What Spills? #PTSD

  

I read an interesting article today about character. The article said, whatever is in your cup is what is going to spill out when life shakes you up. Although I agree with that statement initially, I believe overtime your cup can be shaken so much that eventually it is emptied. Once your cup is empty, what comes out of it is the despair of hopelessness. 

Just as a battered wife can be beaten down into submission by an abusive husband; so can a person be beaten down by the traumas of life. To say that one can continuously refill their cup and keep up with the abuse and trauma of life is simply not true. I speak from experience. I speak as one who has been abused, who has been traumatized by life multiple times in rapid succession. 

It feels like a you’re drowning victim. You’re in the pool. You’re going under. You know the water surface is right there but you just can’t get to it. You just can’t get up there to grab another breath of air. You just can’t keep yourself afloat. You know you’re going to die. You know this is your last breath, so you let go and you die.

There’s a thing called accumulative PTSD that hits victims who have experienced trauma after trauma. These victims simply cannot just refill their cup so they can easily handle what is going to be dealt to them each day. PTSD victims do good to simply take a breath each day. Trauma causes them to not be able to properly function. The body is now at a heightened alert, waiting for the next thing to hit. It’s waiting, protecting, guarding and doing everything that trauma has trained to it do simply because it knows something else is about hit. ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! DANGER! MUST PROTECT!
I’m just like that drowning victim finally giving up and almost letting myself die. When a hand reaches in and grabs me, pulls me to safety. We (especially PTSD victims) all need a hand to reach in, grab us and a pull us to safety. There are times when we cannot see how to help ourselves. There are times when we can see where we want to go but we just can’t get there. We need someone to come along beside us and pull us to safety, keep us from drowning and to show us how to take that next breath. 

Yes, my cup was once full. It was so full that when I got bumped into whatever was inside of it with spilled out. My cup is full of joy, and I’d get bumped into and joy with spill all over. Kindness, and kindness would spill all over. Compassion, and compassion would spill. Love, and love would spill. And so on it would spill until finally, the last drops spilled out and the cup cracked from so much bumping.

Today . . .

I am like the drowning victim who has been plucked out of the water. I’ve been laid on the shore. The water is being pushed out of my lungs and I’m gasping for air. My body is still on heightened alert. But I’m beginning to see that I’m safe. My eyes are open and I see where I have been. I am beginning to understand what I’ve been through. But I am not breathing on my own yet. I’ll be in ICU for many months as I learn how to live again. That is what PTSD does to its victims. 

My old cup is broken. I’ve been given a sippy cup. One with the long straw. Doesn’t have anything in it yet but soon it will be filled again with love, compassion, kindness, joy and other goodness. And this time the lid will hold the contents safely inside when it gets bumped. Life will go on. I’ll eventually remove the lid and a little will spill out. I can replace the lid if I need to. I may even get a breakable cup again someday. 

Thoughts for consideration: be the hand that reaches out and saves a life. There is help and healing for PTSD.

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Depression is NOT a Choice

Depression is not a choice. Do you hear me !!! Depression is not a choice.

You don’t just wake up one morning depressed. Depression creeps up on you slowly, little by little. It is mixed with highs that make you think you are ok. Highs that allow you to make others think you are ok. When reality is you are caught in a tornado that is spiraling out of control to the the point of no return. 

Depression pushes everyone away and isolates. Depression sets everything up for failure while you lie to yourself hoping and believing it will be ok. Depression is a slow killer worse than any cancer. There is no radiation, chemo or magic pill that will cure it. 
Depression is the one disease that is culturally unacceptable. That is why it is so hidden. That is why we are so shocked when friends kill themselves because of it. 
The question is what do we do when we find ourselves sunk into a depression?
I recently told one of my friends I was battling depression and the response I got was, to be exact, “well that’s your choice.” It has has only made me more depressed. Feel more alone. Be more isolated. 
Every moment I have to choose life. Every moment I have to choose to keep living. Every moment I have to choose to wake up. Every moment I have to choose to keep breathing. These are the real choices of of a depression. Depression is not a choice.

