Part Two: That Time I Was Hit By A Truck

This post is part 2 of 2 in the series:
That Time I was Hit by a Truck!
Part Two: That Time I Was Hit By A Truck

If you’ve spoken to me for even two seconds this year, I’m sure that I’ve mentioned that I got hit by a truck in February. If, by some miracle, I did not bring it up, I did write a post soon afterwards, telling the story of that day, with no details about the aftermath.

Well, it’s been six months since then. I bought and broke a whole new car, I learned how to drive manual, I’ve even come around to keeping random items in said car. The insurance companies have come to their conclusions, and I’ve learnt to manage my anxieties.

Shortly after the crash, the police and ambulance rocked up. Everyone involved in the collision was told to swap details. They insisted that I go in the ambulance to the hospital to check everything was fine. So, the towing man helped me grab all the essential things from my car while I filled out some paperwork. Luckily, I was headed home for a few days, so I had an overnight bag packed, ready to grab.

I don’t like to carry a handbag, and my phone tap to pay didn’t work back then, so at that point, I used to keep my EFTPOS card in the back of my phone case. I took my phone case off when I put my phone in the holder for the trip home, and long story short, I lost my EFTPOS card. It would have expired 10 days later, but my mum had it cancelled just in case. It takes time for a new card to get processed. So for a week or so, I lived off of some cash, like a caveman. Regardless, the EFTPOS card was the last thing on my mind.

Truthfully, at that point, there wasn’t much on my mind at all. It didn’t feel real. I didn’t even really cry that day or the day following. I teared up here and there, but it was honestly a blur of sorting things out and re-telling the event to everyone who asked. I went to sleep that night expecting to wake up and find it was just a vivid dream.

I’ve experienced a lot of dissociation in my time. To some people, ‘dissociation’ is just a mental health buzzword thrown around online. In my case, it’s a state that my mind goes into when something happens that I can’t emotionally handle. It is safe mode. It is survival mode. But when it wears off, I have to feel everything that was blocked. So, naturally, the few months following the accident were filled with jitters, upset stomachs, tears and brain-scrambling anxiety.

My Dad’s best friend lives in Sydney and was pretty close, so she came to meet me at the hospital and took me back to her place afterwards. They did the basic checks on me while I was in the hallway because the hospital was overcrowded. I opted out of seeing a doctor because honestly, being in a crowded hospital in the middle of a pandemic waiting around only to inevitably be told that I’m fine didn’t sound too fun for me. I just wanted to go home. Meanwhile, Dad spent his day driving to Sydney.

About a week later, I took the train after work to meet Dad and my brother, Dylan in Cronulla, to pick up a new car. I’ve talked about it in a past post, but my phone and laptop went flat on the way there, so it was just me and my camera and a place I’d never been for the few hours before dad and Dylan arrived. The car is a manual, so I couldn’t drive it back to Wollongong myself. Dad taught me the basics of how to drive it in a day. It was very stressful.

After that, it was just practice. Unfortunately, I managed to break an engine mount at some point, so the engine was left swinging back and forth every time I touched the pedals. Trying to drive with that engine mount was like trying to learn to walk with a broken knee. So, after the ever allusive Peugeot spare part was found, the car got fixed. Then began the several month-long journey of learning to drive again. Both in terms of mastering the mechanics of driving a manual – and combatting my own anxieties.

Fortunately, neither of my degrees at uni involve doing exams, so for me, the uni break started early, and in that time, I attempted to drive back home to Dubbo for the first time since February. Stop holding your breath; I made it safely. That was good closure for me because when a truck company tries to get you to pay them more money than you’ll make your entire life as an arts student, you start to second guess your driving ability.

I never understood people who were emotionally attached to their cars, and I didn’t realise how much my first car meant to me until it got all crunched up. It meant freedom and safety. It was the first big thing I’ve spent my money on, and it was the first space that was 100% mine. I’m picky. That car was one of two models that I liked the design of. That blue was my favourite colour. I made sure it always smelt like lavender. The sound system was crisp as anything, so I could listen to my favourite music, loud and clear. It was a small silver lining to the shocker of a year that 2020 was. It took me months to stop resenting my new car, just for not being my old one. But, we’ve made friends, me and Champ (that’s the new car’s name), and now I just sit in it for half an hour after driving home from work.

Before Wollongong got put into lockdown, I finally got some great news – the insurance company found me to have been in the right. I won. I am someone who notoriously hated driving. It took me years to learn, half because I didn’t have the time and also because it scared me shitless. It scared me for two reasons. One, you’re more likely to die in a car accident than anything else, and, two, it was the first thing I tried that I wasn’t immediately good at. I hadn’t faced my fear of failure. Luckily, and unluckily, my fears faced me, through the driver’s side window of a little blue Peugeot 206. R.I.P Chelsea.

The whole experience gave me perspective. After being alive for 19 long troublesome years, this one event finally brought my mental health challenges to a head, and I was in a situation where I had no choice but to face my fears and learn to cope. I’m grateful for that because, at the moment, I feel the most in control as I have my whole life. Suddenly driving an auto around a flat city like Dubbo sounds like the easiest, calmest thing in the world. At this point, hill starts aren’t a problem, car accidents aren’t the end of the world, and you can replace things, but you can’t replace people.