I think it is important to be open with what we are going through, so I want to share that earlier this year, I went through something quite traumatic. Since then, I have had increased panic attacks and increased anxiety. With everything else going on in the world currently, there have been times I have been in a bit of a bad mood ( pissed at the whole world), and I have not been able to hide it when with friends. I want to share this story, not for pity, but to highlight the empathy some of my family and friends have shown me after the incident and the stranger who was present.
The following happened at the end of May 2021. It was a major incident this year but is not necessarily the leading cause of my anxiety issues. If you know me personally, you know I’m a very nervous person in general.
After a weekend in Toronto, my boyfriend and I went to pick something up from a family member’s apartment. Afterward, we were sitting in our car, looking on our phones for the nearest gas station. At this point, a man opened our rear passenger door and got in our car. When my boyfriend turned around, the man started aggressively saying, get out of the car. I got out immediately, and so did my boyfriend. The man proceeded to get in the front seat and drive away. I got out so quickly I left my phone in the car.
We were on the side of the road shaking in shock when multiple strangers came and asked what had happened and offered help. I was unable to contact my family member inside the building as I did not have my phone. A very kind man proceeded to call 911 for us and relay the information I gave him to the cops. This man stayed with us for almost 2 hours, making sure everything was ok.
The cops arrived shortly, and as I was grilled with questions about the car, I realized I had originally in my state of shock given the wrong license plate number. At this point, I had to call my parents; I had texted them from my boyfriend’s phone saying it was urgent and to call me but had not gotten a response.
As soon as I had to tell my mom what had happened, I broke down into tears. I had been shaking so much I hadn’t even really been able to cry. I still didn’t entirely feel safe, being in a big city I was not from, with no phone and no car. At this point, my boyfriend’s phone had no charge.
We were with the cops for almost 3 hours before it was deemed our car was unlikely to be found that evening. At this point, we returned to the apartment of my friend I had been staying with over the weekend in Toronto. I was basically still in shock. Initially, telling others what had happened felt like I was recounting a movie, not something that had happened to me.
Eventually, that evening I finally began to relax slightly.
That night we returned to my boyfriend’s family’s place in Waterloo. At this point, I had only the clothes on my back, and stores were closed for in-person shopping due to the restrictions. At this point, I had a breakdown, as it started to hit me just how much in terms of monetary value I had lost. In Waterloo that week, we spoke to multiple cops, and I also talked to our insurance company. At this point, our case was passed from the cops who spoke to us initially to the major crimes unit. The first few days, as I told some people close to me what had happened, the focal point to me was the car getting stolen, my boyfriend though pointed out my car was not stolen, myself and him were the victims of a carjacking. I started to feel like a victim, and this made me struggle more. I did not want to think about what had happened, but there were constant reminders.
I was trying my hardest to be ok, but I was struggling inside.
In terms of getting car jacked, we were lucky. Neither of us were hurt, and my boyfriend actually grabbed my bag that had my laptop and other valuables in it. The carjacker did not directly tell us he had a weapon, so we do not think he did. But, what I still get anxious about is that first minute when we had no idea what was happening, I genuinely thought there was a chance I was going to die.
In the first few weeks after this night, I struggled a bit to drive by myself. I wanted to be ok, so I tried to do it to show myself it was ok. A few weeks later, I had a panic attack in a FarmBoy parking lot when I saw someone walking next to my car in my side mirror. I had a second one at a stop sign a few weeks after. Four months later, I am still anxious when people are walking outside my car when I am stopped; this might never go away. That is partially why I want to share this story, as I have heard many people who experience major trauma often can a while after think they have completely recovered, seemingly randomly get triggered and upset. Some moments are hard to forget even if you try.
I am lucky I have a great support system around me and opportunities to speak with professionals. I am also thankful every day that neither myself nor my boyfriend were physically harmed that evening.
Two weeks ago, my car was actually found. The week after my car was found, I was frustrated, as my anxiety was getting better, and I had stopped thinking about what had happened. Multiple calls from the police made me anxious again. Unfortunately, on a day I was not feeling great, it was my last opportunity to see a good friend before she headed out of town for school. I really wanted to have a nice fun time, but I could not turn on the happiness that day. I apologized and am so grateful for how empathetic she was. Her acknowledgment that I had a tough year and was having a tough week really went a long way.
So I wanted to share this now, reminding anyone who reads this that it is important to think twice about what others have been through before getting upset they are not being happy. If you know someone who has shared with you that they have gone through something traumatic, try to have an open discussion about how they want to move forward. Only they know what is best for them to help them heal.
If you yourself have gone through something traumatic, remember you are not alone.