Ian suggested yesterday that it might be helpful for me to find someone who has actually been diagnosed with PTSD and see if some of the ways I feel occasionally could simply be symptoms of a psychological condition, brought about by living through extremely difficult times. It seems likely that I am dealing with a bit of this.
One of my doctors yesterday emailed to ask if I would be willing to talk to a patient who is about 16 months behind me in terms of disease and care (i.e. just diagnosed with breast cancer mets and about to start treatments), and of course I would be, but when I first read the letter a totally unexpected wave of vertigo passed over me and I was glad to be sitting down.
Also, I feel a bit like I can't stay still. In part, it really is simply the joy of being strong and healthy and able-bodied, but in part, I feel that, as long as I am in motion, I am safe. As long as I am producing, as long as I am exercising/cooking/creating/running errands/on the go, I am proving to myself that I'm not dying—that I am here to stay. But I need to keep going, to keep staying.
I knit a lot of caps for people, and this past year I've been sewing a lot of glitter bags—like, maybe 40 by now. And as I finish each one, I think okay, another person has something I've made. As with activity in general, I do enjoy sewing and knitting and creating. But I also recognize that, as long as I can do these things, I'm here, in this world, alive. And as long as I can give away these things that I've made, I'm here, in this world, in the hearts of people I know. Fatalistic? Definitely. Discomfiting? Undeniably. Reasonable? Definitely not. Understandable? Of course.
People who have lived through wars hear a car backfire down the block and dive for cover. I sit, hunched over a sewing machine for an hour guiding glitter vinyl with cramped hands, get a twinge in the muscle at the top of my head, and immediately have to convince myself it's not a tumor. Much of my day is spent in reassuring myself that all is as it should be, and that "as it should be" means I am well.
I have no reason, other than having lived through the last 16 months (added, I suppose, to the last ten years), to be worried about myself right now. But I am constantly in negotiations with myself, the one absolute exception being when I am on horseback. Then, I finally feel so completely, uncompromisingly alive that I no longer think about it. I just am.