Narratives

It has come full circle again. The whole thing started with a search of narratives. Narratives that came before me. Hearing other women’s stories with pediatric cancer children to try and understand how they do it. I read their blogs and started my own to give what I had been given.

And today I again search for narratives. I am looking for stories of PTSD as I continue down my best known coping strategy, knowledge. The narratives are startling familiar. Unlike the first time, I know first hand these narratives. I feel I could write them. All striking real cords. Feeling less alone on this.

As one guy shared: “When I heard myself arguing a case in court, I would observe myself from a distance and wonder how this guy, who happened to look and talk like me, was able to make such a cogent argument.”

He too is not capable of feeling in body. I wonder if he is 3-10 feet away. Probably never farther. 

And then one sentence out of the many books I’m reading really stuck out at me.

“Many traumatized people seem to seek out experiences that would repel most of us. Many patients often complain about a vague sense of emptiness and boredom when they are not angry, under duress, or involved in some dangerous activity.” 

And that rings so true. I didn’t understand it, until I read it, but it’s true. I can name the times I’ve felt best these last weeks and they are FAST and FURIOUS. I found this piece of writing I never finished from when Steve and I stole away on the boat without kids. 

We went fast. Like 17.

Steve and I stole away and again we were flying. Like we were 17. Flying on that little boat where you felt at any moment you would be flung out into the water. No agenda, but speed.

And I liked it.

I felt whole.

I felt alive.

I was there.

And while many would scream. I felt at peace. I wasn’t driving. I wasn’t in control. Any turn could throw me off balance into that water, but I knew who was and where I was. It felt so good.

My body’s system is all off it turns out.

“Trauma produces actual physiological changes including a recalibration of the brain’s alarm system, an increase in stress hormone activity and alterations in the system that filters relevant information from irrelevant. We know that trauma compromises the brain area that communicates the physical, embodied feeling of being alive.”

That explains why I need massive simulation to feel alive. 

“In PTSD, the body’s stress hormones after the threat do not return back to baseline. Fight/Flight/freeze signals continue after the danger is over…Instead the continued secretion of stress hormones is expressed as agitation and panic, and in the long term wreaks havoc with their health.” 

And the long term health issues of having elevated trauma like stress hormones circulate in your body over years listed are numerous and scary. I need to get this under control. Beyond the life threatening diseases (which of course include cancer) it also ages you rapidly as research has shown that telomere shortening is more rapid under conditions of chronic stress. Stress can change our cells, making us age faster.

No amount of botox will fix that, but I’m sure I will try. 

So I start a new narrative that I hope will help others. I wonder if other cancer moms got this? Have yet to find that narrative. Maybe if they do they don’t write about it out of shame.

I get that.

This is harder for some reason. A harder narrative to share.

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