(1) Anxiety at the scene of the initial accident.
I am almost three years out from my accident and I still have a hard time walking down that same driveway, even on a dry, sunny summer day. Once snow and ice cover it, I actually cry when I have to walk down it and I become paralyzed with fear.
(2) Fear of hurting oneself again.
I go through periods of time where I have an irrational fear of accidentally hurting myself again (not just from a fall in the driveway). These thoughts usually creep in as our temperatures start to drop and the threat of snow and ice comes into the forecast. I worry about hitting my head on the cupboard, or of being in a car accident, or any other scenario my brain works up.
(3) Flashbacks or nightmares.
In the beginning, I regularly had flashbacks of my fall. They have subsided, but still surface when we start to get ice and snow. I notice I also have more nightmares during this time of year, and they mostly involve getting hurt. I occasionally startle myself awake when I hear my skull impacting with the pavement.
(4) Difficulty talking about the traumatic event.
Early on I had a very hard time opening up about my accident, but have since found it quite therapeutic to write and speak about it—and I know that I am helping others through my work. Many survivors find that those who have not experienced a brain injury or any form of anxiety just simply can’t understand what we are dealing with, and will often dismiss our feelings, which certainly causes even more anxiety.
Because many survivors feel misunderstood, we choose not to attend social gatherings. I also find I don’t want to leave the comfort of my home when there is ice and snow covering the sidewalks and roads. It is as if we go into self-protection mode…and hibernate.