The morning is silent. Even the usual distant traffic noise of the rush-hour mayhem is hushed. The busy road that runs through the village no longer channels the speeding cars and lorries that habitually thunder through this small village.

My village is closed to traffic. Vehicles that thought to pass through have become temporary residents, resigned to delay.

A little while ago, there was noise. Sirens blared their warnings in a life-or death dash to reach the scene of the accident. They sounded too many and too close for comfort… and the local radio’s news page confirmed that three cars and at least one lorry had been involved. People are being cut from vehicles and, at this stage, that is all I know.

Except that my family is safe. I called them to make sure… the son who drives that way to work, his partner and my granddaughters who must, like me, drive that way to get anywhere. Reassured that those I love are safe, I sit in this strange and isolating silence and try to breathe.  Old fears, already stirring after a weekend when one son went temporarily ‘off radar’, finally get the upper hand. My head pounds, my chest hurts and I shake as searing memories mingle with illogical ‘what ifs’.

I pray for those who are caught in this tragedy, waiting for the first departing siren that tells me that someone has been recovered alive and is on their way to hospital. It seems odd to sit here, apparently detached, while lives are held in the balance just moments away from my home. I feel the need to do something, even if it is only bear witness to an event unseen.

In every town and village, people are being born and leaving the world all the time, but when lives are ripped apart suddenly and violently, it is a different thing altogether. Unnatural. Shocking. And it is not only the lives of those caught in the immediate tragedy that are rent or scarred… the ripples run wide when violence strikes and the invisible damage can last a lifetime.

I know that all too well. Part of me laughs at myself. It is typical that we indulge our emotions once a perceived crisis is over and not before. We react to need first and panic later, usually when there is no longer any need. But that reaction is a necessary release and is a step towards healing.

Part of me acknowledges that some things never wholly heal, even when you think you have them sorted. I sit and write to regain focus and control. Force myself back to the present to stop the claws of old terror twisting my gut. There is no real cure for PTSD, no matter how it is acquired. There are only strategies that allow you to live with it, bury it, circumvent the worst of its potentially devastating effects. Most of the time.

Tinnitus wails in my ears, drowning the silence in self-defence. The newly cleaned floor smells of hospitals and I try to drag my mind back to the screen, away from the endless waiting beside the bed for some sign of life…

The dog barks at the cloud of starlings raiding the bird seed, calling me back. I can hear the first faint sounds of engines. Two hours have somehow passed since the sirens. The news says a man had been trapped and cut free, at least two people injured, it says nothing of how badly. It tells little of what they may yet suffer.

I stand at the door and cuddle the dog, grateful for her presence and the sound of traffic.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder created by being involved in, or witness to, severe or life-threatening and traumatic events. It is much misunderstood by the general public and can pass unnoticed by health professionals as many of its initial symptoms are those of a normal and predictable reaction to the trauma.

The difference between normal reaction and PTSD only becomes apparent when the symptoms persist with no amelioration or continue to increase. They can be intense, isolating and debilitating and they can last a lifetime. 

Modern counselling methods can be exceedingly effective in dealing with the symptoms and giving the sufferer back their life. Support and understanding from friends and relatives is invaluable. 

If you or someone you know may be suffering the effects of PTSD please seek help from your local health professional or through one of the many specialist organisations. Support on both professional and personal levels make a huge difference and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
This entry was posted in Brain injury, children, Life, Memory, terror and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Traffic…

  1. Mr. Militant Negro says:

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Erik says:

    Quite a different perspective on traffic from my own shared-title post this week. And yet, they do tie together; thankfulness and empathy have a way of quashing egocentric grumbles, don’t they?

    I know that harrowing situations from your past came into play here; but I also would like to suggest that a well-developed sense of empathy and true care for people — whether you know them or not — was also at work. These can be dual-edged swords, for sure. It’s tempting to wish we had an on/off switch at times. But when it comes down to it, I’d much rather care too much than too little.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Helen Jones says:

    Sending love, Sue xx


  4. jenanita01 says:

    We had a similar happening last week involving two motorcycle riders. The road outside our house was closed and different sirens came and went, spreading the tension for some distance. I know we weren’t the only neighbours who wished these people well, but it was a timely reminder that peril can come close to where you live…


  5. I wonder if you remember the terrible accident on the Leeds/Huddersfield road where Raikes Lane joins it? We’d have been about twelve or thirteen at the time, waiting for the bus to school. Two motorbikes and two cars. We saw one of the bikers tossed into the air, the flames from one of the cars, a dog in flames running away from the wreckage. My mum and another woman from Saint Pat’s who was a nurse stayed with them until the ambulances came. There were two bodies in the road, but no one thought to stop the traffic. I’ll always remember that scene, that has probably been modified by time, but remains horrific.


  6. Jane Sturgeon says:

    Hugs for you Sue ❤ and ❤ for all those touched by this. Xx


  7. *hugs* I’m glad none of your family was involved, though I feel for those who can’t say the same. I hope the road to recovery isn’t a long one for those injured in the accident.


  8. dgkaye says:

    We had something similar happen here this week, it’s heartbreaking to watch and empathize with the victims. Especially sad to hear such things near the holiday season. You’re so bang on Sue, often a terrible crises will flash us back to another we’ve encountered. I’m always praying for all the injured, sick and lost souls, and wonder if prayers are large enough to go round to everyone. ❤ xxx


  9. I hope you are ok Sue, It is so awful when lives are changed forever in just a few minutes. Hopefully, everyone involved will make a good recovery. 💖💖


  10. I’m always surprised at how I react to things that trigger childhood memories. I’m 70 — and that stuff was a very long time ago. But it is still “up there.” You are right. It never goes away and on some level, we are permanently frightened.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Widdershins says:

      I wonder if its that we do heal from such things, but like all wounds they leave scars, whether they’re imprinted on our bodies or our spirits, and our remembrance of them is sometimes closer to the surface than others.


      • Sue Vincent says:

        I think that depends on how you define healing. I have a lot of physical scars… sometimes they give me trouble. Emotional/psychological scars seem to do the same. When PTSD sneaks up you, it is more of a temporary relapse, just as severe as always, but shortlived.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Some things mark us so deeply that we learn to live with them, rather than simply ‘forgetting’ their effects. All experience forms part of who we become, but while some stuff casts a quiet shadow, others are restless ghosts.


  11. Widdershins says:

    Excellent idea to get small dog cuddles. 😀 … I know the feeling well. I still can’t go past the scene of an accident without tears welling up and my heart beating faster, and my accident was … hmm … how long ago was 1983? … heavens to murgatroid! 34 years ago! … sometimes it seems like it was only the day before yesterday.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      I haven’t heard Snagglepuss’s saying in probably as many years 🙂
      Odd isn’t it? My own really bad accident was forty years ago… and the memory fresh as a daisy, though not as pretty. That doesn’t affect me the same way as what happend to my son, yet any violence I witness brings that back to the surface. Memory is a strange creature.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. So well written. I feel your fear, your relief, then your worry and pain. And your enormous empathy. Sending hugs…


  13. noelleg44 says:

    This is a good post, Sue. We sometimes forget that not all PTSD is acquired on the battlefield. And you have certainly been through the wringer. Small dog cuddles can go a long way – just don’t forget to latch that gate! Hugs from me and Garfield.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      Thanks, Noelle. I didn’t even know it could be brought on by anything other than battlefield-scale trauma… and felt guilty that it had. It is still little understood and I have to wonder how many people suffer without help as they feel it is a ‘normal’ reaction to events and they need to ‘get over it’…both of which I was told by genuinely caring friends.


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