A feeling grows over you, nuzzling into the pit of your stomach that buzzes out to your limbs. It’s like you are standing at the edge of a cliff but there is no beautiful view, just worry so strong that it consumes you. Your blood feels thick as it boils through your veins, dragging its gloom to the surface of your skin, begging to get out. This is the feeling that takes over your brain, your gut, and your heart. It’s the aftershock of a traumatic event that creeps up on you, tapping you on the shoulder and pouring itself into your bones.
Post-Traumatic Medical Trauma is a name I thought of to put a title on a common feeling that many people with health issues can relate to. Health anxiety and depression from chronic illness are frequent concerns for many people.
Common struggles for people with chronic illness:
- Missing your previous, healthier life and adjusting to a change due to health issues
- Having to cancel on friends and family often or change plans because of health
- Feeling secluded and like no one understands you
- Financial issues due to lack of work or missing work from illness
- Feeling exhausted and having a hard time keeping up with minor tasks
- Not talking about how you feel or your feelings because you feel like a burden or too like you are being too negative
- Insurance issues, scheduling conflicts, and other general concerns
I often wonder why doctors don’t ask their patients how they are coping with their health issues. For some, they hide their anxiety or depression out of fear that their health issues will be dismissed and with anxiety. Why can’t therapy or counseling be offered or suggested after a life-changing surgery or health event?
For me personally, my traumatic health memories sometimes even follow me to bed and enter my dreams. Having a small health scare, like a few palpitations in a row, can trigger PTMT and put a damper on the rest of my day. Like a dark cloud following me around all day, I can’t help but think of moments when my heart almost gave up for good. My lips turned dusky as everything around me faded out. My heart was struggling and chaotic as if each beat could be the last. My limbs lie cold on the ground as I struggle to take tiny drops of air into my lungs. My life did not flash before my eyes but a sinking feeling of worry about my kids growing up without a mother and, how could I just meet the love of my life and be taken from this world from my family that I love so much?
It’s not fair.
I am not ready yet.
Every palpitation I get is a flashback of these moments. Some days are so beautiful and the sun shines, blanketing everything in gold. The air is perfect and I have everything the be grateful for but still, sometimes those moments tickle my neck because I am so scared to lose everything.
You are not alone.
Finding local or online support groups are helpful for finding answers and a tribe of others who understand what you have gone through or what you may be going through. Seeking therapy is also a beneficial way to learn how to cope and work through stress. You are not alone. Burying your feelings or sweeping them under the rug is not a way to get by. Dealing with your trauma is nothing to be ashamed of or ignore.