Ask Amy: ‘Drinking in what if’ after a traumatic event

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Dear Amy: Recently I was out for a car accident involving a young man who was trying to kill himself by jumping into the path of my car. My 2-year-old was in the car with me, but (thankfully) does not appear to have noticed when I hit the man.

The man survived, and I found out (through the police who arrived at the scene) that he had jumped into the road of another car a few minutes before.

I was simply the next car to come along.

The man admitted to both the ambulance staff and the police that he jumped in front of my car with the intent to commit suicide. Several officers tried to reassure me that I was not in trouble and that I was not doing anything wrong.

Amy, I can not stop running the events through my head (and unfortunately I have to repeat myself and relive it in connection with my insurance company).

I feel like I’m drowning in what-if. I think therapy would be beneficial to help me with this traumatic event, but I do not know where to start. Can you steer me towards some resources?

What if: Traumatic stress is a normal reaction to an abnormal event. Your brain will have its own way of dealing with this accident, and your brain may also rewire itself again to heal.

After researching your question, I read shocking stories about train conductors involved in hitting people who have jumped (or been pushed) onto the rails. A former operator whose train hit a man was quoted as saying, “As cruel as it makes it sound, for the person being hit by the train – it’s over. It’s just started for the train operator.”

The emotional effects of this type of unavoidable accident can continue and can sometimes manifest itself in physical symptoms.

Because your toddler was sitting in the car at the time, I assume your response may be even more complicated – such a relief that everyone survived the accident – but blame that it did happen at all, and fear that it may happen again.

A daily meditation practice (along with treatment) can help you breathe through your rumination. I highly recommend it.

You should see a trauma specialist. Your police department’s victim service program or the victim’s attorney should have a list of local therapists who can work with you.

Psychologytoday.com has a useful database of therapists and support groups that can be searched by location.

Dear Amy: I am the mother of two teenage daughters and would love advice on how to help them with a very annoying and inappropriate question that they often receive (and began receiving in their young years): “Do you have a boyfriend?”

I do not understand why this is interesting to so many people and why they think it is appropriate to ask, no matter how well they know them or when they are in front of other people, etc.

If our daughters answer no to this question, it seems that it only prolongs the misery with more questions and statements like “Why not?” or “I do not believe you!”

My daughters have not found a way to deal with the awkward position when so many people seem to regard it as a completely normal casual conversation and they want to be respectful of adults.

Or maybe we are too sensitive and it IS perfectly reasonable to ask a teenager about their romantic life?

Mother: Gak, I remember this question from my own teenage years! And as the never-dating high school kid, the question was both intrusive and (bonus!) A sure way to feel less than.

Reassure your girls that adults tend to ask about this because they want to connect but do not know how. They are probably not even particularly interested in the answer.

This annoyance will soon be followed by the also challenging “Where are you going to college?” questions.

Suggest that your teens find a way to laugh, and then distract with their own question: “Ha-ha – only my Instagram followers really know what I’m up to. Did you date in high school?”

Dear Amy: Your question from “Concerned“, who had begun hoarding food excessively in response to the pandemic, inspired me to write.

When concerned get their hoarding under control, I encourage them and others to consider donating to a food bank.

Donations have been down in many of our food banks and they could well use the help.

Crowded: Good advice. Thank you!

© 2022 by Amy Dickinson Distributed by Tribune Content Agency

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