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The Impact of Trauma – Nothing Can Prepare You by Dawne McKay

The Impact of Trauma – Nothing Can Prepare You

by Dawne McKay

| PTSD: My Story Project #012

Trigger warning

I have been aware of the term Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder long before my horrific motor vehicle crash. However, I never knew what it involved until it happened to me. Only then did I truly understand the impact of trauma. After being rear-ended at a high rate of speed and pushed into the path of a transport truck, my life as I knew it changed in a matter of seconds. Over 10 years later, I still only remember bits and pieces of that morning.

On the right side a portrait of a woman with blond hair and on the left side the title PTSD: My Story Project and a PTSD warrior inspirational quote about trauma on Journeyofsmiley blog

Read also ‘The Effects of Childhood Trauma on Adulthood by Wanda Lopez

What happened?

I knew something was wrong. I started my recovery journey at home and was experiencing terrible nightmares and waking up at all hours of the night drenched in sweat. 

The pain was intense as I had multiple injuries including a traumatic brain injury. On top of the pain, I had difficulty sleeping. Every time I tried to relax, I would face the fear of reliving the crash. I was also having an extremely hard time keeping track of anything. I was starting to question whether or not it was all just a bad dream from which I would wake up from one morning and everything would be back to the way it was. Daily Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, follow-up appointments at the trauma hospital, head injury clinic, appointments with family doctors… the list was endless. I was second-guessing myself each and every day. And I was fighting it – I was trying my best to bury my trauma.

Over and over and over again I would question myself, ‘What happened?’ I was trying to make sense of it. I was struggling to put the pieces of that morning together. I was in shock, I was in denial, and I was questioning myself if any of it was real. Who was that man standing in the middle of the road in overalls on the day of my crash looking at me with such caring eyes?

Read also ‘There Is Nothing Wrong With You by Karen Sargent

The impact of trauma

Trauma. You’ve heard of it. You may think you understand what it is. And you are sensitive to those who are experiencing it, but you don’t know really know until you actually face it. Only then do you truly understand the impact of trauma.

When you have been involved in a serious motor vehicle crash, you may often find that recovering psychologically after a motor vehicle crash is every bit as difficult as getting over the physical injuries caused by the crash. As Dr. James Zender discusses in his article, in his clinical experience, flashbacks and nightmares of the crash subside with time. However, he states that they can be re-triggered.

Although I had great support as I started my recovery, I still felt that I was in need of professional help. The impact of trauma was immense. I was experiencing terrible nightmares, anxiety, flashbacks, and a great sense of loss. My anxiety during recovery was terrifying at times as I was extremely overwhelmed. At the time, I didn’t realize that my body and mind were trying to protect me from the vast amount of trauma that I experienced that day.

The morning of my crash, I was surrounded by numerous first responders at an intersection in the middle of the road. 

I was vulnerable, alone, cold, and scared. I could not see anything, but I could hear so many voices. One of those voices was an off-duty firefighter telling me not to move as he held my hand waiting for the ambulance. So, who was that man in the middle of the road that I saw?  

A woman holding her face covered with both of her hands.

Read also ‘On My Journey of Trauma Healing by Natasha Levai

You are not alone

If you are a crash survivor, you need to understand that you are not alone. Emotional trauma from a motor vehicle crash is real, and it is nothing to be embarrassed about. Please do not suffer in silence. Get the help and support you need from family, friends, or experienced professionals. Always make sure that you are your own advocate during the recovery journey. And if something doesn’t feel right mentally or physically, speak with a medical professional as soon as possible.

Trauma impacts your everyday life, and the scars you can’t see are the hardest to heal. And it will take time. I thank myself for being brave enough to seek professional help. And when using the coping mechanisms recommended by my psychologist to get through a difficult moment, I often wonder if he is aware of how much of a difference he made to my life as a survivor of a crash that left me so broken.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to be a part of the PTSD: My Story Project. By sharing our stories, we bring awareness to the trauma many of us endure after a life-changing incident. Being able to connect with others who experienced trauma is comforting, as is knowing that we are not alone.

