck when they are going anywhere. You do not want them driving in a vehicle if they do not have a good reason to do so and they give that reason to you and call you or text to you when they leave and when they get there. I so dread when my daughter and entire family goes on vacation. They could all be killed at the same time. How will I cope? Will I completely crack up?
- You worry that your parents and aging aunts and uncles, daughter, her husband, and your grandsons will die in the very near future
They are extremely close to you and they all understand your problems. Just who will understand you when they are gone. They are your support system. Your support system will be no more.
- Every day at the same time
You don’t even have to look at the clock; you know it is about two hours from the time for you to leave work and to drive back home. You become frightened, you start to sweat, you start to have tears in your eyes for the long-dreaded drive back home.
- Medications are only a crutch, they do not take away the problem
I hate to take medicine, I have a terrible fear of addiction because of a grandmother who had a lot of problems with addiction. I did not need to add that to my laundry list. My rheumatologist tells me that if I have that fear I will not become addicted; doesn’t matter; I still have the fear.
- Prayer works for everything in my opinion
But there is something about that fear of the car wreck that just will not leave me. No matter how much you pray, it seems that the fear part of this trauma stays with you.
- Everyone else who you ride with scares you to death
You are sure they will crash and burn. They follow too close, they follow to far, they pass and do not allow enough time, they wait too late to turn at an intersection, they are not careful in a parking lot. They stay on the rumble strips. Why can they not stay off the rumble strips? Just stay in the middle of the lane and you will not be on the rumble strips. If you are on the rumble strips that means you could run into the ditch, hit an electric pole and be killed or run into on- coming traffic and have a head-on collision. Do they not realize this?
- It becomes necessary for you to ride in the back seat
When someone else drives and put on headphones and connect with music so you do not know what is going on in front of you or to the side. You hold your head down and close your eyes.
- You are scared to back out of your parking spot in a parking lot
You are sure someone will hit you or you will run over someone. You must back out one inch at a time. Sometimes you sit there and wait till other cars around you leave so you can see better.
- You never want to leave your house
It becomes your safe place. It becomes your only comfort zone. You do not care what others think. Only that you feel safe.
- You cannot sleep at night without medication T
The flashbacks come to you in your sleep and they are real. You want to sleep deeply, so the flashbacks do not come and you do not wake up sweating and crying. I was already on medication to help me sleep for my lupus to help me go into a deep sleep because of my joint pain; so, I just had to increase the amount I was taking. Before the amount was increased, the dreams were terrible.
- Flashbacks come to you all day long
No matter what you are doing or how you try to keep your mind off them. They first race back
through the back of your mind and before you know it they have raced to the front and there they
- When you drive by the place where the wreck happened
You are scared it will happen again. You slow down ever so slow, wondering how you landed so far out in the field, wondering how you missed all the large concrete barricades. Wondering how many times you rolled? Wondering how you survived and every air bag exploding around you? Wondering how it split your leather shoe all the way down the back and not down the seam? How it knocked your shoes right off your feet? Wondering how even with seat belts on, it almost ripped your left breast off? How your back was broken? How you had 3 broken ribs and a punctured lung and on and on with the injuries? How with the seat belt on, did you have such horrible head injuries? I found out only this week that I was not way out in the field, but down in the ditch, next to the road. I have no idea what trick my injured head was playing on me. My vision after the injury showed me I was a good 100-200 yards out in the field.
- The fear you feel is nothing that you can describe to anyone
They will not understand. They say they do, but they do not have any idea. I can promise them that. I used to think I understood my uncle’s PTSD from his wartime experiences. I did not. Not until now.
- The crying never seems to stop
You try not to cry around others, but there are times it cannot be controlled. The tears run uncontrollably down your face. You do not feel ashamed as they roll down. You have become used to them, to your extreme-extreme compassion for others situations in their lives.
- Before you were a strong person; now you are a crumbled mess
You never cried this much. You could handle whatever life gave you and deal with it one step at a time. You still deal with it the same way, but now you cry every step. You do not hold your head up as high as you did before, you are more humbled.
- If anyone comes into a room without announcing themselves
It startles you so bad, you scream at the top of your lungs. That makes them scream. Then we are both screaming and scaring everyone else. Where did that come from? Be startled. Why?
- Before being diagnosed, your hair will start to fall out in huge clumps
You may try to tell yourself it is because your thyroid meds need to be changed, you may even research and look up to see if you have a vitamin deficiency. I did. That was not the reason.
- Others around you do not know how to react.
They have never known you this way before. They start to withdraw, they learn going into your office is going to be a real cry fest held only by the one and only you. The only ones who will stick it out will be your very best friends, your family and your loved ones.
- You do not know what to say to others
Because you do not understand it well enough yourself to explain it to anyone, except that now you have PTSD and head trauma and tears come when you do not know they are going to start coming.
