Dear Dr. Romance:
I saw your article "Surviving Loss and Thriving Again" while searching for answers to my own issues. The 'loved one' I lost was myself. I loved life, loved adventure, travel, people, photography, mostly adventure! In 2 seconds my life was 'taken' away pretty much. This week the pain seems more overwhelming, so I'm more depressed, and that's why I came across your site.
Several years ago I was severely injured in an accident and I suffered severe facial disfigurement and a back injury that left severe residual pain. If you met me, you'd never know how I feel. I mostly avoid people, not wanting anyone to have to look at this awful disfigured face. Some people seem to handle these situations better it appears - but I believe that when they're home alone, they cry as I do when I allow the tears to overwhelm me now and again. No, I'm not suicidal, just sad, very sad.
Life ended that day in many ways for me. I was a photojournalist most of my life. Now I have to pull my camera bag on wheels, and the pain I try to ignore, so I can be 'normal' takes hold of me and insists I lay down or pass out.
My family was and is wonderful, (daughter, son, mother) but they have their own lives. Yes, I'm happy that I can walk, that I can see - I was expected to be paralyzed, brain-damaged. I'm not, but my psyche is very damaged.
I do not want to let anyone look at my face - I only go out with big sunglasses on. I don't let anyone get close. People will say I don't look that bad but seeing myself in a current family photo instantly puts me in a very deep spiral of depression and tears, for days. I don't take drugs for pain - they make me very sick.
I do have a 'boyfriend' who still loves me but I don't want him to look at me or see me in a state where I'm always having to lay down to recuperate, so I now live far away from him. Yes, I know if the roles were reversed, I wouldn't care, but I cut people out of my life because I 'read' into them how I might feel.
I can't find myself anywhere. Part of me is still flying through the air, waiting to land - perpetually between dimensions, not really all here. I lack the incredible drive I had. Today, whatever I try to do physically, I must stop after a few minutes because of intense pain. I'm always reminded of my plight, and that makes me very very upset, angry, pissed-off, and sad. I look forward to my next life, and leaving this one behind - when the time comes.
Since I 'died'several times at the accident scene, I saw beyond our life here on Earth, and I know the place our spirit goes is very beautiful. I look forward to going there as do many who've survived a terrible accident.
What can anyone say to make me feel better? How can I help others, thus helping myself feel better? How can I feel less worthless? How can I escape constant pain?
I'm so sorry for your pain. Your feelings are normal for someone with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have dealt with several clients with problems as severe as yours. Some of my clients have been physically damaged by falls or car accidents, some by fire. The trauma of the original accident, along with the ongoing emotional and physical pain, have to be dealt with so you can move on.
You did survive, and you're strong and brave enough to keep going, so I think you want to live. You need to find some meaning in your life as it is now -- to say goodbye to the person you used to be, and hello to the possibilities of who you are. Many people have found meaning in tragedy, and it gives life purpose. You might find some help in my article "The Meaning of Life". The Real 13th Step: Discovering Confidence, Self-Reliance and Independence Beyond the Twelve -Step Programs will show you how people overcome difficulties and reclaim themselves after disaster, and how you can, too.