By Terri Woosley
English Teacher, Putnam City West High School
Terri was named a Putnam City Schools Top Five Excellent Educator this year. As guest blogger this week,Terri chose to share a very personal story in hopes that we can all learn ways to survive and even thrive during this pandemic.
With COVID-19, we are all living in a time of great uncertainty and anxiety, but for those who are victims of trauma, it is even harder. Many of our students have experienced childhood trauma, and the coronavirus may be triggering that trauma response right now. They have no control. They can’t fight it or run from it, so the only strategy left is to avoid everything or to shut down. Unfortunately, our family understands this kind of struggle all too well.
Our daughter Kaylen was in a horrific car wreck on June 11, 2012. She has a severe traumatic brain injury, severe anxiety, complex PTSD, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, severe depression, OCD, and is hypervigilant. A glimpse into her daily life and the lives of our students suffering from trauma include avoidance, shutting down, fatigue, sleeplessness, sluggishness, depression, anxiety, paranoia, changes in eating habits, and trying to just survive the day.
Things that help include structure, maintaining a schedule, or establishing a routine. Many who suffer from trauma feel like they have no control. It helps them to know what is going to happen. Also, sights, sounds, and smells can all trigger flashbacks of their trauma. Knowing your students’ triggers may help you notify and prepare them, so you can lessen their anxiety.
Here is a little bit of our story:
Imagine sitting in your car at a stop light with your daughter in her own car in front of you. You watch the light turn green. Your daughter waits a few seconds before entering the intersection like you've taught her. You are smiling in your head at how smart she is. Then she starts to pull forward and out of the corner of your left eye, you see a car speeding right at her. You scream, "No!!!" And throw your arms outstretched in front of you as if you could stop that speeding car. Then you see it drive right through your daughter's body and car and watch her car flip three times, each time higher than the last one until it goes so high you cannot even see her car while peering out your front windshield.
The ambulance came and worked to resuscitate her. It didn't look good. When we finally got to OU Medical, they had to resuscitate her again in the emergency room. This ended up being the best day ever because she did make it through the day and night.
To jump ahead, Kaylen lives at home with us now. It’s been eight years since her wreck, and she is still on her journey to recovery. You can read more about her experience in her own words on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/kaylenewoosley or her website www.kaylenwoosley.com. She writes about many different topics such as trauma, depression, PTSD, anxiety, hardships, finding the good in bad situations Her words are inspiring, especially during times like these.
For help with any mental health issues for yourself, your family and your students, please visit A Chance to Change at www.achancetochange.org. You do not have to feel hopeless. There are people who can help.
April 23, 2020