memento mori

(CW: physical trauma, PTSD)

I hate Spring. Where most people see the promise of life, hope, and sunny days, I see spiders, tornado warnings, and pollen making my life hell. Okay, so maybe that’s a little dramatic, even if I do literally lose sleep over the arachnophobia sometimes. Eight years ago, I got a new reason to dread this season.

The surgeons said I was lucky to have not been fully awake when it happened; if I’d been alert enough to brace for the impact, the damage would have been even worse. They screwed my spine back together, reinforced my shoulder, set my leg in a cast, monitored my lung and spleen until they’d healed.

When I was discharged a month later, there were no care instructions for my mind.

The first time I drove after the crash, I got nervous after accelerating past 30 mph. When I was on an overpass and couldn’t see beyond a rise in the road, I screamed. I began having nightmares as I was falling asleep. I still don’t know which is worse, those or the actual dreams in which a normal car ride turns into a fatal sequel.

I still don’t understand how I managed to become more scared over time. At the moment, when I was trapped in the car, my entire body a burning blur of pain, I was oddly calm. I thought, Well, this is it. But now, I find myself too often preoccupied by the idea of my mortality.

I can take at least one good thing away from all this, as constantly pondering one’s inevitable death is a great way to end up on the (secular) Buddhist path. The dharma can’t cure PTSD, but it has helped me understand my mind a bit better. Although I was frustrated when I realized I’d still need professional help, it was nice to hear my therapist compliment my objective self-analysis.

This is my third attempt at writing this post, and I can’t think of a way to end it but I need to wrap it up now. For now, let’s just say this is part one of two and see what happens tomorrow.

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