Realizing My Vulnerability

Becoming Vulnerable: In the summer of 2013, I had returned from school to visit my parents and little sister who were living in Chicago at the time. My parents had a trip to go on and I was to watch my little five-year-old sister for the weekend. Besides a couple part-time jobs, I had not received much experience in looking after others. I did not expect it to be too difficult of a task until an event happened.

On a Sunday afternoon, we had been riding our bikes around the neighborhood. We had taken a route through an alleyway when I car began to pull out. My sister was about 30 feet in front of me and did not see the car coming, and the driver didn’t see her. I sprinted on my bike and was able to slam my hands on their rear window before they could hit my sister. She was inches and half a second away from being hit, but she was safe.

The Aftermath: After this event happened, I had begun experiencing symptoms of PTSD and started having unexpected panic attacks almost daily. I begun havingtheoandavery nightmares every night that kept me from getting a full night of sleep and I developed a fear of driving or even being inside of a car. This had never happened in my life before and it begun to take a toll on my daily life. With this vulnerability, I began to seek help.

It was difficult to accept my newfound vulnerabilities at first. There is so much stigma towards seeing a therapist or psychiatrist. I didn’t want to be seen as a crazy person. Realizing the need to live my life with this vulnerability helped me accept the fact that going to therapy and seeing a psychiatrist would be beneficial in the long-run.

I begun to see various mental health professionals in order to get back into the swing of things and live what I called a normal life. I did not want these mental health problems to define me or prevent me from enjoying my life. I was determined to overcome these obstacles.

Into the Jungle: After six months of treatment, I felt comfortable riding a bus. This enabled me to explore job opportunities that I was limited to with my fear of driving. It wasn’t easy. I had a few mistrials where I experienced panic attacks on the bus at first but I kept working with mental health professionals to limit these occurrences. This cemented the idea that I would have to live with my vulnerability, even if it made my life more difficult. I was determined to make it work.

I eventually became able to ride the bus and even my car to get wherever I needed to go. I would not have been able to do it if I didn’t seek help and find ways to accept and live with my vulnerability. I landed an internship at a refugee resettlement agency working with a case manager. I was able to start having a normal life again, albeit with my vulnerability of blistering anxiety.

Getting By: Today I still experience nightmares every night. I still have trouble getting a full night of sleep. I still have anxiety occasionally when I’m driving after seeing someone almost get in a wreck. I get nervous and will experience a panic attack walking in high-traffic areas when someone nearly runs into me.

With all these vulnerabilities, I am able to work through them. I work through them in order to enjoy my life and fulfill my life goals. If I let them define me and make me complacent, I wouldn’t be able to make it through life. Being able to cope with my vulnerabilities has helped me mature a great deal and provides me with pathways to get through other vulnerabilities that will come up in my future life.



5 thoughts on “Realizing My Vulnerability

  1. Hi Walter! Thank you for sharing your story, I think it was very brave to share this honest of a story with the class and I appreciate that. I cannot even imagine how you could have felt in those split seconds with your sister that is such a hard thing to have to go through. I also think it takes an incredibly strong person to realize they are having a hard time and seek help for themselves, so you should be proud you were able to recognize that.

  2. Hi Walter! Thank you for sharingg your scary experience. What were certain steps you took to try and overcome PTSD? I really respect you ability to understand that you were struggling with something and that you were able to seek help from others without feeling embarrassed. I hope you are still recovering strongly and improving rapidly! Thanks!

  3. Hi Walter! First thank you for opening up to all of us, and second I somewhat know how you feel after an accident like that. Mine was no where near as traumatic as yours but over thanksgiving of last year I was in an extremely bad car accident by someone running a red light and t-bonig my car. I was a half a second if not less away from being hit directly on the drivers seat. Due to this incident I would not let myself drive for months at home, and at CU. I also get nervous every time I am going through an intersection. I admire your strength in this situation and the love you have for your sister.

  4. Walter,
    I always say that people with anxiety, panic and/or PTSD have warrior hearts. Everything their bodies tell them says they are walking into unimaginable danger, and yet… They go anyway. Your rides on the bus, your time in the car, every time you put yourself in the way of what your brain and its chemistry are telling you are mortally dangerous things makes you stronger.

    Thank you for sharing this about yourself. You are right that there’s so much stigma around these issues and it can be hard to talk about, but again, you put yourself in vulnerability’s way. It paid off — everyone who read this post has a connection with you now that they wouldn’t have made otherwise.

    I write about my own mental health struggles and so I know it’s hard to put yourself out there like this. Thank you, thank you.

  5. Walter,

    Thanks for being so open in this post, what you did for your sister was very brave. I’m glad you’ve found the help that you need and realized there’s no shame in that.

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