Last night’s tragic events in Las Vegas plowed me over this morning when I heard of the horror of last night. It is good to have compassion for others and it is good to be appalled at this horrific event. It is not okay to spiral out of control over it. Gently and quickly had to find my way out of the blur.
When we are walking through chronic illness and we have past trauma, it magnifies current events. It is very hard to explain unless you have felt it.
After a lifetime of having Lyme Disease, I have had many experiences with this. When I experienced the intense pain of Lyme Disease I was by far the most sensitive to all events. Now that I have moved through the intense pain and am now in the healing stage, I can step back a bit more and work on trauma issues that make my head spin, my vision blur and make me a bit irrational.
I do not have television because of the drama that creates stress in my life. That means I am lacking in current events. I have chosen to set my email so I receive ONE top news story headline to read a day. That reduces my stress and gives me the bare minimum in one sentence.
This morning I opened my email like I do every morning. I saw the headline sentence talking about a massive shooting in Las Vegas last night. I gasped. I could not catch my breath. Panic overwhelmed me. One of my two dearest friends was on an extended business trip there, downtown where this event happened. The spiral started, panic set in, it felt like I was experiencing trauma.
In reality, I was sitting in my home, safe and sound. As far as my friend, I needed to quickly identify that I did not know her exact departure date from Las Vegas so there was a chance she was not even there.
To add to my feelings of trauma, I felt like I might be experiencing her past and current trauma. This is a friend of 20 years so I know her very well. About 10 years ago her son passed away while she was in Las Vegas, on a business trip. This was already a momentous occasion having her make this journey again. With the news of the massive shooting last night I could not breathe in fear for her well-being.
Ok, stop, breathe, evaluate, do not panic. I was able to identify that I had momentarily been plowed over by trauma that did not happen to me and might not have happened to her. As a Christian, I know better than to go down that road but as a human that is where I went.
I was able to start breathing again. My heart started to beat with a little more regularity. I located my “Way Out” navigation inside myself and used my head in a calmer manner.
Texting is a modern convenience that can solve many unknowns. I texted her, she responded. She had left Las Vegas Thursday night and this event happened Sunday night. She said it was two doors down from where she had been staying. She is fine. I still need to calm down. No trauma to me or to her. I will think and pray for the ones who experienced the trauma in real life when I can move past this.
I still need to calm down. No trauma to me or to her. I will think and pray for the ones who experienced the trauma in real life when I can move past this.
Are you seeing the inappropriate response? Those of you who have a chronic illness and past trauma will clearly get this. Things hit us, hit us hard.
We certainly do not want to live our lives on pins and needles but that is what it feels like. I am determined to find ways to calm that response and move through the past trauma in my life that has come crashing in on me during this health crash.
When that happened this morning, I was able to stand outside of myself and watch how I was reacting. I was able to be aware of my response and see if I could gain any control of how I was reacting.
I caught myself after the first couple moments and stood up from my chair and took a few steps to come out of the feeling of being paralyzed with fear. It worked.
Then great emotion came over me and I just sobbed for my friend, even though she was fine. I accepted the moment. Acceptance sometimes shortens the length of those moments.
Then it was time to get on with reality. Many people were killed and injured last night in Las Vegas in another senseless shooting. I chose not to find out many details because I did not want to get lost in the horror of it. Instead, I thought and prayed for the people who experienced the situation. That probably should have been my first response.
Chronic illness alone can make us hypersensitive. Adding past trauma cranks up that sensitivity. Current trauma, whether true or not, can send us off the charts. For me, this morning was an improvement. I was able to quickly find my way out of reacting to a trauma that was not even mine. With practice and patience with myself, I will move through this.
How are you doing with current events in your life of chronic illness?
Maribeth Baxter, MBEC
Donations are accepted to serve others on their chronic illness journey. Maribeth Baxter, MBEC provides voluntary certified health coaching services to the financially limited during their time of crisis.