Throughout my life I can honestly say I only ever feel 100% content when I write. There is something so therapeutic, and pleasing about written expression. The satisfaction of writing a piece, and reading it back, impressing yourself – there’s no feeling that could compare. It was my first love. It’s where I go when I have nowhere else to turn.
There came a time in my life where I explored a new love for something inanimate. It all started about 4 years ago, after learning to drive and working in a garage for over 5 years. I fell head over heels in love with cars. Not just any cars, I’m a proud purist. I crave big engines, petrol guzzling performance German cars with sweet exhaust notes resounding from the natural aspiration. Driving fast cars became an unhealthy obsession for me. As a newly qualified driver, this can be an issue as insurance is super expensive or just damn right non-feasible. I was patient. Eventually I found myself at 25, driving a 3 litre straight 6 convertible bmw. It seemed like I had finally got what I had been craving for so long. Responsive, rapid, smooth. She was my baby and she served me well.
Until one day everything changed. It was a perfectly normal Sunday. The sky was filled with grey, overcast clouds, typical English weather for this time of year. If only I had realised those grey clouds were quite prophetic at the time. I had just been out to Putney with my friend, and we were heading back to go for lunch. In fact, the plan was to drive the scenic route back and stop to take some pictures for my blog. She would use my new phone to shoot some outfit pics for social media and my blog.
Billie Eilish with her gothic, yet innocent voice was singing solemnly in the background. ‘BANG’. Suddenly we jolted forward. I felt the force of the car; we were stationery and someone had crashed straight into the back of us. I looked at Elizabeth, and I said ‘Did someone just hit my car?!’. She replied yes, and from then on everything moved so fast, that only now I have decided to write about it I am recalling what happened with clarity.
We both, instinctively, put the hazard lights on and got out of the car. The guy was stood there in tracksuit bottoms and trainers, so very casual, as if he just got out of bed. ‘I’m sorry I don’t know what happened my foot slipped, i was supposed to brake but I accelerated..’. I checked the damage on my car, and my heart dropped. The rear bumper was squashed in, the M Sport plastic trim was ruined and my exhaust was skewed.
By the time we exchanged details and left the scene, I can now tell in hindsight, Elizabeth and I were in shock. We went for lunch. I felt fine driving my car because it’s second nature. Of course I was a little anxious at first, and I drove more carefully than I ever have in my entire driving career. We had lunch. And I said to Elizabeth that I wouldn’t let this man ruin our plans. So I proceeded to drive her home, stopping down a country lane with mansions and greenery. We had our photo shoot, it felt tainted but I was determined to be okay after our earlier incident.
Once I returned home is when the real nightmare started. I was shaking uncontrollably, and I put that down to shock. I tried to rest, but my mind was completely restless. My shoulder was stiff where I bolted forward at an awkward angle, my back was aching. And I knew this was just the beginning. I was so distressed that I tried to cry, but the tears just wouldn’t come out. Instead I sat in bed shaking, trembling and suffering.
The next day was worse. I decided to go to work and brush off this new found anxiety down to the incident which had occurred the day before. Of course I’m going to be anxious I thought, but I’ll be fine. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Somehow I got through that first day back at work. Although, the entire day I was stressed, having hot flushes, shaking and struggling not to cry. The whole day I just felt like I was grieving something or someone. It was a horrible feeling that I couldn’t shake off. I think it must have been confusing for onlookers, okay I’ve had a car crash but I’m in one piece and I’m at work. So I must be fine right?
I spent that entire Monday on the phone. On the phone to my insurance, to a hire car firm, to the other party’s insurance. It was daunting, and I felt I had no guidance whatsoever. I tried my best to sort everything out. I knew I needed help as soon as I got home that evening. My entire lower back and neck were aching, I had bellyache and a headache. All due to the crash. By the time I saw a doctor the next day I was on the verge of having a mental breakdown. I was feeling severely emotional, fragile, irritable, and anxious. I got into the gp’s room, he started to ask me a few questions about the incident. As soon as I had began to explain, I burst uncontrollably into tears and I couldn’t stop. I apologised embarrassingly, and I could see in his face he was a little taken back. I got drugs from the doctor, strong painkillers and Valium for anxiety. They are helping.
I’m sure car crashes are even more common than I ever anticipated. But I don’t really see people discussing the psychological effects of them. Yes, I have pain in my back and neck and whilst that makes me irritable – it can be treated with strong painkillers and subsided. The emotional pain can’t really be treated in the same manner. I’m sure I’ll be referred for counselling, but in the meantime I am left to dabble with my own traumatic thoughts. Is someone else going to crash into me? Is something terrible going to happen? Am I cursed? When is this nightmare going to end?
Logically I know that it will take time, I just hope to god that my passion for driving and cars is not destroyed forever.
Because what is life without passion?