Sam experienced a serious car accident when he was in his 20s. He found that he couldn’t stop thinking about the event. When he did, he experienced flashbacks, nightmares, couldn’t sleep or concentrate on his work.
- Sam was experiencing post-traumatic stress symptoms
- He had started to react from the fight, flight, freeze part of his brain.
- He was on high alert for danger which is called hyper-arousal or hyper-vigilance.
- He found himself constantly imagining cars about to smash into him.
- He was triggered by loud noises and the smell of petrol.
- Sometimes he could not bring himself to drive.
- This is not an unusual response to a traumatic incident.
What can Sam do?
- Talking through his experience and responses is important.
- By doing so he was able to release little by little the accumulated stress, with my support.
- Gradually Sam learnt strategies to manage the symptoms.
- He learnt to recognise his body’s responses when he was about to become anxious.
- Sam was able to recognise the difference between the accident (past event) and his current situation (driving like he always did).
- He learnt to manage his thoughts and flashbacks regarding the accident
- He learnt something called grounding when he found that he was overwhelmed with emotion about the event.
After a period of counselling, Sam learned to manage his post-traumatic stress symptoms, enabling him to function normally again. There are times he experiences triggers that send his thoughts back to the accident, but on the whole, they don’t overwhelm him.
If you have experienced something similar you can call me on 027 488 9236 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I am based in Birkenhead, North Shore, Auckland.