I had a bizarre experience the other day. I was watching a television show, which admittedly was pretty intense. In the show, a girl was hit by a car. Badly. The way they filmed it made you feel like you were the girl–the camera was right behind her shoulder and moved with her, while she was looking around. Which meant that when she was hit, it was quite shocking. The reaction I had was the strange part though. I screamed and immediately started hyperventilating. I pressed my hands over my heart and couldn’t let go for some time. For the rest of the night, I was crying off and on and couldn’t seem to stop. There was really no reason for this reaction, but in that moment a small part of my brain thought back to that day just over five years ago when I fell and hit my head. It wasn’t that the show reminded me of it in any way, but it brought back that feeling of, “oh no, this is really bad.” To call it a flashback is the only way I can describe it, but more of an emotional one than a literal one.
My first thought was, “Why now? Five years later?” I’ve had a few thoughts about my reaction since then. First, I was PMS-ing and I have been undergoing some mild hormone therapy to manage headaches. So maybe my hormones made my reaction a little more intense than normal. Second, the show itself had a very emotional scene right before the accident, so not only are emotions heightened, but it made the accident that much more shocking because of the juxtaposition. Third, I do often have vivid dreams and they will sometimes elicit a similar response, but I’ve never experienced that while awake. Fourth, I did have a headache that day, so maybe that is an influencing factor, though probably a bit of a stretch.
I will also admit that it’s been a challenging year and a half, and I know I’m not the only one. Balancing running my own business with parenting, helping kids learn remotely, completing my Masters, volunteering, and the day-to-day of living in a pandemic has induced a great deal of stress. There were times when I wasn’t sure I would get enough work done to pay the bills, simply because there’s not enough time in the day. Plus, since most of my family is COVID-19 “vulnerable” (immunocompromised, over 70, respiratory issues, etc.), the excellent support network that I’ve had since my girls were born isn’t available to me at the most critical times. Perhaps all of these factors also add up to make me more vulnerable to emotional episodes.
Then again, maybe I never properly dealt with the impact of the fall when it happened. At the time, I had two-year-old twin girls and needed to push through in order to get back to work and life. That’s how we deal with much of life though, isn’t it? Focus on recovering physically and then carry on or push through. I’m still struggling with post-concussion syndrome and it’s gotten worse over the last year and a half, likely because of stress. So, if I haven’t recovered fully physically, why would I expect to be recovered emotionally?
I don’t know if this is an isolated incident or if it will happen again. Even though I don’t have any answers, I wanted to share because it was a significant event. As someone who spends most of her time in her head thinking, it has definitely prompted me to pay more attention to my emotional state. Bottom line is this: it happened and I guess time will tell for the rest…
Please feel free to share if you’ve had a similar experience.