If you’ve been following my blog long enough, you know I’m a huge advocate for mental health and how it has impacted my life since Paul’s accident in 2016. Just about everyone I know has suffered with some form of mental health issue, whether they’re aware of it or not. I grew up in a very traditional, ethnic family with parents who are from Eastern Europe so I know all too well how taboo the topic of mental health once was in our house. Psychologist? What? I no need to talk to no psychologist! I can still hear my mother’s words etched in my brain at the mere mention of talking to someone about her hardships. Don’t even dare mention anti- depressants. You would be chased with a fluffy slipper or a wooden spoon. But living with the effects of trauma can have life- long challenges. There is help out there…. if you want it.
A couple of weeks ago, a Police car parked across the road, in front of our house to block any traffic coming either direction. Of course, Paul, carers and kids went running outside. Its a little hard to ignore a Police car with flashing lights beaming through the window of Paul’s bedroom. Our neighbour motioned me over to have a look what was going on. It seemed an incident had occurred several metres down the road but with the glare of the sun and the crowding of emergency services, it was difficult to see what was going on. Of course, I am a sticky- beak (noun. one who must stick their nose into things that do not concern them) so I took my neighbours offer to walk up the hill to get a better look. What I saw was a motionless body laying in the middle of the road surrounded by paramedics. How that person ended up there was still a mystery until I saw, just a few short meters away from the body, a motorbike. I stared at it for less than 10 seconds. I felt my heart in my mouth, the blood drain from my head, an instant rush of anxiety course through my veins, sweat dripping down my neck and then the tears welling up. I turned and ran home, unable to stop or even slow down the emotions. For the first time since July 2016, I had flashbacks of Paul’s lifeless body laying in the middle of the road, surrounded by Paramedics with his motorbike on a few meters away. I had my first episode of Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. The emotional flood passed once I reached the safety of home but the flashbacks stayed for hours.
The second night after Paul’s accident, I arrived home from hospital and put the kids to bed. I scrolled through Facebook to allow my mind to escape the day’s realities except that I happened to come across a post of a Ch7 news clip that a family member had shared of Paul’s accident. The first time I watched it, I remember thinking “Can’t wait to show Paul that he made it on the news!” But then I kept watching the clip, over and over and over again. I must have watched it at least 30 times that night, zooming in at different angles, angry that the news reader reported a man in his 50’s collided with a truck. Surely they could see he was a younger man than that? It did not matter how many times I watched the footage, there was no mistaking Paul’s legs, his motorbike, his work boots, the stretch of road he road on several times a day. It was him. He was fighting for his life in a hospital bed.
I found talking about my PTSD moment with the carers, which was more like a debriefing session for all of us, helped to settle the inner turmoil that had built in my mind after what I had just witnessed. I saw the aftermath of a motorbike collision almost 6 years after my husband’s traumatic event. This was only a mild episode compared to the long- lasting effects of PTSD thousands of other people suffer from around the world. I have but a small smidgen of understanding now. Something I never hope to experience to that degree ever again.
Although I still have no details as to the outcome of the accident, I found out it was a young girl who’s life lay motionless in the middle of the road. Her injuries severe and I do not know if she even survived. I have prayed for her and I have asked God if it’s not too late, to spare her life and allow her to make a full recovery. If not, may her angels look after her on the other side and her family and friends bask in her love to ease the pain of grief.
Make peace with it, you’re stuck with me for life, Pauly.
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