When Accidents Happen:
Managing the Aftermath of Vehicle-Related Incidents

We hear about them on the news, we know people who have had them, but to experience a car accident first-hand can be a scary and sometimes life-altering experience. When we enter our vehicle, we generally enter with expectation that we will arrive safely at our destination. When something happens, this base assumption feels shattered and our beliefs about our own sense of safety in the world can feel called into question. Physical injuries can vary from mild to incredibly severe and life changing, and the mental and emotional scars can emerge immediately or sometimes months after the event. Seeking support can feel complicated and intimidating, particularly when recovering from injuries and experiencing fatigue and pain.

Some of the emotional/psychological impacts often experienced by car accident survivors can include: Depression; Anxiety; Acute Stress Disorder; Posttraumatic Stress Disorder; Panic Disorder. These types of concerns are normal after an experience that provokes feelings of fear, helplessness and overwhelm. Experiences that elicit these types of feelings can challenge how the brain makes sense of the world around it, and elicit symptoms that can be difficult to manage. The course of recovery and the stress of self-advocacy often involved in the claim process can take a toll and add additional stress, occasionally provoking or worsening symptoms.

Things You Can Do To Help:

  1. Have a plan. Create, or have someone help you to create, a plan including specific things that help you feel a little bit better when you’re struggling. Get creative, and allow those who know you best to add ideas. Research about self-care and focus on caring actions that are doable given any injuries, or varying degrees of energy.
  2. Focus on small successes. The process can be long, and sometimes feel like one step forward and twenty steps back. Try to keep your eyes on the small successes day to day, journal about them to help make them concrete and something you can review easily, and talk with others about them.
  3. Connect. One of the temptations when in pain, or when overwhelmed, is to shut down and shut others out. Sometimes this is helpful to rest and recover, but can lead to challenges if allowed to continue for too long. Connect with your safe people, and be open to seeking out connections with new people who may have understanding for what you are going through. There are often groups run through community programs around topics like depression, anxiety, chronic pain, etc. and can be helpful places to glean some tools and make some connections.
  4. Get Help. If you are struggling with your mood, or feeling fearful, seek professional support. ICBC has made some recent changes, mentioned below, allowing easier access to counselling support.

Beginning April 1, 2019, ICBC will allow up to 12 pre-authorized sessions to car accident victims within the 12 weeks immediately following their crash. Beyond this, victims are able to get extensions for additional ongoing care when supported by their health care team. This change facilitates access with no need for approval from an ICBC Client Care Specialist. At ThriveLife, our team includes several counsellors covered by ICBC – please contact us at [email protected] if you would like to be connected to one of our ICBC approved clinical counsellors.

Events that are out of our control can leave us feeling out of control. Take back your life and seek support to grow. change. live… Thrive.

About the Author
Lindsay Faas

Lindsay Faas

Counsellor & Owner/Director of ThriveLife Counselling & Wellness. Find out more about her counselling work here.

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