My Journey These Last Two Deadful Years

 

In 2010 I lost my husband to cancer. A few days before his passing I had a routine mammogram and the spots were discovered. Few days after his funeral I had a follow-up mammogram and ultrasound and it was concluded that the spots would just be observed. Two years later cancer developed. I wanted the bilateral mastectomy at that point but my surgeon at the time advised against it. With hindsight I should not have listen to him. He did not get clean margins the first time had to go back and do it a second time and had to take muscle. It was an extremely difficult recovery. I followed up with the radiologist and did 30 some odd rounds of radiation. The radiologist also had me begin the clinical trial. In the clinical trial they tested me for HER2, found I was positive +3, it was aggressive. Being in the trial made me very fearful so I withdrew with the knowledge my cancer was fed not my estrogen or progesterone at that time but by HER2.
I found my medical oncologist, who was referred by a friend when I requested a second opinion for my treatment plan. I like the medical oncologist and chose to make him my primary cancer doctor. He recommended I take tamoxifen for five years. But I had every reaction to that drug that you can have. He took me off that drug and gave me anastrozole. It’s only side effect was bone loss. I did develop osteopenia. As I do with everything I researched the drug and found it does target HER2. I took it for almost two years confident it was helping me. And I believe it did.
While visiting my daughter in Ohio earlier this year I discovered a suspicious area had developed again in my breast. I visited my oncologist once I return home. He assured me he was 99% sure it was nothing but we would do the diagnostic mammogram ultrasound just so that I would have peace of mind. However, after the mammogram the radiologist came in and told me I needed to have a biopsy. Plus there was suspicious spots identified in the other breast that they would again watch. Biopsy concluded I had cancer again, triple positive +3 this time. Oncologist recommended the mastectomy because the cancer I had would continue occur over and over and eventually develop somewhere else. This was my only option for survival. If it was invasive I would have to have chemotherapy, herceptin and I was dreading it. But would have done it. I want to live!
I found a different surgical team this time around.  After my bilateral surgery, the radiology report revealed the cancer was contained noninvasive and they got it all. As my oncologist said, I am cancer free. There is no where for the cancer to return because the breast were removed. And I don’t have to have any more treatment. I get to live. I call that a miracle!!!
I believe him because he had everything to gain financially by giving me treatment for the next five years. But he is honest and told me I do not need to have it or deal with the side effects. I respect his expertise in treating my cancer. It’s imperative you find a medical team that you trust.
I am now in the reconstructive phase. And looking forward to living a full complete life. Thankful for what I’ve learned. Looking forward to helping as many women as I can who are going through this nightmare.  Rejoicing I get to live!

Reality check!

Feelings 12/24/14

My assignment was to identify my feelings and journal about them.
Soooo
Right now I regret ever moving to Ohio. I regret ever disconnecting with my family in Texas. I regret many of the early choices I made.
Why did I make them? Desperation. Trying to survive instead of live. Maybe I’ve come back here and I’m in that mode of life again.
I just wish I knew where I am suppose to be because I’d be there doing whatever it is that I’m suppose to be doing.
I moved to Ohio running from my step dad. I stayed in Ohio because I got married and had a family. I never belonged there. 
I feel like ministry was a waste. I was doing it out of a call but also to build my future. Everything I did was to build a future. I was looking ahead hoping. I was sowing into what I thought was not only my eternal future but also my earthly future. I was trying to build relationships that would stand the test of time. But I was just the minister. I was just the one they called on in time of need.
I did live a guarded life careful not to get too emotionally attached simply because I had to be strong through crisis. I had to be there for the families that needed emotional support. Didn’t mean I didn’t love. Didn’t mean I didn’t care. Didn’t mean I didn’t hurt. It was just a conditioning we had in order to be present when needed.
And now I find my conditioning doesn’t work on myself! I feel every aspect of the hurt. I feel every aspect of the pain. I feel it all and now I don’t know what to do with it.
I wonder if all the years of being strong for others is crashing in on me? I wonder if that is why I am not able to cope well? 
4-13-2015
Reality check!
Regret?! Really?! No way 
In reality things should have been the same or worst if I’d stayed in Texas instead of moving away and making a life for myself. The only difference . . . Well, I may not have survived back then. I was on a course of destruction, self destruction and I would have succeeded. It is a very good thing I moved away and was able to get the help I needed during that season of life. 
I don’t regret leaving. I don’t regret coming back. It has helped me to understand this is not particularly where I should be. Right now I’m not exactly sure where that is but I do know it is not here. But this has been a divine stop in my journey of life. I needed this stop. I needed these people in my life. I thought I needed my family but but God places the people in our lives that He wants to be our family during the times that they are assigned. 
I see I am beginning to heal, not only physically from the cancer but also emotionally and spiritually. I know I’m not there yet but I will get there. I’m going to be ok. I’m going to be even better than ok. I know I will be.

