My year thus far feels very neatly divided into pre-accident and post-accident. Pre-accident, I spent a month not drinking, and felt happier than I think I’ve felt in a long time. Post-accident, I’ve cried my eyes out a thousand times, I’ve faced some fears, and just when I feel like I’ve got all the threads of my life safely in my hand, I realise I’ve dropped one and it all falls apart around me.
Pre-accident, I rode my bike with the wind in my hair. Post-accident, I’m so horribly anxious about cycling. I worry about everything on my bike – the handlebars, of course, but also every other component part. I convinced myself my wheel was coming loose and had to pull over at the side of Old Kent Road to check. It wasn’t. Every noise, every bump, I’m sure it’s something failing. And that I’ll fall.
I find myself thinking about death a lot. I imagine what it would be like to be hit by the lorries I see every day. I imagine what it would be like to fall going around Elephant & Castle roundabout. I imagine slipping on a drain cover and going underneath a bus.
I don’t have recurring nightmares any more. Four weeks of seeing the ground rise up to meet me every time I shut my eyes is too much to deal with. I can’t describe the dream without crying, which resulted in locking myself in the loos at work to sob on more than one occasion.
I need to remember that no matter how bad things now, at least I don’t have the nightmares.
It’s not that I’m worried about the pain. The pain was bad, but it was manageable. I can deal with the tangible. A broken elbow, damaged tendons, whiplash, cuts and bruises. These are fine. It’s the loss of control, the fear of the unknown.
I worry when I’m riding and I worry when I’m not riding about the fact that I worry when I’m riding.
I can’t escape my head.