A Constant State of Fight or Flight

Last week we found out our first (fur)baby has cancer, and this morning he was dropped off at the vet for surgery to remove multiple tumors. I’m a mess. I don’t know why I feel so embarrassed to say that it’s making me so emotional. He’s been in our lives almost as long as the 10 years we’ve been married, and I can’t picture our family without him. I just want to have things go smoothly in life for 6 months. A whole year if I could dream big. Is that too much to ask? However I feel like I’m always having to deal with something emotional these days, and it’s exhausting.

I’ve found that since my Dad suddenly passed and I experienced the trauma of infertility I struggle with being in a constant state of fight or flight. It’s hard to appreciate the good times because I’ve had the idiomatic rug pulled from under me so often. I’m always waiting for the next call with terrible news, or something devastating to happen. My mind is always flooded with the “what ifs” and I immediately go to worst case scenario when something is potentially an issue. Instead of release and let go, I’m in a brace and be ready to duck state. What else will be taken from me? Odin’s diagnosis made me angry, as the idea of losing him with Thea so young was yet another reminder of how life did not go according to plan. He wasn’t supposed to pass away until she was 5 or 6. Why did it take us so long to get pregnant? They are best friends. How do I explain something like this to a preschooler? THIS IS NOT HOW IT WAS SUPPOSED TO GO. I can’t be mad at myself about all of these emotions, since it’s my body’s natural response to protect itself.

I miss my carefree self. But now that I’ve had so many moments that “only happen to other people” actually happen to me, I don’t know if she’s in there anymore. It’s not normal for people to lose their parent in their 20s, and I was pretty much worst case scenario going through my infertility journey. So much so that I was a minority within the minority. Did you know that almost 50% of people that go through infertility treatment meet the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis? That’s a rate 6 times higher than the general population. I didn’t either, and I honestly wish I had known that I’d struggle mentally and emotionally even after I became a mother. I wish I had known that it would seep into so many areas of my life, so that I could have prepared myself for moments like these much better. Today is a prime example of the trauma from my past experiences rearing it’s ugly head. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing myself to someone who witnessed a mass shooting, or participated in battle. That would be incredibly insensitive. However I do think it’s very important to recognize that there are many types of trauma. They can be physical and/or emotional, and they can be sudden or break us down over months and years like the repetition of small waves wearing away the earth.

Did you know that almost 50% of people that go through infertility treatment meet the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis? That’s a rate 6 times higher than the general population.

There are some positives to all of this. I’m a fierce protector of all that is important to me, and won’t go down without a fight. I don’t take things for granted anymore like I used to, and some of those little life moments are now what I hold so near and dear. I’ve learned how to love and incorporate memories of those I’ve lost into daily life. My perspective has dramatically shifted, and for the better. But there’s two sides to the coin of “living each day as it’s your last”. One is the positive of making sure you live your best life daily, and the other is being anxious as all hell because you never know when the hammer is going to drop.

So instead of worrying that people may view me as “dramatic” or not knowing what “real problems are” today I’m going to immerse myself in self care. It’s ok for me to feel this way. If anything, it’s actually normal for someone with my history. I should be proud of all of the progress I’ve made to live life the way I do most days. But today I’m going to sit here in my sweats and be emotional until I get the call that my sweet Odin boy made it through. I’m ready for him to come home and join the little family we worked so hard to create.

2 thoughts on “A Constant State of Fight or Flight

  1. I am so sorry. They are family😍. Remember Alice? She lived 6 years longer than diagnosed. She is now in our rose garden with the kitties. Hugs for you all.

    Liked by 1 person

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