When Will Calm Return?
October 6, 2019
My mother leaned in to kiss my forehead — and I panicked without warning, explanation or control. Her face approached from just beyond my narrow field of vision, as I lay in bed in my intentionally dimly lit room. Immediately, my weak limbs tensed, clammy hands trembled and anxious mind went right back to the instant in which the asphalt hit my face from that same left side. I am traumatized, the degree to which has only just begun to reveal itself to me.
Ever since the accident, I feel intensely fragile, brittle, weak. I find myself uncharacteristically worried about all the ways I am going to get hurt, freak occurrences that could happen to loved ones, a deluge of threatening possibilities all ending in injury, destruction, trauma, even death. I barely want to leave the safety of my own bed, let alone expose myself to unknown dangers beyond the confines of this house.
While driving back from an appointment yesterday, we ever so slightly skimmed the edge of a pot hole — but it took me right back to the scooter, to the crash, to being flung, to landing with my full weight on my face across open road. My entire body suddenly seized up: arms flew up to protect my face, shoulders compressed into my neck, chest caved atop my ribcage, legs pressed together with unexpected force. I felt no control over my physical reaction or subsequent mental response, overwhelmed by an unstoppable torrent of emotion, inexplicable flood of tears, painful vocal cries, paralyzing fit of anxiety and startlingly genuine terror. This spurred compounding physical pain in my eye, head, lip and mouth, atop teeth that were already tingling, an upper lip hanging heavy and jaw which ached acutely from the stress of having attempted to speak over the course of a nearly two hour appointment.
The sound of car breaks in the distance makes me wince. I become nauseous on short drives to doctors, needing to throw up on the side of the road. My body freezes merely waiting to cross the street in office parking lots or garages. Up until four weeks ago, none of that would have ever phased let alone incapacitated the strong, healthy 28-year-old who while not invincible, was rightfully confident in her physical abilities. I once took on each day and the world with vigor, determination, conviction, even excitement.
Will this crippling vulnerability fade? Will the debilitating fear wane? Will those terrorizing thoughts become less severe? Will a sense of comfort, calm, confidence or remote safety return?