bracing for impact .

“You’re going to crash”

The week before last, I sat down with T and my psychiatrist, S, and heard those words; “You’re going to crash.” No one in the room was surprised. You see, this last week was one of the hardest weeks I’ve faced and we knew it would be. As we approached the first anniversary of a trauma, my team gathered around me in support the week prior.

In the context of progression toward recovery, S often refers to me as being in the drivers seat – essentially in control of my own recovery, the speed at which we drive, whether we go forwards or backwards, left or right. You get the point. As the driver, she said it’s my responsibility to ensure that I am aware of my surroundings, that I am able to accept that the ride won’t always be smooth and that there will be occasions where the crash is unavoidable. In times where the crash is unavoidable, I was told that those times are when we need to acknowledge it and brace for the inevitable impact.

My question was how? How do I brace for impact?

When cars are manufactured, they are fitted with airbags. I needed to ensure that I had a series of airbags around me so that when I inevitably crashed, I’d be safely surrounded and at lesser risk of destruction. The three of us brainstormed and set in place airbags. Airbags came in the form of positive coping mechanisms/strategies, daily appointments, having people lined up who were willing to check in with me, activities like going for coffee or a bushwalk on the day to keep me occupied, visualising a safe space in my mind where I could go to escape when things became overwhelming, a safety plan for mum to follow if need be and many more things.

At last, after crying the whole of Sunday, Monday came and I finally crashed. The airbags protected me from the impact until late in the evening but not all of the airbags were effective. Realistically we knew that some would fail which is why we created a vast variety.

The crash was brutal. It’s now four days post the crash and I don’t remember clearly how the events of the crash took place. I do know that sitting here now, my thighs from my knees up to my hips, are both wrapped in bandages and padding. I know that I am fighting nasty infections and facing a potential need for skin grafts. I know that when T saw my thighs, she cried and I know that the nurse she called did too. I know that I have had and will continue to have daily trips to my GP’s practice where the nurses will address the wounds, whilst T squeezes my hands at my bedside. I know that this time the dissociation got the better of me and though I was numb in the moment, I now feel everything so deeply. I know that my crash was brutal but I also know that that’s okay. I know that my family still love me. I know that my team is still there for me. I know that no one hates me or is disappointed in me and though it was really bad, I know it could have been worse; we all anticipated that it would be worse.

Life is full of bumps and crashes, some are avoidable and others are inevitable. Despite the brutal crash and the harm done to my thighs, my team have expressed their pride in the progress I’ve made. It could have been worse, I could have regressed in all areas but it wasn’t, and I didn’t. God is still good.

– c x

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