This is going to be a tough one, but I need to let out somethings I’ve been kinda holding onto since my car accident back in 2016. I didn’t think that I needed to write about it, until today.
The morning I got into the accident started out like most mornings during that summer. I woke up, dragged my sleepy body into the bathroom, got dressed in a cute outfit (this was the first day I felt confident enough to wear a skirt!), ate a quick breakfast, then jumped in the HHR to go to south campus for my job. Like most days, I turned on my music and sang along to Meghan Trainor’s “Title” album. Everything was perfectly fine, and normal. After the short drive to get to campus, I pulled to the two-way stop sign on 200 E, 600 N.
Now, this intersection was like most intersections south of campus. Filled with trees and cars to the point that you have to pull INTO the intersection in order to see if anyone is coming from the left. I did a full stop at the sign, then moved up a little so I could see if it was clear to go. I didn’t see anyone coming from the left, or the right, or the left again, so I started moving forward. As I pulled further into the intersection, I saw the other car FLYING down the 25 MPH road.
I don’t totally remember what happened in that moment before I was hit; I just remember being scared, then time stopping as my car was rammed into. I remember feeling like my heart stopped. I remember hearing the loud pop, that also seemed to make everything else silent. Then crying. It was MY crying. I remember making sure I had my purse with my phone next to me. I didn’t know if I could move. My head hurt. The airbag didn’t go off. My door wouldn’t open.
Some guy that had been walking past opened my passenger door to see if I was okay. I was concerned that I needed to climb over the seat while in a SKIRT. I grabbed my purse. I couldn’t see. Didn’t know what to do. The other driver called 911. The guy walking past was training to be a paramedic and took my oxygen level. I texted work and told them I got in a car accident. I couldn’t tell my parents I wrecked the car. I was worried about getting home. The ambulance arrived. They took me to the hospital. That was my first ambulance ride. I texted my parents that I was okay, but I was in an accident and on the way to the hospital and would say more later. CHRISTA! I texted my former roommate. She and her hubby also went to BYU. She had a car. And she cared about me. She immediately responded, she and Drew came to the hospital and stayed with me until I could go home. Christa talked to my mom for me. Drew gave me a blessing. A police officer came to the hospital. He yelled at me, I think. Told me it was my fault, even though I had FOLLOWED THE LAW and been careful. I wasn’t the one speeding. But it was my fault. I got a ticket. My FIRST ticket. More tears. More panic. More pain meds in the IV. A prescription. Christa and Drew drove me to the pharmacy, then got me home. Tears. Pain. Worry.
My parents were wonderful: they weren’t upset about the car at all. My grandparents did what they could to help me get to work when I could go back. My parents got me a 2015 Yaris and my dad drove up in August to visit me and get me the car. I lost my job. I had to start classes again.
I wasn’t the same after that. Driving wasn’t hard or scary for me (I just stayed FAR away from that intersection), but everything else was harder. I couldn’t concentrate or focus. Little things that never bothered me started to give me anxiety. I had nightmares about the accident and other things. I felt alone and afraid, even though I lived with family and I was SAFE.
I had already been taking some anxiety medication, but it didn’t work any more. It was like my anxiety that was once a dripping faucet became a busted fire hydrant that wouldn’t stop. Tiny noises scared me. The pressure of starting school again and not having a job AND having a car payment weighed on me. My meds were upped. I was referred to a psychiatrist. He added medication to my already high dose. I was diagnosed with PTSD on top of severe anxiety and depression. (I had some really bad thoughts, but thankfully no actions planned or attempted.) I dyed my hair BLACK. My grades were dropping.
And that’s kind of where I was at when I struggled to finish college. I went uphill to just fall down the other side. I feel like I disappointed my professors, but most of all, myself. I was lucky enough to work at The Daily Universe for my last year of school (Steve, Carrie, Kathy, and the rest of the Universe staff were a complete God-send. Even with everything else crashing around me, I could still be there and do good work while feeling like I was contributing something to the world).
Then came the end of December and the end of classes. I almost failed 2 of the three classes. My capstone project suffered greatly. Thankfully, I was able to get an extension on 3 papers for one class, so that I could finish them by March of this year, effectively setting my graduation date in April 2018. I wasn’t able to attend graduation because I was so unwell.
And here I am, in June of 2018. Crying at a computer while I type this. Because I’m still hard on myself for things I couldn’t control. Things I can’t change.
But things are getting better. I’m not on anxiety/depression medication anymore! I stopped taking them because they weren’t working. They caused more problems than what they may have been helping. Heck, one of those medicines even gave me a BREAST CANCER SCARE (not to mention making me gain about 100 lbs from all the medications and the stress of the accident).
I’m still not able to work full-time. Thankfully, I’m in a position and place that I don’t have to pay rent (thank you, parents!) and can work enough to make what I need to make my car payments (thank you, brother, for letting me work when I have the energy).
I’m not “better” yet, but I am improving. I have the support of my family and my friends! I am loved, I am cared about. I still have awful anxiety, but I’m working through it. I finally feel like I’m not trapped inside of my mind.
And one day, hopefully soon, I’ll be able to be myself again. Baby steps may be small, but they are the sign of what is to come. Today I’m celebrating the little victories, like eating better and smiling a little more. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? I’m already smiling instead of sobbing. Writing is cathartic for me. (I should do it more often.)
If you are struggling, just know that you aren’t alone. I understand what you may be feeling. I’ve been to the bottom of Hell and back. It’s hard, but that’s why you have to lean on the people who love you. It’s difficult to remember sometimes, but you are loved–even when you don’t love yourself.
*** Author’s Note ***
I think I like using the whole “The Princess and…” title for these types of posts, because it gives me a little separation barrier between reality and writing about my personal experiences/stories. It started out with The Princess and The Troll, so I could write about what happened with Louise. I feel like storytelling is a gift I’ve been blessed with, so I use it in my writing to help soften the realness associated with these heavier topics. And these are my stories; things I’ll maybe share with my children one day.