Trigger warning for TMI, PTSD symptoms, and talk about lady parts.
It’s been a long winter. A fucking, long, hard winter.
Aside from the crappy weather, I’ve had super drama at work, and a near death experience.
Last week, the weather started brightening, snow started melting, and the temperatures started rising, ever so slightly. It was enchanting, and I started to feel a hope that with spring, my life would feel like it was getting back on track.
As a symbolic gesture, I decided to shave. My hair is rather fair, and I don’t have excessive amounts of it on my body, so it wasn’t a big deal. But I decided to shave everything. Every. Thing. I felt sleek and clean and lovely.
Then– and here comes the TMI part– while using the toilet at work, I happened to notice a black dot on my privacy. It was large enough to catch my eye, slightly raised. It was something I’d never noticed before. I’m pretty comfortable with my body. I’ve had two kids. If I had black dots on my lady bits, I think I would have noticed it before. (Um, yeah, you’re real comfortable with your body, using words like lady bits and privacy to describe your labia… whatever.)
I freaked the fuck out. I mean freaked.
Convinced I was dying of cancer, I did the next best thing and googled, black spot on labia. This freaked me out even more. I shut my office door and called my PCP’s office in tears, left a message, and started to shake and pace. I caught a co-worker walking down the hallway, someone I am really close to. I dragged her into my office and in hysterics, told her about my discovery.
She calmly advised me to call my doctor. She talked me down. We attempted to go back to work.
I called my husband who offered to give me an inspection later. I called him a creep, but it made me laugh a bit. He had had a mole on his back that they removed, and he had a rational perspective on how my health care professionals would address my situation. It didn’t help.
My doctor finally called back and offered to see me the next day. “Then we can decide if it is nothing, or if we need to send you to gynecology or dermatology, okay?” She seemed nonplussed.
“But do you think it’s cancer?” I shreiked.
“Um, I haven’t seen it, so I can’t make any guesses about what it is or isn’t. But you don’t need to freak out.”
“It looks like a mole!”
“Then it is probably a mole. But let’s take a look at it and we’ll go from there.”
Her calm reassured me somewhat, but I can’t quite explain what happened next. All of a sudden, I was back in my car, and there was snow crashing down on it. I could hear the thundering. I could see the glass of my windsheild shattering. I was breathless, lightheaded, my heart raced, and I was quite certain I was going to die.
I didn’t die. I had a flashback and a panic attack. It ended, and I was like, oh, well, guess maybe I wasn’t as “over” that stupid trauma as I thought I was.
That little black mole, or whatever it is, was what we in the biz call a trigger.
It called into question my sense of mortality, my fear of death, my terror of losing my life and all that is in it. This has been the residual fear and anxiety since being in that avalanche a couple weeks ago– the fragility of life.
Rationally, I know I am safe and okay. But in the aftermath of trauma, the brain is not always rational. Rationally, I know this because I am educated in trauma and treating trauma. But going through it myself is another story.