- You rely on your loved ones more than ever
They are the only ones who you now trust. You rely on them now more than ever before. You were always the rock, you made sure everything was done for the family. You took care of everyone. Watched out for them.
- Your family keeps telling you that you can do this
That you are a strong person. You want to be that strong person again, but can’t seem to draw her out of that cave she went in to hide.
- No matter how strong your faith in God is, this PTSD has a mind of its’ own
It is always there like a cocklebur sticking in your sock. PTSD has become your enemy, hiding in the trenches and folds of your brain and seeps out like a green nasty liquid to cover the meninges of your brain and BAM it is back.
- You wake up in the morning and think, I will be getting in my car and driving in about an hour
From now and shivers run down my spine. If only I could cover my head up and stay home and not have to drive in that 26 miles, not drive by where the wreck happened, maybe that would help.
- You take your medications so you can get in your car to drive to work
You hate the dependency this has caused you. You know this is not you. Again, you hate relying on the medications. You did not have to do this before.
- Life starts passing you by faster every day
It will not slow down, no matter how hard you try to get it to go slower. Your grandsons are growing too fast, stop the speed of their growing. I want more time with them. Quality time at that. It speeds like a fast train. Why is it going faster since the wreck?
- You hate going to the doctor because you know they are going to ask you how the PTSD is doing
And you are going to have to tell your doctor the truth. You will start crying again. You have learned that you no longer want to wear eye make-up because it gets so messed up every day.
- You find out that even happy things make you so very sad
It doesn’t make any sense. You try to figure out why you are so sad over something that would normally make you so happy. Your doctor tells you that happy events can bring on the stressors of PTSD again. It does not make sense. You want to be happy. When my newest grandson was born after the wreck, I was ecstatic; and the next minute I was crying and could not stop. What if I did not live to see him grow up, what if my parents did not live to see him grow up, they were 82 years old. I so wanted them to be a part of their great grandson’s lives.
- Some days it is like you are in a fog, a PTSD fog
You want to withdraw and have no contact with anyone or anybody. You want to crawl into a corner and sit there by yourself and keep all your thoughts inside of you as no one will get what you are thinking that day.
- You talk to others about happy events and wind up crying
You try to explain, it is embarrassing. You try to explain more, you cry harder. Why is this happening? When will it stop? There is no sense in this.
- You call the employee hot line for help
They talk to you for one hour and then tell you that your problems are too big for counseling and you need drugs. Why did I call the employee hotline in the first place? A lot of help they were! Glad it was not a suicide hotline.
- You go see a counselor T
The counselor winds up telling you their problems and you still pay them for the time spent in their office.
- You try meditation and biofeedback like the self-help books suggest
This just gives you more time to reflect on why you are doing this and it runs its’ vicious cycle back to the scene of the wreck.
- You find out that the PTSD has not only brought on stress and anxiety
But it has caused you to be depressed! Really! That now too!
- Some nights you go to bed with such a hopeless feeling
That you cry yourself to sleep and the next day your eyes are so swollen that you can barely see out of them. They are still swollen when you go to work, not matter how much ice you use on them in the morning or how much hemorrhoid cream you use. They remain swollen till at least noon.
- You need to prepare ahead of time, before the PTSD, and buy Kleenex by the case
This is no joke, I am as serious as I can be. I go through at least a box a week, sometimes two boxes, because of the crying and weeping. It comes from NOWHERE!
- You hold your dog for pet therapy, then you think, what if I am in another wreck
What will happen to my pets. Who will care for them the next time. My parents are in their 80’s. They can’t be expected to take care of my pets if this ever happens again.
- You do not feel anger against the person who caused the wreck
At least I didn’t. He just did not see me. I harbor no resentment to him whatsoever. I was raised on a farm, I totally understand.
- You avoid certain social situations
You know that it will bring a flood of tears that would have never came before. You were always the clown in the group. Now you are the quiet one.
- You now sit back and study everyone around you
You wonder what they are thinking. Do they realize that you are crazy; or that at least you feel, crazy?
- You grasp that this wreck that has happened to you will affect
The way you look at everything for the rest of your life. It absolutely does that; about every little thing. When your grandsons argue over trivial things you want to tell them, it just does not matter. That is a little thing. It is no longer important. Let me tell you, I know this now.
- Every time you see an ambulance, you are sure it has one of your loved ones
In it and they have just not called you yet. You look for a damaged car along your route home. You start to call your family one by one to make sure they are all ok.
- You have total fear that it is almost time for your grandsons to start driving
It makes you sick to your stomach when you think about it. What can you do to stop them from driving? They shouldn’t drive. They may be killed. How could their parents handle the grief? How could I handle the grief? How could I help my daughter and her husband who has become like a son to me? I love them both so much; I do not want them to know this sadness.
