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Teenage Boy Asks about Numbness, Spaceyness after Car Accident

24 Jul

hello :). i am a healthy teen (19). i take care of my body, have a great life. but recently after going through some tough times dealing with a car accident and a few other things, my best friend who was my girlfriend left me, for a while.. had some realizations and now shes back ..

i went through a period of kinda a depressed state. i have these feelings of depersonalization, where i am "numb" to the world or just not there, i refuse to go through life that way . everything is great in my life now. i am happy :) but still sometimes those waves hit me. i would like you to recommend something that would help.

Julio

Hey, Julio,
Good for you for (1) knowing yourself well enough to notice these reactions you’ve been having and for (2) caring enough about yourself and your own welfare to reach out for some answers!  

The first thing I want to say is, don’t underestimate the power of that car accident – especially because you’re a teenager and therefore cranking out bucket loads o’ hormones anyway, and therefore extra-vulnerable to the biochemical cascade that follows a traumatizing event.  With most people, this results in weeks of wide, biochemical swings, back and forth, from being very adrenergized and hypervigilant (which usually means being cranky, anxious, agitated and angry, sometimes for no apparent reason) to being overly sedated with the body’s own endogenous opioids (leaving you feeling numb, out of it, emotionally flat, disconnected and isolated).  It’s the body’s way of trying to get back into balance, after that initial massive flooding.  

For most people it takes weeks or, even more likely, months for this balance to come back and restabilize.  And if you’ve had other traumatic events like this happen to you before, it can take even longer, because your nervous system is extra irritated and sensitive.

Of course, it didn’t help that your girlfriend left during this extra-vulnerable time (although it wouldn’t be the first time – jumpy, out-of-sorts, traumatized people aren’t always the easiest folks to be around, whether that’s from a car accident, combat, a hurricane or a mugging!  It just comes with the territory.  And if neither one of you understand what’s happening, it’s easy enough to take it all very personally.)

So the first thing I’d say is, expect this to be temporary – it’s very likely that it is. Second, I’d start working with some relaxation and self-regulation audio resources. Regular practice with guided imagery, breathwork, hypnosis, mindfulness meditation, yoga or chi gung will help you put your irritated neuronal network on ‘manual’ where you can downshift it yourself. This will hasten the body’s rebalancing process.




You may also want to try Mary Sise’s trauma-reducing, acu-point tapping video (Thought Field Therapy for Stress Management & Peak Performance) as well, to give you a protocol you can use whenever you feel your biochemistry is acting up beyond what you can negotiate.  It’s just another really good tool.

Either way, you’ll be relieved to know that, even though these tools will help you get through this better and faster, and will provide you with tools that will buttress your internal strength and resilience for a lifetime, you’d very likely get better anyway, even if you did nothing.

Best of luck to you and, if you think of it, drop an email in a few months and let me know how you’re doing.

All best,
Belleruth   

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award