Trauma can make people feel some strong emotions. This can cause them to experience insomnia, flashbacks, and even develop trust issues, constant fear of danger, and the inability to connect with the other person. It takes some time to get over the incident, and fully recover from it. Some people are able to get back to their normal routine just after a few months, while for others it takes years to heal completely.
Vehicle accidents are one of such emotional trauma and people experience and manage their emotions differently Here is a brief account of the emotions a person may feel after the accident, and which can be broadly divided into five stages.
The initial stage is a shock, disbelief, and denial. It is hard to process and accept what has happened, especially when it is life altering. The person will take days to finally come in contact with the reality, and realise what they have done, and/or what has happened to them.
When the initial shock is transformed into acceptance, the person will feel anger. This anger could be intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic anger can lead to depression, whereas extrinsic anger leads to isolating themselves from the world. The person will be agitated and irritated all the time.
When the anger is directed towards the self, the person will start to blame himself or herself for the accident, especially when the other person got hurt and they were the survivors. There is also another guilt known as survivor’s guilt in which the person wished that they were at the victim’s place instead.
They feel that it is because of them that the life of another individual is affected negatively. But with time, some overcome this and stop blaming themselves by accepting their mistakes, while some get over it when other person is not wounded badly.
The person at this stage feels helpless, hopeless, and sad. This is because they do not know what to do, and how to make themselves and the other person feel better. There is a constant fight going on between their inner self, which does not seem to end.
Fear and Isolation
An accident is a frightening experience after which the person may internalise the feeling that something bad is going to happen. They develop a negative thinking pattern that affects all their thoughts and beliefs and keeps them anxious, fearful, and in a constant state of worry.
After feeling all the lows and highs, the person reaches a state where they do not feel anything. This is the stage of emotional numbness, which is a common symptom of depersonalization. This does not necessarily mean that they lack empathy, but this detachment is there to rationalise their thoughts, rather than getting overwhelmed by them.
After an accident, the doctors can heal the physical damage. The court can arrange for compensation. An Insurance company and a repair company can handle the repair and finances of the car. However, the emotional damage needs time and patience to recover. So be patient with yourself or the people who have been through an auto accident and are still recovering from psychological wounds.