Friday, November 11, 2016

NO BETTER DAY THAN TODAY TO TALK ABOUT PTSD

Today I realize, cancer causes plenty of issues well beyond the fallout of the treatment side effects. I have come to learn that PTSD is definitely one of them.

Today, I would like to pause to remember all of those who have served to protect our freedom and today, I would like to acknowledge the suffering of those whose lived are affected by PTSD.

All too often, the result of a traumatic situation is post traumatic stress. While this is about the stresses of life and coping after cancer, about possible short circuiting in my brain, in 2013, I wrote this in response to something that was a source of even more trauma.
From 2013, for those who may be struggling today, I'm by your side. I'm in a bit of a struggle, too. I will say, I've somehow managed to come far. The stress in my life is back at 2013 levels but I will say, I am dealing with it far better today than I was three years ago. That means I've learned and listened and grown.

I hope, to those who are struggling in this moment and can't see beyond the moment, can read this and feel a bit of support.

Previously posted 2013:

I pride myself on trying to be objective.  I will listen to others.  Everyone gets the benefit of the doubt.  It's the way I choose to live my life.  Because I know this intellectually, this may be one of the most difficult things to share.

I am on an emotional collision course and I can't, not matter how hard I've tried, slow this train down and put it back on the right track.

A few weeks ago, I said something about "impulse control" in an string of email messages when it dawned on me, "this is not a joke."  I began to do some serious soul searching.  This is not to say I haven't always been able to hold my own in an argument.  Yes, I have that hot blooded Italian temperament.

I do love the sound of glass hitting a tile floor.  It stops everything and the act of cleaning up the glass is therapeutic.  I know.  Weird.  It doesn't happen often, that glass breaking stuff, and when it does, I have the presence of mind to toss a cheap water glass.  When I run low on glasses, I make sure the next set is even cheaper.  To put it in perspective, the deliberate breaking of glass only happens maybe twice a year.

Impulse control?  More accurately, a lack of impulse control, a daily occurrence.  Just like the realization that the work piling up around me was not due to an increase in my work load but rather, my inability to keep up at the same level I could before cancer fallout, I have taken a personal inventory.

I know I am my own worst enemy.  I know, too, on every level that allowing myself to be distracted from one task to the next without completing a single thing is, at its core, a loss of control over my concentration.  I give in to the distractions. I act on impulse.  I don't think.

The only one being stressed out or damaged by this lack of discipline or impulse control or however I want to frame the language, is me.  My work, my obligations, my bills, my exercise time, my writing time, my appointments when I'm rushing out the door because I could not force myself to move ten minutes sooner.... it has only affected me.

Until now.  I've become intolerant and I know it's me.  I was never intolerant.  Fly off the handle?  Sure.  But intolerant of any and every little thing?  That's not me.  And yet, suddenly, or perhaps gradually and now it has gotten so bad, it IS ME.

I'm on a path of destruction and it's no longer self-destruction.  I've lost my patience with everyone.  No matter what those closest to me try to do, no matter how much I appreciate what is being done for my benefit, my happiness, my comfort, my enjoyment, I can go from zero to sixty in a millisecond.  Over nothing.  Literally.  Nothing.

I have no idea what to do to remedy this mess.  I practice yoga, I exercise, I meditate, I get 7-8 hours of sleep each night (yes, even on those nights when I'm on west coast time), I do my best to maintain a decent diet.  I have medication to use as needed and professionals to turn to for guidance.  But none of this helps one iota when I lose control.

I hear myself in my head.

"Stop."

"Breathe."

"Overreaction."

"Inappropriate response."

"Irrational."

And.  I Do It Anyway.

I wish I could convey how much this is hurting me.  I'm floating above myself looking down as I behave in ways I don't recognize.  At the expense of others.  I defend my actions with a self-righteous attitude.  As if I have good reasons for acting in ways that are so hurtful and so harmful.

I apologize.

And within 72 hours, another eruption.

They are happening more frequently.  The triggers are stupid.  Sometimes there is no trigger at all.  It's just me, being a bitch.  For no reason.

I don't like this person one bit.

Is it anxiety?  Depression?  Fear?  PTSD?  Damage to my brain which, of course, I researched before I began typing.  Except for depression, my guess is that it's a combination of all of the above.

What I fear most?  I have taken every possible step to address anxiety, fear and PTSD.

That leaves me with one last possibility.  I hope that recognition of the problem, if indeed it is something that has short circuited, will enable me to change what I have come to despise.

Acceptance that I can't change what may have happened to my brain will, I hope, enable me to take back the reigns and regain control.  The act of recognition and acceptance is where I am going to try my very best to focus my energy.  I simply must learn to stay at least a half a step ahead of my destructive acts of impulsivity.

Frankly, my behavior is, and has been for quite some time, unacceptable.  Behaviors can be relearned or unlearned or adjusted.  I'll simply have to find a different part of my brain to use.  And I will.  There's no other option.

Like I've already said, breast cancer is not the great success story it's hyped up to be.  It's simply the one that's been marketed the best.  And the marketing tactics have hidden much and done quite a disservice to those who struggle with things every single day, on one level or another.  Yes, there are far worse levels, but I'm not fond of the levels I've reached in recent months.

Cancer has already stolen so much.  It's not going to steal my soul, too.



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4 comments:

  1. You have PTSD.
    Your loved ones asking, “How are you?”
    Chemo-Brain, neuropathy and no energy.
    Rage races across your mind.
    Hmm, let’s see I had poison running thru my body.
    My mind is a wreck.
    The anxiety medicines made me drool on my shirt.
    Chemotherapy, radiation along with surgeries has ravaged your life and there is no one to take your rage upon, it is yours alone.
    Just accept it.
    By the way, your loved ones have confirmed you are crazy.
    Accept their love and forgiveness it will heal you.
    Every day you wake up do not waste them you are on borrowed time.
    Cancer survivor since 2006

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    Replies
    1. <3 I hear you, I feel exactly how you feel. You have spoken for and on behalf of me with your words. Thank You... I mean that. xo ~AnneMarie

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  2. THANK YOU for putting this "out here". At least I do not feel so alone now.

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