Melody of the Windchime

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I woke to the random strikes of my Windchime being tussled around in the cold wind. As the wind picks up the chime strikes louder creating an odd melody that if words were added to it would be quite a dramatic tune.

My late husband and I purchased this chime while visiting Ohio Amish country on our 20th anniversary almost 10 years ago. At the time I thought it had a nice ring to it. It hung on my front porch for many years. But if I recall correctly I looped the wind catcher up on the top piece disabling it from the endless chimes created by the Ohio winters winds.

The family I’m staying with while having cancer treatments have a chime in the backyard with a beautiful pitch that creates a wonderful melody. The tubes are larger in length and diameter; the clapper is positioned correctly within the tubing to create a soothing, meditative tune rather than a noise to scare birds and other animals away.

Wind chimes have always brought soothing tones echoing the music of the breeze and bringing a relaxed, positive, healing, meditative feeling. I remember walking in the evening listening to the various chimes in the distance. They created a place of peace and balance captured in song as I walked along. If I stop and allow sound over take me it can ease stress, improve focus, wash away anger, and soothe the soul … even right now in the middle of this Texas winter storm.

Beauty

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I remember when my babies were in diapers. It seems that they were in diapers for eternity. My late husband used to say he couldn’t wait until he didn’t have to buy diapers anymore.

Then came prostate cancer. It seemed as soon as we stopped buying baby diapers we had to begin buying adult diapers.

This morning I’m reminded of that comment he made. We battled cancer for 17 long horrendous years. I hated that my husband died of cancer. I hate it when he drew his last breath. But I must admit I was so thankful to not be battling cancer anymore. I’ve not yet hit the five-year mark from the day he died that dreadful day. And I sit here battling my own cancer for 3 months now.

My beauty was attacked, my breast. Well I am still beautiful. I am still desirable and someday I will be remarried; have no idea who to. . . AND I will make my future husband the happiest man in the world because THAT is who and what I am. And I get to rebuild my breast even more beautifully prefect than before.

Cancer you suck! But I have a hope and a future! I will LIVE AND NOT DIE!!!

Me and The Ant

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I saw a little ant today crawling around on a rock and my first instant was to squish it. I was reminded of my own life how I am going about my business when suddenly, unexpectedly I feel like I am being squished. Like the ant I didn’t see it coming. I did not see the giant finger that sought to take my life. And like the ant, it took more than one attempt before the life was squished out of me. I try to looking for the ant that I tried so hard to squish and it is not to be found. It must have lived and crawled away. Will it survive? I don’t know. They are resilient creatures, quite amazing in many ways.

Of course you have watched an ant about its business forging for food, protecting its hill! Amazing in many ways. So small but so tuff. They have remarkable strength. I wonder if the ant ever gets overwhelmed. I wonder if the ant ever gets sick except when I spray them with ant killer! I wonder if the ant ever needs another ant to hug, to smile at, to talk to… Amazing!