A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma.
Every year since 2013, August has been my trigger. There is no getting away from it. I’ve tried. I keep trying. Every week of this month has a day that I can’t escape from. Every one of those days plays back in my mind like a scene in a movie. A bad dream that I will never wake up from. The sounds, the smells, even the tone of the voices. It all comes back.
They say that one way to face your fears or anxiety is to talk about it. Verbalize it. Take the power away from it. That may work for some people but that hasn’t worked well for me. I’ve tried it. Every year.
Once in a while I try to bring up a memory early in the month: “Today’s the day I went to the Doctor, remember that?” The reaction is never consoling or understanding; its more like: “Why would you want to remember that?” or “Ugh I’d rather not” or worse…silence.
Believe me, nobody but me knows better what it was like living thru that month 5 yrs ago and every day since. Not that it’s all been shit, but what makes it all suck worse is when my trigger is made to be about someone else’s feelings. That just makes me want to throw things – at other people.
I have gotten better at having meltdowns alone -at night, in the dark, where it’s just me and my pup. I still do have those days, when the emotions from whatever memory that plays in my brain, creeps out. Those days I play the “I don’t feel good” card and keep to myself having as little interaction with anyone else as possible.
Then there are days like today. Today was my monthly check-up with my Oncologist and the dreaded Faslodex and Xgeva injections. Everything was fine – Until I pulled into the parking lot of the Cancer Center. My mind flashed back, just for a second, to my very first appointment. Before treatment even started. When I parked my car, I had to sit and wait until I was able to compose myself before I could go in. I couldn’t stop it. I tried. I was so pissed.
I get so angry at myself when it happens. I want to grab myself by the shoulders, shake myself and say:
“This is ridiculous. You should be on top of the world. You’re still alive after 5 yrs with this bitch. Stop it”
I wish it was that easy.
Simply put, August is 31 days of PTSD, Flash Backs, Panic Attacks, Anger, & Sadness, wrapped up in a blanket of Survivor Guilt. And it’s not over yet:
August 2013 Timeline
August 7 – Saw GP possible kidney infection
August 9 – No infection, Sent for CT
August 13 – Sent for MRI
August 16 – Told over phone “Cancer found in bones”
August 24 – DVT Blood Clot
August 28 – 7:30am PET/CT
August 28 – 5:30pm – The phone call that changed everything.
So, if you happen to see me on August 28th, the day I recognize as my 5 yr Cancerversary, no words are needed. Just raise a glass of whatever beverage you’re drinking that day and offer a toast to whatever additional time the universe feels I am worthy of.
Here’s hoping the universe continues to be extremely generous.