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How One Day Changed My Whole Life. Finding Courage and Strength when your whole word is shattered. www.paintedteacup.com

How One Day Changed My Whole Life

How One Day Changed My Whole Life. Finding Courage and Strength when your whole word is shattered. www.paintedteacup.comI am excited to share another FRIDAY GUEST POST with you! Today’s post is written by Ariel from Quintessential Miss who talks about her incredible story and how one day (well really one second), shattered her whole life and how she has become stronger for it! Ariel’s story is one of finding courage and strength in times of darkness. She is a true inspiration! 

Enough from me, let’s turn it over to Ariel!

How One Day Changed My Whole Life

There are many ways that life evolves. People come and go, we change due to life experiences, or something outside of our sphere rocks our foundations. In January of 2012 I was struck by a truck as he ran the red light. The truck was large, think a medium sized uhaul. He didn’t try to stop, he didn’t try to swerve. My light was green and had been for some time. That day I lost faith in other drivers and even in my own ability. There is always that expectation that your fellow drivers are following basic safety rules. Haven’t we all learned from a very young age that “red means stop”? There is also the expectation that I set for myself that I could have avoided the collision, but I wasn’t speeding and honestly had no time to react.

I was in the very beginning of my junior year in college, set to graduate early, working two jobs, and friendly. My greatest worries revolved around school work and what movies were out the next weekend in case my job was going to be crazy. That moment of impact changed everything. I was shattered, not just physically but mentally as well. My safe world was gone. I am the second oldest of 6 kids and uber responsible and bossy. I am the go to person for everything, I find solutions, I fix things, and I keep everyone on track. All of a sudden, that changed. My right wrist was completely broken, my truck totaled, school was put on hold for the foreseeable future, I lost both my jobs since I had no idea what my recovery time was, and I was suddenly completely terrified of the world around me.

I was terrified of hospitals, doctors, needles (although not a new fear, it was increased a hundred fold due to all the tests), cars, streets, squealing tires, brakes, TV shows/movies with cars, being alone, and the list goes on. I went from being this bright shining thing to less than a shadow of my former self. I was shuffled from doctor to doctor. Between three surgeries, countless PT and chiro visits, so much medication, and counseling appointments, I didn’t even know who I was. So I slept. I had no idea how to deal with the anxiety and depression and PTSD that came with the crash. I felt like I had lost everything and my body responded. Nothing tasted good, I didn’t move, and I was so sad all the time. My family hardly left me alone, and without their love and support, I would have started taking some drastic measures. Every moment of my life was on a schedule, and not one that I could control. I wore whatever I could pull on with one hand, and my brother’s shirts since my clothes wouldn’t fit over my giant cast. Things that I used to love didn’t help at all. Books didn’t interest me, movies made me anxious, and I stopped talking to my friends. Who would want to talk to someone so lost and broken? My mom and sister would take me shopping, another of my very favorite things, and I would have a total meltdown. Nothing fit over my cast, I felt completely hideous.

My mental health is closely tied to my physical health

When I get flashbacks, or when I have a panic attack I am right back at the very beginning of my journey. My back and legs, my head, my right wrist, everything hurts. I can’t sit or stand for long periods of time. When I get anxious I turn to candy, soda, and bagels in order to feel better. I had to stop dancing because my neck couldn’t handle it, so I gained weight. I’ve always been slender, but when you stop moving and eat awful, you gain weight. That of course didn’t help how I was feeling at all. I was mad, sad, confused. Why me? Why now? In addition to all of this, the driver of the other vehicle was saying that I ran the red light, even though there were multiple witnesses and the police report that showed him at fault. Attorneys got involved and I had to listen to his attorney call me “attention seeking” and insist that I was “faking”. To hear that from them was hard enough, but to run into old friends and be constantly asked why I wasn’t better, “it was just a car accident” was infinity worse.  I didn’t know either, and I had no idea why my recovery was taking so long.

