I 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.
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.”