- When you are driving, you never want to take both hands off the steering wheel
Even though you didn’t the day of the wreck. You grip your steering wheel so hard, that when you drive that 26 miles home, your joints hurt when you take your hands off the wheel. What have you done to yourself? When will this stop?
- When you are around your loved ones, you love them like you have never loved them before
You start remembering every freckle, every color of the iris of their eyes, their laugh, how their hair comes down over their forehead. Every little detail. You are afraid there will be something about them you will forget.
- You want to make sure that the next car you buy will have the crash components
That will save your life like this one did. You look for all the crash ratings on all types of cars before you buy the next car. You count how many airbags there are in the next car. It helps some.
- You try to laugh as much as you can when you’re able to
Without crying, every chance you get! You do this to make up for all the times you cry.
It has been two years now since my wreck, my fears have not lessened. I must say that I do every now and then get a two-three-day break from them. That is pure bliss. I can really laugh out loud again. It feels so good to have a GOOD laugh.
My Dad said to me one day while I was still in the back brace, using the walker and trying to get around and do as much as I could by myself. “I am just so sorry all of this is happening to you. I would take it from you if I could.” I knew exactly what he meant. I would feel the same way about my own daughter. I turned to him and said “Dad, it seems really bad right now, but God has a purpose for this. Every bad thing that happens, something good comes from it.”
My 82-year-old father just called me and told me he was on his way to town, 26 miles from here to visit with his CPA. Terror over took my entire body. I told him to please be very careful. He again told me he always was. I said to him, but it is the other person crossing the line, the other person meeting you head on that frightens me so much. The other person pulling out in front of you that I worry about. It happens so fast and his response time is not what it used to be. I will worry till he gets back home. I have looked at the clock and I know when he left, I will watch the clock continuously until he gets back and I know he is home safe. I know when he should return. If he is not back when he should be I will start calling to find out if he is alright. Yes, in a way, my family suffers too.
My coping mechanisms have not gotten much better, the hysteria, maybe some. It depends on where I am at the time with my PTSD.
I am not quite sure why God has put this in my life, but I do believe that everything does happen for a reason and is part of God’s perfect plan for my life. I rest my faith on this and into His hands and know to open my heart to His will and all will fall into place one day.
Update on my Life: Since the wreck two years ago, I have been praying fervently that God show me direction for my life. I have opened my heart to Him and asked Him to guide me and allow me to be able to spend more time with my aging parents, more time with my aging aunt, and more time with my grandchildren. He knew the desires of my heart had been there for many years to write books, especially ever since my grandchildren had been born and I had been writing journals for my ‘books’ to write about their hilarious antics. I had asked Him if this was to be my path, to be able to follow my passion, to be able to do something that would not be like a job and I could set my own hours and I would not have to drive very much, then He would need to open the doors and reveal it to me as I was not intelligent enough to know how to pursue this avenue.
He did just that. He has blessed me tenfold. My life will never be the same again! I can promise you that; He and He alone opened all the doors, granted me favor in the sight of all whom I have had contact with and blessed me over, and over again. I give Him the glory for it all. I am ghostwriting non-fiction for others, getting ready to publish a short e-book in hopes that it will help others to know they are not alone suffering from PTSD as a civilian.
Through all that has happened to me, my faith has never wavered. If anything, it has grown stronger. I have had so many close calls to death in my life due to an underlying illness that this time was just the icing on the cake. The time in my life that I knew it was time that God and I got down to business and I did something in my life that I had always had a desire to do; write books. My family has been telling me for years that I need to write. That I have so many funny stories to tell, that I needed to write a book. I had started many, but did not think that anyone would be interested. I found out differently. Because God showed me that He had faith in my abilities where I did not. That when other publishers saw my work and wanted me to ghostwrite for them, maybe I did have a little bit of a talent there after all. Not much, but enough to write for them as a ghostwriter.
Do I feel smarter than I did before this journey? I do not. That is not me. I feel humbled, humbled that God has taken this Missouri farm girl and plucked her off the farm and from her job of 42 years in healthcare to be able to pursue the dreams of her life.
I currently have several other books of my own in the making that I want to publish, one that will probably shock some people when they read it. The others I hope will make you laugh all the way through while reading each book.
I am not crying as much since I have entered this part of my life. I am not driving as much. I will still drive at least once a week. I will make myself.
Until then, I guess I will just cry when it does happen and sing His praises when no one can hear it, because I can’t carry a tune in a tin bucket.
Thank you for reading my book and I hope that in some small way it will give you insight into my life that you can go on as I have. That I have had my share of struggles, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I would love to hear the stories of other civilians who suffer from PTSD to use with your permission if you would; write your story and send it me so that I could compile another book about others who have suffered from PTSD. If your stories are told and we can get them out in a book to others, we may be able to help someone else. If you send me your story, please put in the subject line: Civilian PTSD. God speed to each, and every one of you.
Please send your stories to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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