Where I am today

It took me two years to feel like I could drive again, and another year and a half to feel a tiny bit comfortable behind the wheel. I still attend therapy off and on, but have yet to meet my one special therapist or even therapy that works. I still occasionally chop off my hair when I feel like I need to be in control of something. I still struggle every single day to not succumb to the sadness and out of control spiral that PTSD is. I dislike new things and experiences. I have to have a plan every day of what will happen, and if things don’t go as planned I really can’t handle it. I freak out. But I am trying to curb that. I still don’t have the plethora of friends that I used to, but I am slowly trying to find my sense of self again. I just celebrated my one year anniversary of finishing college, and I am inordinately proud of myself. I couldn’t have done it alone though. My family is incredible, and the man I started dating a few years after my accident has been my saving grace. We recently bought a house, and he is completely wonderful to me. He holds me when I cry, and helps me break out of my shell.  

As I reach the 4th anniversary of my crash, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have changed getting hit. Yes, it was completely horrific and I will deal with the ramifications for the rest of my life, but I also know how strong I am. I have a greater sense of compassion, and things happened as they were meant to. I fight every day and I don’t ever give up. One of my favorite quotes is:

“Just because you took longer than others, doesn’t mean you failed. Remember that.”

I was hard on myself for not recovering quicker, not graduating on time, and just in general being slow to deal with things. I need to constantly remind myself that I am doing the best I can, and that is all that anyone, especially myself, can ask.

 

Guest Bio:

Ariel believes that you don’t have to be perfect to be amazing, you just have to take a chance. She is a firm believer in shopping, reading, and spoiling yourself. “I don’t want women to see these instagram perfect lives and assume if they can’t make their lives like that, they’re not worthy. Your journey is purely your own, and I am here to share mine.”

Follow Ariel’s journey on her blog Quintessential Miss and follow her on Instagram!

17 thoughts on “How One Day Changed My Whole Life

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! I’m sorry you had to go through such a difficult journey. Please don’t be hard on yourself for not recovering more quickly. Everyone needs to deal with things at their own pace. Best of luck on your continued recovery!

  2. What a horrible thing to go through. So glad you are better. No one can predict how long it takes to recover. Sending good wishes to you as you continue to recover.

  3. I’m so sad that this happened to you! Accidents can effect you for the rest of your life for sure. My friends mom has been in several, and even though she was fine physically. Mentally she never trusts other drivers and is SO cautious

  4. It’s sad that it happened to you but there are reasons why it did. I’m just glad that you’ve moved on that part of your life. It’s still okay to sometimes look back on what happen and just smile because it made you a stronger person you are today. Thanks for sharing your story!

  5. What a scary experience! Thanks for sharing your journey. It’s important for people to know that these things take time and it’s about so much more than physical healing.

  6. I like the quote.
    We do all process life in our own time. Especially traumatic experiences.
    I know I’ll never forget where I had my accidents, but I also wonder how I can just move away from it and not worry about it or it doesn’t affect me much.

    Thanks for sharing your story.
    I hope I’m not stuffing stuff inside you know.

  7. What a touching story from Ariel! I never been in a horrible car accident before but I know it must of been traumatic…I am so happy she is able to share this story with grace of her testimony and a somewhat happy new beginnings!

  8. I want to thank you wholeheartedly for sharing us your story. You are so brave and so strong. I remember when I was traumatized after a car my sister was driving was hit by a truck and we ended up in a ditch, but thank heavens we were okay. I still get jitters driving beside big trucks.

  9. Thanks for sharing, it couldn’t have been easy. I know a few people that have deal with such things and it makes me so sad. Sounds like a really traumatic thing to deal with.

  10. It’s saddening that following basic rules can be a problem for those who have supposedly passed through driving school. Thank you for sharing your story, wish you quick recovery.

  11. I am so sorry this happened to you. I had something very similar happen in my sophomore year of college. Mine was a mystery illness they couldn’t figure out, and I ended up having to drop out of college for the rest of the semester. I started having panic attacks and I would go into shock when I had to be around needles from all the testing, which was never the case before. It was not a fun time.

  12. That sounds just terrifying! I was in a very bad car accident and knocked all of my teeth out. It was definitely a long recovery period. I can only imagine being hit by a truck! OMG glad you are alive!

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