5 Symptoms of PTSD After Brain Injury

(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.

(5) Self-Isolation.

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.
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