What I shared on Facebook on Tuesday 18th May 2021 as my Cancer Journal Number 6.
These cancer journals were my ongoing strategy of keeping people up to date without having to share the same information again and again. I would write, and then I would get specific friends to act as beta readers, and that was helpful. Then I would post to Facebook, send the same message by email, What’s App, SMS, etc. It saved a lot of emotional energy for me, and that was becoming vital.
⭐ Cancer Journal ⭐
Tuesday 18th May 2021 (6)
Cancer Journal 6 Panic
Let’s talk about PANIC.
Full disclosure, I do not have an anxiety disorder, nor do I have any history of anxiety or panic attacks.
Trigger warning ⚠️ discussion of anxiety and panic
If you do have an anxiety disorder or experience panic attacks, this may not be the post for you, if you find such things triggering.
I will also preface this to say that two GPs, my cancer specialist, and the psychologist all have advised me that this is very normal for my current situation and experience and that my management strategies are sound, and that all additional supports are firmly in place. They all pointed out that my work environment is also high stress and the psychologist asked me to think about cumulative trauma contributing to my stress levels right now.
Gentle creatures, for those that don’t know, I am a polytheist. This means that in my worldview, there are many, many, Deities and other entities, all distinctly individual.
I have never known Pan in the more idyllic sense; my first-hand experience of Pan has been directly through what I have come to regard as one of His Sacred Gifts: the ability to inspire or to calm terror (panic).
In my work role, I work to calm terror all the time – for every person in crisis, there is fear and usually panic. I see my work to calm that as being a devotional act – and the fact that I usually can calm people as a sign of acceptance of that devotional act.
In my current experience, I am drawing on that devotional relationship with Pan, because Brian, my lizard brain, regularly just freaks out.
I accept the moment as it happens, and I acknowledge Pan in all His aspects.
My brain freezes, I feel like I can’t breathe, like my chest is constricted, and like my vision suddenly is altered.
I have acknowledged this to my wellness team as a purely physiological response of sheer, unmitigated terror.
I breathe through it and slowly return to myself and give thanks.
Gratitude doesn’t have to be about the happy happy joy stuff, it can absolutely be about the oh thank fuck I’m not actually dying stuff.
The ability to inspire terror and the ability to calm panic.
As I said, I see it as a Sacred Gift.
And this is my lived experience right now. It happens in an instant – after the phone call on Saturday telling me there was a third lesion, getting ready for appointments (which is why it is great to have a driver!), or when I am pushed or pressured in some way – especially if it is suddenly; an unexpected phone call, someone trying to tell me what I should be doing, someone not listening when I am trying to explain something, any kind of startle or shock.
Sometimes, like Saturday, it is big enough to trigger an amygdala hijack or flood, and it takes me 24 hours to regulate again; and that is just a biochemical fact: that is how long it takes to flush clear the chemicals that flood your brain when there is an amygdala hijack.
Sometimes, and this is pretty much what I have been experiencing in the week post-lesion recognition, it is just moments constantly throughout the day: fleeting but multiple.
Gentle creatures, it is *exhausting*.
And my memory, concentration, and focus are *shot*.
My immediate support network is being very tolerant of the fact that sometimes I tell them things more than once because I forget. Or… I just don’t tell them at all, and then get a bit confused when they aren’t up to speed on something.
My wellness team reassure me that it is perfectly normal at this point of my experience where there are still so many unknowns.
I think I have fresh, raw, and humbling insight into what people who live with panic attacks and anxiety conditions deal with all the time.
And I can tell you, it is *extraordinary*. So, Gentle Creatures, if you or a Beloved experiences this: *respect*.
📍 I have pinned the post with the announcement about my diagnosis and the boundaries I want to work with, so if this post is the first you have seen, please refer to that pinned post.
⭐ This is the sixth of my Cancer Journal entries, if you are interested in the others, look for the stars and the title at the top.
🌹 Be kind, Gentle Creatures, tend your gardens, take time to eat the roses, and walk your boundaries.
❗ Check your breasts, check your testicles.
Ensure that you are vigilant around your self-examination. Train yourself to check your breasts/testicles routinely, and monitor your bowel habits and your urine output. These are our body’s early warning signs, and we don’t have a lot of awareness of them.
Related blog posts
- Monday 17th May 2021 Arranging the biopsy
- Saturday 15th May 2021 (Cancer Journal 5)
- Wednesday 12th May 2021 (Cancer Journal 4)
- Friday 07th May 2021 (Cancer Journal 3)
- Cancer surgeon
- Sunday, 02nd May 2021 (Cancer Journal 2)
- Saturday May 01st 2021 ( Cancer Journal 1)
- Facebook post
- How to tell people you have cancer.
- Deciding strategies
- The Camus Question of Choice
- The Follow-up Tests
- The phone call.
- Check your breasts
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