Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Whomp whomp

It's been almost two months of being in pain.  I'm not sure how long I've been using the wheelchair, but I'm like over it.  For real.  I've known this whole time that my mental state was slipping.  I told friends that I felt like I was losing it a little bit, but it never really seemed that serious.
But for the last week or two I've felt like I was always 5 minutes away from the worst car wreck of my life.  Panic, I think it's called.  Yes, that's it.  Panic. 
I had dinner with the my cancer support group, and everyone started to talk about PTSD. 

So here's the run-down according to http://depressiond.org/ptsd-symptoms/:

The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following were present:
(1) The person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others
(2) The person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.

Um, yes.

B. The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in one (or more) of the following ways:
(1) Recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions
(3) Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring 
Number 3 is a big one.  I've literally told people that I feel like I'm watching myself go through cancer treatment again, but in slow motion this time.  I'm more able to think about what kind of a patient I want to be, and how I want to approach the pain. 

(4) Intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event
(5) Physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event
Can you say panic attack outside of the MRI office?

C. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by three (or more) of the following:
(1) Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma
See avoidance, below :)

(2) Efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma
(3) Inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma
I don't know if #3 fits or not.  I just know there's lots of moments from when I was on Interferon that I don't remember.  But I don't think any of it is especially important.  

(5) Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others
D. Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma), as indicated by two (or more) of the following:
 (1) Difficulty falling or staying asleep....We're talking about me, people. I can sleep standing up. lol
 E. Duration of the disturbance (symptoms in Criteria B, C, and D) is more than 1 month.
 F. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning

So, I don't know.  According to this website, I don't have PTSD.  But I do have some of the symptoms, and I have been having serious panic attacks, especially when I have time on my hands to think.  I've slowly been getting worse.  The sit-down talk of the night was: you're not realizing this is temporary, you're acting like you've been dx'ed with cancer again, you have like these crazy emotional walls up, and you've exhausted all your means of escape.  Ugh again.  

But I just gotta use my tools:
1. meditation
2. positive thinking
3. affirmations
4. therapy
5. possible medication
6. physical therapy or whatever it's going to take to stop this blasted pain
7. being mindful
8. expressing gratitude
9. staying connected to peeps 
10. telling myself I'm worthy of help, and asking for help when I need it; also not feeling "wrong" or "bad" when I receive help 

If I do those things, I'll be fine.  It's hard, because I doubt it when I say it, but I'm going to get through this.  This is temporary.  

Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings:
Talk about avoidance.  My latest has been fantasizing about moving away, alone of course, and finding a tiny apartment in a town where no one knows me.  I'll move somewhere cold, where it snows every winter, and I can bundle up and look out across the clean, white streets.  Some where so far away that I can have nothing wrong with me.  No doctors, no appointments.  I can be anybody.  I can be the shy loner girl.  I'll lose 50 pounds and smoke cigarettes and be mysterious and quiet and everyone will wonder what my story is.  But best of all, out of all the wonderful parts of this story, the part I love the most is that none of the people I love here have to watch me go through this.  I'll be two thousand miles away. I won't have to feel guilty for every extra minuscule effort they have to put forth to in some way help me.  I won't have to doubt every moment that I'm not making myself somehow invisible.  

It's gut wrenching.  It's gut wrenching because not only is it the perfect little fantasy complete with snow and a shy loner, but I don't even really want that.  I just want this.  I want my life the way it was 3 months ago.  I want to feel safe in my skin.  I want to stop crying when I realize I'm alone and there's no one to distract me. 
And, dammit, I will.  SOON.  Or someone is going to pay.  hahaha


1 comment:

B. said...

As a fellow panic sufferer I know exactly what you mean. When you're in that state it is hard to see an end to it. Your list of coping strategies is almost an exact copy of mine and they don't always work and even when they do it is rarely 100%.

When I am panicky I try to use it as an incentive to stay mindful and meditate more. I take meds to make sure I sleep and any time I'm just too tired of coping with the anxiety. In the long run, though, we all just have to make the best of what is available here and now. Wish I could offer you more consolation.

Good luck, MM: we're all radiating warm, comforting feelings for you out here.


I'm Too Young For This!