Sara Evans is opening up about getting hit by a car at the age of eight.

In her new memoir Born To Fly, exclusively previewed in this week’s issue of People, the country singer writes candidly about her near-death experience.

On June 29, 1979, Evans was crossing the highway to get the mail by her family’s farm when she was struck by a car. The singer suffered a severe concussion and was unconscious for almost two days before finally waking up.

“The last thing I remember was a flash of blue,” Evans writes.”I woke up in a cold room and then came the pain. I was terrified. Both of my legs were in casts.”

“My mom told me that when the car struck me, I landed 80 feet off the road,” she continues. “When they found me, I was curled up in a ball with my left leg mangled and twisted and almost severed in two. They all thought I was dead.”

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Evans explains after being rushed to the hospital, doctors told her mom they needed to put pins her left leg immediately but couldn’t put her under anesthesia due to the severe concussion.

“They would numb my leg and use a hand drill to get the pin into my knee. I remember the nurses holding me down,” she details. “Every time Dr. Breedlove brought the drill close, I cried out, ‘Wait!’ Imagine someone drilling into your leg while you’re wide awake. Dr. Breedlove finally just told the nurses to hold me down so he could get it over with.”

“For six agonizing weeks, I remained in that hospital bed,” Evans continues. “I’d have a sudden, overwhelming feeling of pain and panic consuming me. ‘I want out of this!’ I’d scream, thrashing around till someone held me down and calmed me. I felt like I was being buried alive.”

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This was the start of the “Born To Fly” singer’s anxiety, PTSD, and claustrophobia, though she was unaware of it at the time.

“I had severe PTSD and anxiety, but it was the ’80s and I didn’t have a name for it,” Evans explains to People. “I don’t think my mother even thought, like, Maybe I should take her to therapy. I thought I could handle it because I’m tough.”

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Happy Birthday Mommy! Love you so much!

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The singer eventually “succumbed to extreme anxiety” in 2005 in the midst of marital issues with her ex-husband Craig Schelske. While on her way back to her tour bus in Pennsylvania, Evans had a panic attack, writing in her memoir, “I couldn’t get a grasp on who I was.”

“It’s a feeling I’ve struggled with my whole life anytime I am stressed,” she continues. “I think it’s PTSD from my car accident. I have this feeling of Who am I? It tends to creep up on me after I’ve had to do a lot of interviews and be on and play the part of ‘Sara Evans’. I don’t even like writing about it because I am so afraid of having this feeling.”

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Shortly after, the singer saw a doctor in Nashville who prescribed her an anti-anxiety medication, which, she says, “saved” her life.

“It calmed me down,” she continues. “Taking it also made me realize you’re not going to be this way forever. I always tell my kids, ‘The toll that anxiety takes on your body and on your mind, I think, is so much worse than if you have to take [medication] to calm down.'”

For more on Evans’ struggles with anxiety, fans can read the full story in People‘s latest issue, on newsstands Friday.

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2020 ACM Award Performers