Recovering from trauma is a process, with it ups and downs… three steps forward, two steps back… and can be unpredictable.
Yesterday was a pretty good day until, on my way home from a trip to the store, a bus pulled up right behind us at a red light. I thought I had overcome all of my anxiety surrounding buses. Evidently, I have more work to do.
After having been hit by a school bus while walking to my car in November, I worked with a cognitive behaviorist who recommended exposure therapy. Right after my accident, the hair on my neck stood on end every time heard a school bus drive by my house. This was particularly difficult as three buses pick up children in the morning and the same three drop off children in the afternoon.
My therapist suggested I overcome my fear of the bus by gradually getting closer to it until I could tolerate the fleeting feeling of anxiety that always came with hearing it. After standing at the front door with my walker when the bus came by in the mornings, I eventually had my husband take me outside in my wheelchair when the bus dropped off my son in the afternoon. This strategy enabled me to pass buses on the road with no physiological symptoms… until yesterday.
When I realized there was a bus behind our car, I felt a bit queasy. Then I heard its brakes and almost immediately developed an excruciating headache. By the time we got home, I felt physically sick and cried intermittently for the next 30 minutes. I felt completely drained and remained on the couch for the next several hours.
Having participated in a trauma survivors’ class and individual therapy, I knew that I needed to talk about what I was experiencing. I talked to my husband and gave myself permission to feel what I was feeling. I forgave myself for having what I saw as a setback. Although I was emotionally exhausted, I was feeling better before I went to bed.
I slept late this morning, and woke up feeling calm. In fact, I had the thought that I felt unusually peaceful. Like a still lake, I felt emotionally placid. The day was peaceful and quiet, with no surprises. Once again, I am grateful for a good day and the fact that there are increasingly more good ones than challenging ones.