By Guest Blogger Rosa Talavera
My teenage son was involved in a serious car accident Thanksgiving Day, 2015. His jeep fishtailed off the road, and he was ejected from the car suffering fractures on his neck, spine, and pelvic bones. After a week in the ICU, he required 24-hour care for approximately six weeks, followed by many weeks of physical therapy. For months I watched him struggle, not only to walk again, but also deal with the emotional stress of a painful recovery and loss of freedom.
To our joy and surprise, six months after of the accident he was walking again without a walker or wheelchair. At that point I noticed he was displaying signed of sever stress, and that he hand been falling into depression. Feeling estranged and isolated from his friends had taken a toll on on him in his frail state of mind. When he and I discussed the possibility of him driving again, I noticed his body become tense, and the fear I saw in his eyes broke my heart. It appeared to me that the thought getting behind the wheel of a car again was causing him to feel a great deal of anxiety.
Each time the subject of driving came up, I could see the physical manifestations I knew all too well. I’ve been struggling with generalized anxiety on and off since early childhood. I remember my first episode to this day– my heart racing uncontrollably, my palms sweating as if I had been sitting in a hot sauna, the feeling that if I started running fast, I would feel better. But I didn’t. Almost each time I experienced stress, I suffered an episode. And they grew worse. I started experiencing shortness of breath, body tremors, and the feeling as if my entire body was on fire. I became drench in a cold sweat in an instant.
Years later that after researching my symptoms online, I realized what I was experiencing were anxiety episodes. I’ve attended therapy sessions over the years which helped, but the real healing began when I started yoga and meditation and practicing positive self-talk. On an onset to an episode, I started deep breathing exercises along with self-guided meditation. Each time I felt I was going through a stressful situation, I would practice positive self-talk; I worked on changing the negative thought to a positive. These practices helped reduce the number of episodes I experience, in fact, I hardly experience any episodes now.
Once I realized what my child was going through, I couldn’t bear the thought that he would was suffering from the emotional turmoil I had experienced– anxiety. I wanted to let him know that he wasn’t alone, and we could fight it together.
First, I made sure he understood that he should only drive again when he felt he was ready, but that he needed to start taking steps to do so as soon as possible. I started his healing process with empathy letting him know that it was okay for him to feel anxious about driving after having suffered serious injuries.
We spoke extensively about changing his thoughts about driving. We worked on changing thoughts such as, “I’m going to skid in the snow and crash again,” to “I will trust that I will be more aware of bad driving conditions in order to have a faster response time.” “I know God is protecting me and I will be safe.”
When he knew he was experiencing an anxiety episode, I guided him in deep breathing until he was able to do in on his own. I got him into a daily routine of self-guided meditation, and after a while, he started going on what he calls “meditation walks.”
I believe in my heart that knowing that I understood what he was going through helped create a level of trust that gave him the hope and determination to recover from fear and anxiety.
On a snowy day a few weeks later, he decided to drive down the block. I, of course, insisted on tagging along the first time. As soon as his heart rate started accelerating, I reminded him to breathe and to kept going. He did so well that from that day forward he drove without thinking about the accident.
I often remind him of how proud I am at how he took a negative experience and turned it into a challenge, which he worked hard to conquer. Nathan, my son, has grown a lot emotionally from this negative experience. He often says he’s learned that life can change in an instant, and that family is important, during difficult times. He’s learned that you can either fight your fears or succumb to them. Nathan chose to fight!
For details on Nathan’s accident and six month recovery update, please visit https://www.rosatalavera.com. Blog post titled, “A thankless Thanksgiving Day,” and “My son’s car accident: six months later.”
Bio: Rosa Talavera
has been writing for over nine years shorty after graduation with a degree in journalism. Her articles have appeared in a number of print and online magazines including 5280 online, the Denver Post online, La Teen magazine, and El Semanario among many others. Her passion is to write quality content to enlighten, educate and entertain. Please visit her blog at https://www.rosatalavera.com