Where do we go from where?

by Althea
(Wolfville, NS Canada)

About 2 months ago my bf & I were headed home from a little get away,I was extremely tired so I was sleeping.

The next thing I know, I'm getting banged around, I hear loud bangs & crashes then it stops. The horn is stuck on... what just happened? We crashed.

I make sure my boyfriend is okay, (he's groaning) but says "we've gotta get out", so somehow I know exactly what to do, with no hesitation & no thinking. I unbuckle myself, then him, then I crawl out , rip the soft top off the jeep & help him out. I make sure he is okay & I run for help, then the ambulance is on the way.

He fell asleep at the wheel, we went straight through a turn, off the road, hit someones drive way, pitch polled & landed on the roof. The turn out.. my boyfriend broke his collarbone, 2 ribs, bruised both lungs & nerve damage in his left leg. And me, I got away with sprained/torn ligaments in my back & neck. We are currently going through physiotherapy & massage.

Since the accident I've been very emotional (and I don't consider myself an emotional person) & sore of course.

But I'm mainly concerned about him.
He lost his job a few months before, now his vehicle, & he's a Volunteer firefighter so he is limited as to what he can actually do. Someone mention possible whiplash to me, but I know nothing about it. He mentioned he was depressed due to the no job, & he doesn't sleep at night but through the day...

I'm not really sure what to do..

Hi there, Michelle here...

Thanks for telling me your story, sounds like a really really scary crash, with a lot of injury. I will do my best to give you some advice.

First, your boyfriend. Being depressed and having difficulty sleeping after a car accident is really normal, common, and aggravating. Many people go through a depressed cycle after a big injury for all sorts of reasons.

Losing a job, and a vehicle compound a feelings of despair.

2. It may be time for him to talk to a professional counselor who can talk to him about these massive life changes he has just gone through.

Losing a job can be absolutely devastating, add on top of that he may be feeling responsible for a car accident which left his girlfriend injured, and wrecked his car, limited his job possibilities, and gave him injuries which are disabling.

This is not a small thing. His feelings of being responsible and likely feeling he has no way out of his current predicament would be overwhelming to anyone.

Get him some counseling immediately if you can. It is not a weakness to feel depressed after a car accident. He is grieving many losses, although it is rare for people to realize this type of life changing event causes grief.

3. Broken bones take a minimum of 6 weeks to knit back together. The pain from broken ribs and a broken collar bone can take months to change.

Healing after breaking bones is exhausting, as the body uses a tremendous amount of energy to heal. When you add in bruised lungs on top of having broken ribs this tells me that your boyfriend has struggled to breath for quite a while.

Every deep breath hurts and every deep breath causes him to wince, or tense against what he knows is going to be a sharp intense pain.
Think how many times a day we take a deep breath. A lot!

I have witnessed the healing from one broken rib and watching my person try to breath was very agonizing as the observer!

So, the most basic part of our every day life, which most of us take for granted, is now a painful, maybe even scary experience for your boyfriend. This all by itself is exhausting, when we are exhausted we are more prone to being depressed.

4. Now, his sleeping pattern is messed up. This happens very easily and sometimes very quickly after an accident...

because once again its really hard to get comfortable...

and so you try to get to sleep, you can’t and then you lay awake part of the night in pain....

...but you are tired and the sun comes up and you get out of bed not rested, and all of a sudden you find yourself asleep in the middle of the day.

Advance this pattern a month and you are sleeping all day and not sleeping at night.

The cure? Kind of like getting over jet lag, have him stay awake as much through the day as he can, leave the house if he must to stay awake. If he just can’t then he can take a short nap, with an alarm so he is revived. He needs to get up from his nap no more than 20 minutes.

When he gets to bed at 10pm say, his body will be truly exhausted and he will sleep. It may take him a few days of readjusting his sleep pattern to be able to sleep through the night, so don’t let him give up after one or two days of trying.

5. If you both have not talked to each other about how he feels and about the details of the accident, I would encourage you to gently begin this conversation.

If you have already talked about it a lot, you probably have a lot of insight into why he is feeling depressed.

For all our other readers, it can be very surprising how relieving it can be to start talking about an accident. Accidents are traumas. They are not only painful, but frightening at a very core level.

So, talk to each other. This may be scary to bring up the details of the accident, so go slowly with each other, hold hands and be gentle with yourselves as you talk about the story.

6. Now, for you feeling emotional. Yep. A very normal experience after an accident. Being emotional happens for many different reasons, and can last awhile.

Back to some of the same information for your boyfriend, injuries take a tremendous amount of energy to heal from.

This energy creates exhaustion, exhaustion makes little life things more complicated. In addition, when we are worn out, a lot of us reach for more caffeine, or more alcohol or both. These two things are temporary boosts and often affect how emotionally tired we end up being.

When you have had a huge trauma, you need a lot of rest, then, more rest. My guess is you are running a bit on empty.

Being concerned about your boyfriends state of health is also very stressful, and all by itself would have been exhausting and left you prone to being emotional, even if you were not injured yourself.

These type of big traumas shake most of us to the core, that feeling of being invulnerable to the dangers of life and death gets shattered, all of a sudden we have gotten a whole lot closer to the reality that a simple and innocent excursion could be a dangerous and deadly experience.

7. And, on top of the fact that you had a huge trauma, you probably look normal, right?

No stitches, no big bandages, so the people in your life may be having a harder time understanding you are as injured and shook up as you are.

This means its harder to get the support we all need after an accident, and can lead to feeling isolated, or leave us feeling like a complainer, both these things can contribute to feeling off.

8. I am glad to hear you are getting some physio and massage. You may find you also need to get some counseling yourself. If you find yourself minimizing try to remember how big this event was in your life, and that 2 months post accident is barely any time at all...

I hope this has helped a little.

Sincerely, M.

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Have A Question About Your Car Accident Injuries?.