Complex post-traumatic stress disorder

A real life story of recovery

complex post-traumatic stress disorder

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder

This page is about the impact of PTSD on a woman I will call Lucy (not her real name) and her subsequent complete recovery.

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder

Lucy was in her 40s and together with her family, was involved in a serious car crash.

Setting off from home in the early evening, with the evening sun in her eyes, Lucy started to drive along a slip road (ramp), ready to accelerate onto the highway, however, the sun was in her eyes and she could not see the road ahead, and so she braked, the large van behind her crashed into her car, and because her car was quite small- nearly drove her car onto the highway into oncoming traffic.

Her husband, herself and her two young children managed to get out of the car, although the two children had difficulty in getting out of the car as their seats had been crushed from the back. It was not long before the police and ambulance arrived, taking her (with a possible whiplash injury) to the hospital.

Her car was a write off.

Three years later Lucy embarked on a course of 12 therapy treatments to treat posttraumatic stress disorder.

For the previous three years, Lucy had suffered from various symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. One of her main symptoms was experiencing panic attacks when driving on slip roads (ramps), because of this, she avoided driving on slip roads and motorways(expressway/freeways), she only drove on small town roads, and if she had to get to a city, she would drive on the back roads or take the train.

During the three years prior to treatment Lucy had also suffered from depression, (she felt embarrassed about feeling depressed) anxiety and guilt (she felt the car crash was her fault).

Lucy’s symptoms were quite normal for PTSD:

Panic attacks




Avoidant behaviour

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder

The twelve therapy treatments she had, certainly changed her life because she was able to start driving normally again on the motorway (expressway/freeways), she completely got her confidence back when driving in any situation. This renewed driving confidence impacted positively on the rest of her life, her depression went and she felt as though she had got her life back.

Her treatment consisted of working closely with one therapist, establishing a therapeutic alliance; this alliance enabled her to have trust and confidence in her ability to get herself better. Counselling, EMDR and taking advanced driving lessons also really helped her on her road to recovery.

Lucy felt that if she had got therapy earlier she would have saved herself a lot of trouble and suffering!

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