Ask Andrew W.K.: Any Tips For Coping With Post-Traumatic Stress?
[Editor's note: Every Wednesday New York City's own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions, and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose or -- no surprise here -- a party. Need his help? Just ask: AskAWK@villagevoice.com]
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My name is Charlie. I'm a car salesman. Back in November I was involved in a car wreck during a test drive with a customer. No fatalities, thank goodness, but I did break some vertebrae in my neck. I had to take a leave of absence to recover. Good news is, I still have mobility and will make a full recovery. My problem is, the thought of going back to work scares me. I'm worried I won't be a good car salesman anymore, and that I won't keep my composure during test drives. What should I do?
It's entirely OK to feel exactly as you're feeling. Of course you're going to feel nervous about getting into a car again. That's more than understandable. Don't be too hard on yourself. All your emotions and reactions to this intense experience are OK.
Say that to yourself: "It's OK." Never feel bad about having feelings of fear, nervousness, or worry. Feelings and sensations make life come alive. Without them, we're just numb and not really living. You're allowed to feel any way you want. Embrace those feelings and fully feel them--that's how to get in touch with your inner self and instincts.
I think allowing yourself to feel how you feel will take a lot of the extra unnecessary pressure off your shoulders. It's going to take time to fully understand and absorb what happened to you. So give yourself a break. Even if other people you work with don't understand, screw 'em. Allow yourself to go back into work and the test drives and let the feelings come as they will. Putting it off for too long will only build more fear and painful anticipation.It's going to be intense, but it's going to be OK.
The ideal situation is to harness the best that your feelings have to offer, and use those feelings directly to better yourself. Transform the feeling of fear into a physical energy that moves you ahead. Intense events will happen in life. But you're strong enough to keep going and absorb whatever good they have to offer. Stay strong and allow yourself to feel how you feel. You're going to make it through this and be stronger and braver as a result.