S. Dawne McKay

S. Dawne McKay is a survivor of a horrific crash that changed her life forever. Dawne is the founder of the Crash Support Network, a unique one-of-a-kind website that provides a helpful resource for survivors of motor vehicle crashes.  She continues to donate countless hours to her crash survivor community by sharing resources, highly informative articles, and blogs about her own personal experience. Dawne also shares inspiring posts with survivors from all across the world.  Her book, ‘Talk Crash to Me – What to Expect After Surviving a Collision and How to Manage Your Recovery‘, is available for purchase on Amazon. You can connect with Dawne on her Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, or join her Facebook group.

Read more real-life stories from trauma survivors here: ‘PTSD: My Story Project‘.

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PTSD: My Story Project

Do you have experience with PTSD, or do you take care of / live with someone who has? Would you like to share your story in a guest blog post? 


I’m not an expert or a health professional, so the aim of this project isn’t to offer professional advice. Neither is it to pity those who experience PTSD. That’s not what I want. My aim is to raise awareness of PTSD. By sharing your story, you can inspire and empower others. You can highlight the methods that helped you. This way, you can encourage others to reach out for help.

And it may help you as well. Perhaps it’s something you feel like you’re not able to talk about within your closest circle and would like to connect with others in a similar situation. It’s nothing more than bearing an untold story inside you. The fact is that our society still lacks an understanding of mental health.  Therefore, I’ve decided to share my story and invite others to join me in this project and write a blog post about their experience. By working together, we can help destigmatise mental health problems and promote well-being.

To be featured

If you would like to join in and share your story on my blog but don’t have the experience of writing a blog post, this isn’t a problem. You can still contact me, and I’d be happy to assist you with the writing. And you can use a pseudonym if you wish to stay anonymous. You can share as much of your story as you want in a way you feel comfortable with.

The only thing I ask is that you mention ‘PTSD: My story project’ in your post and briefly state why you have chosen to take part in it.  You will be allowed to approve the post before publishing it, should it be edited.

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17 thoughts on “The Impact of Trauma – Nothing Can Prepare You by Dawne McKay”

  1. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to go through something like that. I read and re-read the lines and feel how lucky I am in my life. It’s truly incredibly motivating to be reading about people who have found the strength not only to get over this but also help others. It was difficult to read the lines. The tragedy of such incidents is indeed unthinkable and I felt a considerable degree of sadness while reading the post. I am sorry for everyone who faces such difficulties in life. Thank you for your courage and dedication. I am sure your effort makes a difference to many people. Sending you prayers and positive energy.

    1. Thank you for your kind words Sonia. It’s a topic that is not easily discussed but talking about it with someone that understands makes a world of difference. They key is to recognize it and seek help as it’s so important to our recovery journeys. Dawne

  2. It’s so important and needed for you to be sharing this subject with others. So many people live with their trauma and ptsd and feel like they have no support or don’t seek help! Keep up the great work!!

    1. Thank you Lisa. It is crucial to bring awareness to this as so many crash survivors will experience it. Dawne

  3. This article made me feel like i wasn’t alone. Six months ago I too almot lost my life due to a car crash. I’m glad there are perople I can resignate with. When i came to there were fire trucks and ambulances everywhere I was bleeding from head to toe and was so confused.

    I think you’ve inspired me to share my story too. Thank you!

    1. Leslie, I am so sorry you also had to go through it. But I am so glad you decided to share your story. Indeed, sharing our stories makes us realises that we are not alone. I would like to have you on board PTSD: My Story Project, if you would be willing to share your story and be part of it. Just let me know… Sending strength and prayers!

    2. Thank you Leslie. I’m so sorry to hear of your crash and I am so pleased to hear that reading my article made you feel less alone. Recovery is hard and we need to feel supported. I’m happy to hear that I may have inspired you to share your story. I found it very therapeutic to write my feelings down in a journal and re-visited it at a later time. Best wishes and sending you positive healing vibes. Dawne

  4. It is surely hard to understand what someone goes through by just hearing them and everyone trauma is unique to them. Thank you for sharing your experience, in sharing others can heal as well.

  5. The resource you’ve included for seeking help and support are incredibly valuable, making this post not only a source of education but also a source of hope. Thank you for sharing your story and raising awareness about the importance of mental health.

    1. Thank you for your kind feedback Alpana. There is hope after being injured in a motor vehicle crash and no one should ever feel alone while they recover. Trauma is so common and quite often we try to fight it – but it’s so important to recognize it and speak to someone about it. I am thankful I shared my story.

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