11 years ago I was struck down by an 80-year old man speeding in his mini-van at 55mph while I walked across the street. My body flew into the intersection, where my head was 1-foot away from being crushed by a passing 18-wheeler.

17 at the time, I was still learning to drive. I was supposed to be completing my driving time with an instructor. Instead, I was trapped in a recovery bed of University Of Maryland Shock Trauma fighting for my life.

In the years that followed the accident, I learned to walk and run again. My physical wounds healed, but emotionally, I was scarred.

Not long after the accident I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, unable to cross streets unassisted or enter cars without panicking. I allowed my Learner’s Permit to expire and accepted the belief that I would never drive, never have a License, and never escape this trauma.

For 11 years, my husband served as my personal chauffeur, with Uber as a trusty back-up.

With this system, I could save money by not needing a car or insurance and I could completely avoid situations that triggered my trauma.

Despite these best efforts, I still lived with fear spilling into everything. I grew an enormous fear of trains, planes, heights, diseases, germs. Everything felt like a threat. That fear was crippling.

I realized I couldn’t hide from the trauma, so once and for all, I decided to face it. Today, I am the proud owner of a Driver’s License -– and my first car! Here are three of the top tips that can help you face your fears and find freedom from your trauma:

1. Recovery Requires A Safe Environment.

For the first 4 years, I stayed in the same city where the accident happened. I maintained contact with family members who abused me. I was surrounded by constant triggers and, without the support system in place to help me cope, I fell into a deep depression. My recovery was not possible in this trigger-filed, unsafe, toxic environment.

It was time for a change. My husband and I moved to another state where I became estranged from my abusive family members. Finally in a peaceful, safe, and supportive living environment, free from triggers, I could live without being in a constant state of anxiety.

2. Talk About Trauma - Privately And Publicly - Until It Becomes A Story.

I started talking about my trauma privately, seeing a therapist one-on-one once a week. In this time, I also wrote poems about the accident. Eventually, I felt comfortable sharing my story publicly. I began by sharing my poems. That grew into video blogs. Eventually, I was invited to share my story as a Public Speaker. I cried the first time I told my story on stage at the University Of New Hampshire.

I never told the story in a format that I wasn’t ready for, to people I wasn’t ready to talk to, or at times when I wasn’t ready to talk. I gave myself the safe space to move at a pace that felt comfortable for me.

After years of sharing my story in various forms - in conversations, in blogs, in videos, in speeches, on social media, in poems, and more - it began to feel like...just that... a story. Talking about the trauma disconnected me from the pain.

3. Replace The Trauma With A New Memory.

The accident happened on June 17, 2008. Every year, closer to the date, my anxiety rose. I began to associate anxiety with summer. 17 became an unlucky number -- until my husband had the smart idea to replace the date with a new memory. On  June 17, 2017, I got my first tattoo – A bandaid over my scar, in the color of the PTSD awareness ribbon.

In 2019 June 17 came and went without me even realizing, for the first time since the accident.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can manifest in many ways. It takes time, more than anything, for it to heal. Once you take these steps, that time will begin to shorten and that fear will begin to diminish. No matter how difficult it may feel now, I want you to know there is hope.


Amanda Goldman-Petri is a “work smarter marketing expert,” online coach for entrepreneurs and Founder/CEO of Market Like A Nerd, a full service digital marketing firm. www.marketlikeanerd.com

Author's Bio: 

Thanks for reading.