Sometimes I am so out of touch with the “outside” world that it is amusing. I had not connected that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Today I have become an advocate and did not intend to be. The pink ribbons, the commercials, people mentioning Susan G. Komen, etc… I did not notice until yesterday. After realizing it, all of the images and words that went to the back of my head flashed in rapid fire and I literally said audibly, “Ohhhh.”
Then, thinking, “Well now all those things make sense.”
The week or so that I had to wait caused me to have moments of freaking out. I wondered if all these things appearing were a sign or something because “Breast Cancer” was popping up everywhere! I only half-heartedly thought it was a sign. I do not mean to sound harsh here, but really, there are too many “awareness months” for me. I cannot keep up. I try to stay out of them because no matter how great the causes there are people who will be negative and bicker. Yes, over autism, cancer, nutrition, I am sure people will troll or find something to argue about on “National Wear Red Day.” Therefore, I steer clear and keep my mind focused on other things. I do not have the energy to keep up with all of that.
I am not saying it is a bad thing to bring awareness.
It really does not matter; I am only trying to explain how I can be surrounded by information and still am completely unaware. I think it is a beneficial example to the rest of this post. If I can be that unaware with things blatantly in my face, one could understand how I miss social cues. This whole experience has been a good lesson for me. As I was waiting for my doctor’s appointments to come, I tried very hard not to spin in a negative direction. While at the same time, I was very analytical with myself and started to prepare for the worst. I did not feel that I had emotions attached to the pragmatic scenarios I had playing in my head.
However, I must have had them because I had a meltdown in the doctor’s office.
I tried to gauge my emotions based on other people’s responses toward me when I talked about going to my appointments. Based on how people in my physical world spoke and reacted toward me was how I determined if I was overreacting or not. I felt frightened and concerned, but also had everyone telling me that it was ok. No one else voiced a concern. They all said things like, “I have been through things like this, and it will be ok.” “I had a scare too, but I know everything will be alright.” They also went into other situations that they had gone through which made me feel as if my situation was menial.
I decided that anything I was feeling must be inappropriate for my circumstance.
I did feel at peace, but I also went through a huge struggle of feeling as if my emotions were irrational. These feelings were based on David not speaking about it and communicating his frustration and stress with work. Since, I had to leave for several days with Daniel’s evaluations and then, I was going to be gone most of another afternoon I felt that I was causing him stress. I also felt that his stress must be a higher priority than what I was feeling, therefore my feelings were irrational. David has explained to me that he was stressed, but his avoidance of the topic had to do with him not wanting to send me into senseless anxiety because he knows that he does that often.
He thought he was doing a good thing.
He was in a way because my brain can spiral from his information downloads. However, in the future it would be better if he told me why he was avoiding a topic. Especially, one such as this. When I do not know I tend to direct my thoughts on myself and feel that there is something wrong with me. I try not to do this, but it is very difficult. It becomes even more difficult when I have been exposed to several new and/or confusing social encounters, i.e. Daniel’s evaluations, receiving his psyche evaluation, planning the IEP conference call, my doctor appointments, trying to plan for Ariel’s pageant that is coming up in a few weeks. (I have not even shared about that one!) I have been confused about whether I am feeling stress or not. I have also been confused as to whether I should be feeling stress about everything going on.
All of the interactions caused me self-doubt.
I am currently at the point of having some confusion by social interactions such as communicating with the kid’s teachers. I am still processing the interaction with the OT; there was more that happened with her. Thankfully, through all of this I had the positive social experience with my family to help alleviate my confusion about their concern or feelings toward me. Honestly, I still struggle and feel unsure. I am also thankful that I had online support to help balance out my feelings as well. Although, I have been confused as to whether I am overreacting and did fall into similar patterns, I have been able to see my pattern. This enabled me to take charge of my thoughts. I decided to look it up to see if it is “normal” to have stress and fears about a cancer scare and other unknown medical issues.
To clarify, it is “normal” and it is ok. (That is for others and for “Future Angel.”)
I read this The Mammogram Experiment: How Emotions Can Affect High-Stakes Decision-Making and found it interesting. Personally, this situation would not deter me from getting my next mammogram, it makes me want to stay on top of the situation so I do not have go through the process of waiting. I hate waiting. Waiting can cause me some of the most irrational fears and anxiety. The only way that I can deal with waiting is to try to ignore it – I am good at that. Part of my anxiety was that I did not know what to expect. Those who went through it before did not share because they did not want to cause me anxiety.
Do you see a pattern here?
People seem to think by not talking to me or not telling me anything that they are helping me. They feel by not addressing the issues that they are comforting me. No, no, and NO! This does not help me. It makes everything worse because it leaves me to fill my mind with irrational thoughts. I begin to feel as if I do not matter and that I should be all right with everything. Not talking about something, or not expressing things leaves big gaping holes in my brainwaves that have got to be filled with something otherwise I loop until I become depressed, filled with panic, meltdown, or shutdown.
For any first timers with a mammogram I found this 10 Ways to Blast First-Time Mammogram Stress.
I should have looked it up before going, but I had so much going on that I did not think of it. Plus I was “ignoring” it. I will share more about what happened on that day in another post because I had an encounter with someone who caused me pain and confusion during junior high and high school. I had a meltdown that I desperately tried to stop, but could not. I had another scare while getting my mammogram. I was sensory bombarded ALL over my body! Then, I had guilt for not having anything wrong with me. I want to talk about that more in another post. In this post, I wanted to share because I have a feeling that others may understand or feel similar things as I have expressed here.
Part of the process of recovery and healing is to learn to validate your own emotions.
I still look to others words, actions, and responses to gauge what I should be feeling. There is a major default here; I do not know how to read people! My perceptions are distorted and influenced by years and years of feeling invalidated. Some of it is my lack of understanding with social situations, but there are also very distinctive examples in my life where my emotions, feelings, words, and me as a person has been made to feel invalid.
I am working through this.
What helped me the most and gave me the red flag to evaluate my thoughts were the validating words I did receive from people. It made this whole experience come out as a positive in many ways. People tend to forget the power of their words. For me, having several people validate my feelings and confirm that it was ok did help stop a spiral of negative thoughts. Many times that is all takes; I have seen this with Daniel, Ariel, and Joshua. When I let them know that it is perfectly fine to feel what they are feeling, they are more receptive and begin to communicate.
Some more resources:
(About stress) Why Didn’t I See It Coming?
Validation and Empowerment (This had good information about balance on the topic of emotional validation.)
“Emotional validation without empowerment is not true compassion but ineffectual pity, and empowerment without emotional validation makes clients feel that you’re not really “getting them,” you’re just telling them how they should feel.”