Seasonal Anxiety (Day 135, Year 3)

I think one of the most powerful things about trauma is that it has a seasonality much like tulips or lilacs. It comes back, year after year, without fail. Its blossoms depend on the conditions of the prior year--if the soil was right for division and growth, the trauma will be more vibrant. Sometimes, though, it is unpredictable and just flourishes or fails without reason. 

Today begins the season of my trauma, friends. Sixteen years ago tonight, I sat in the living room of my bungalow with my husband discussing our concerns over Lily's health and the strange, bladder infection diagnoses doled out by the pediatrician. We decided that the next day would be action. I remember saying, "It's like she cannot even hold herself up anymore."

Lily was 14 months old. She was so happy and already my best companion. The next day, as I blew raspberries on her belly in the CHOP Emergency Room, I saw their feet coming for us and I thought about running. Those feet brought the news of the brain tumor and the bags and bags of drug cocktails meant to minimize the build up of fluid in her brain. It was that fluid driving the hydrocephalus which led to all the symptoms--the vomiting, the fatigue and the lack of balance. 

She was just so happy, though, even though she must have had a terrible headache. 

Somehow, every year at this time, even if I do not look at the calendar, my trauma knows it is time. I am not entirely sure how it will emerge, but if the last few weeks were predictors, I'd say it might be a vibrant trauma season. 

My brain has been confusing anxious feelings for a few weeks. I've had two quiet, but paralyzing panic attacks before Lily's crew races. Sure, it is normal to be anxious when your daughter is racing down the river in a tiny boat. But, it is not normal to break out in a cold sweat, have intrusive fearful thoughts and be unable to be near other human beings. 

That level of anxiety seems only appropriate in true life and death situations--like when your baby is diagnosed with a brain tumor and you are waiting while she is in a 4 hour brain surgery, sitting there wondering when you became an adult because you felt like a child in charge of something you were not trained to handle. 

This year, I've been unable to separate and parse out the different anxieties and instead my default in all anxiety producing situations is to think about running, but there is no way to run from it because it is right, there, friends. 

I've ridden this out before, so I know I will be okay. And I also know it is not like a constant thing; but it is a slippery, sticky thing. It helps to write about it--right now just writing out the experience of then and now has already removed that heavy feeling from my body. I also made Lily cuddle with me for a moment and she told me I was acting weird, which you know, helped, in the way honesty sometimes does. 

But, if you pray, pray for me. I rarely ask; but I know I never ride out this season alone.