Surviving A Car Crash & Soothing Panic Attacks
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Panic attacks are intense and may suddenly overwhelm you with fear and anxiety. You may feel as though something terrible is about to happen for no apparently rational reason, where you could experience heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, chest pains, and other symptoms. Panic attacks may run in families and could be triggered by stress or other factors.
One of my friends is the sole survivor of an incredible car accident, which led to the experience of panic attacks and headaches, which were sometimes mild and sometimes severe. She was a secretary for a senior government official for many years, but one day he passed away, so he was buried at his rural home about 300 miles away. My friend and her colleagues in the office planned to travel to the funeral and return to the city on the same day. The team in the car consisted of two secretaries, the driver, the tea girl and the messenger all of who worked for the officer in the same office. A vehicle was allocated to take them to and from the official’s home, and everything went as arranged, but on their way back they had the accident.
My friend says that it was getting dark when they reached a place that she now calls the place of blackness. The driver saw a dog running across the road and he tried to swerve in order to avoid hitting him, but this caused the vehicle to roll, which killed all of the occupants except for my friend. When the vehicle finally stopped rolling she was the only one in the car. She was hysterical, and she frantically called out to the other woman who was her close colleague, but she gave no reply. She and the others had been thrown from the car due to the force of the impact and a lack of seat-belts, whereafter the vehicle rolled and crushed them. Thankfully, there were other people driving behind them and they stopped to assist and bring her to the hospital. Her sister was called to pick her up on that night, so she called me the following day and asked me to go to her sister’s home to meet. The accident survivor was in a state of intense fear and panic, so I left work and stayed with her, listened to her as she talked everything out, and gave her a shoulder to lean on. I took her to the home of one of her closest friends who had died in the accident in order to offer consolation to her colleague’s husband and daughter.
Coping with grief is hard, and those who suffer the most during these times need our help. Listening to someone who has experienced trauma helps to alleviate the emotional and psychological pain that the person is experiencing. Finding oneself in a situation where one is in severe danger and unable to escape is traumatizing, and this may lead to panic attacks that strike suddenly and without warning. The car stopped, she found herself alone in the damaged car, surrounded by complete darkness, and these images returned to her again and again. After the accident I had to encourage my friend and offer her support. Leaving her alone would cause her to feel as though she was re-experiencing the trauma, which caused flashbacks, so I needed to keep her company in order to allow her to settle.
Professional treatment and therapy was important to relieve the panic attacks because if not treated they could have turned into a long-term panic disorder. Having somebody listen to you, whether it’s a close friend, or a family member, can help to establish a sense of safety – Friends establishing safety goes a long way. Meanwhile, breathing and relaxation exercises can help to reduce the body’s stress responses.
Fear of experiencing something like this again could be terrifying, but time heals all wounds. After these episodes, my friend married, and she is now a happy mother of three. She talks about the accident freely and is grateful that she survived without injury. Instead of dwelling on the losses, she is grateful that she was able to cope with the pain, and she encourages others who experience challenges of their own.
Today, she is one of my closest friends and anytime I have a problem she encourages me until I find a solution. There is one thing that I know with certainty, a friend in need is a friend indeed. I also experience e panic attacks out of the blue from time-to-time, but breathing practices generally relieve my anxiety.