A severe accident or injury is something none of us ever want to face, but unfortunately, even our greatest care and caution can’t always prevent such an outcome. Whether it’s a car crash, negligence by a doctor, or an accident at work, a major injury can leave us not just in physical pain, but emotional pain too. Just as it’s important to care for our bodies, it’s also important to consider the mental health impact of a serious accident and work to limit how it prevents us from enjoying our lives. Here are some tips for how to move past a serious injury with your mental health intact.
Accept your feelings without judgment or shame
When we’ve been in an accident, a whole cascade of emotions can run through our minds: anger, guilt, sorrow, and loss. These are all very normal reactions to a change in our circumstances, and they should be respected. It’s common to want to jump right back into normal life and act like nothing ever happened, which is much harder when we’ve been seriously injured, and that delay in healing can make us feel like we’re not doing enough to get better.
As you recover, approach your feelings with a sense of openness and curiosity; don’t judge yourself for feeling any particular way, or even not feeling a certain way. No matter what your emotions are, they are valid, and you should allow yourself to feel them without shame.
Lean on your support system
In a hyper-independent society, we often think that we can handle anything on our own; we might feel guilty for imposing on others by asking for help, or think that we’re a burden if we need more care than usual. However, respect your need for help: you’ve been seriously injured, and of course, you’re not going to be able to do everything you used to right away. Ask family and friends to assist you with whatever you might need, reminding yourself that being vulnerable now will make it easier to heal in the long term.
It can be embarrassing to ask for help with intimate tasks, or for someone to help you clean the house and cook, and that’s perfectly natural: we all want to be seen as strong and capable, even when we aren’t in the moment. In this circumstance, it’s often helpful to think about how you would react if someone you loved needed the same care, then extend that same sympathy to yourself. If your relative was recovering from surgery and needed you to pick up her groceries and medication, you probably wouldn’t think twice about it – and you’d likely want to bring her some of her favorite snacks and keep her company as she recovered. You deserve that exact same kind of help, so don’t be ashamed to lean on those who love you as you heal.
If you have a smaller support circle, you might need to search outside of that group for more specific help, such as with wound care or housekeeping. Know that there are companies available for nearly every personal need: you can hire a temporary caregiver to stop by and check on your injuries, as well as house cleaners that can perform those more labor-intensive tasks that are difficult at the moment. You can even purchase healthy, ready-made meals that will spare you the need to cook when you’re tired and in pain. These might seem like unnecessary luxuries, but remember that you need to focus your whole attention on healing, and if you can afford it, there’s no shame in using the help available.
Know there is professional, legal help available
When you’re focused on healing, the last thing you want to do is fight for justice in the courts, but there can be incredible peace of mind from knowing that you can be compensated for monetary and emotional damages stemming from your injury. Realizing that your injuries will be taken seriously and that you’ll get justice for what happened to you can be therapeutic, and you deserve that sense of wholeness.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will negotiate with third parties on your behalf and will be able to earn you a reasonable settlement that can cover most, if not all, of the costs associated with your injury. They’ll talk to insurance companies for you so that you can focus entirely on healing, and, with your permission, they’ll gather the appropriate medical documentation to prove that you’re entitled to a settlement.
Reading up on the personal injury lawsuit process will help you feel prepared to talk to a lawyer, as you’ll know what to expect every step of the way. A great attorney will also explain everything to you so that you know you’re in good hands.
Don’t underestimate the impact of certainty on your mental health, especially as many things can feel so strange and out of control while you recover. You deserve to feel secure in the knowledge that you’ll be taken care of, and that your injuries will be taken seriously by the insurance agencies and the court system.
While it’s easy to lose focus of our mental health when recovering from an injury, giving extra attention to how this situation has impacted you emotionally and socially can set you on the right track for a fast recovery – and for justice.