Thursday, January 21, 2016

How To Deal With PTSD | 3 Ways I deal with my disorder

I was in a car accident when I was 17. It was pretty horrific, and since the accident I've dealt with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. When the accident first happened, I had a hard time getting into cars. After a few weeks I was only having trouble driving with people that I hadn't driven with before. Now, I still have anxiety attacks if the person is driving too fast or taking corners too sharply. I have also had panic attacks from small fender bender accidents.

The accident was almost seven years ago, but since then I've only driven past the site a handful of times. As a passenger, it's a little easier. I close my eyes well before we get to the accident site and pretend I'm anywhere else. It's been difficult learning to live with this issue. I want to share how I've learned to cope, so maybe I can help make it easier for others.
The accident was pretty bad. I remember we were driving toward the local movie theater to see Watchmen. I didn't even want to watch the movie, I was going along with my friend that had been having a rough time. We had just left the hospital dropping her parents off. We had no way of knowing we'd be going right back in our own ambulances just a few minutes later.
With that horrific accident at the back of my mind every time I get into a car, I've come up with a few ways to deal with the PTSD I developed.
The car after the firemen put out the flames
So, with that horrific accident at the back of my mind every time I get into a car, I've come up with a few ways to deal with the PTSD I developed.

1. Breathe. This seems obvious but I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten to just breathe when having an attack. Breath slowly, in through your nose, out through your mouth. It slows your heart and makes you focus on you and not your surroundings.

2. If you can, close your eyes. This is a weird one. I don't know what made me think to try this, maybe it was just a childish impulse. But when my sister first drove past the accident site (against my wishes) I closed my eyes. And it helped. I think it helped because I didn't know when we would pass the corner we crashed on, so it was like we weren't there at all. Apparently out of sight out of mind is a real thing.

3. Read, listen to music, or have anything else to occupy your mind. Oddly enough, this works too. Sometimes, you can't close your eyes, but listening to music really helped me when I was driving on the highway the first time. But, don't listen to just anything. Listen to something you can sing along to. When I first started this, I just put anything on. But not being able to sing along meant I wasn't as at ease. This isn't about distracting yourself, it's about putting yourself at ease. If you aren't driving, you can try to read a book, play on your phone. Honestly, distracting yourself (when you aren't driving) is really helpful.

Do you have any tips for dealing with PTSD or anxiety in general? Let me know in the comments below!

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