Monday, August 29, 2011


I have been pondering the differing levels of resiliency in humans over the past couple of days.  What exactly is it that makes some people resilient, taking their problems, issues, traumas into stride, dealing with them and moving on?  What makes some people cast themselves repeatedly in the victim role, wallowing in similar traumas and life events?  Why do some people develop post-traumatic stress syndrome, while others having experienced the same things are able to move on?  Why?  What character traits allow this resiliency?  Some people develop very serious addiction issues when faced with trauma as children, others go on to be fabulously successful, great at everything they do.  This fascinates me.  I have a difficult time with the ones who cast themselves as victims.  I know that's judgemental of me, and I don't mean to offend anyone.  And I realize that probably a result of my upbringing.  I differ from the ideas of the previous generation in that I strongly advocate for getting counselling and dealing with your problems.  I do not advocate the "sweep it under the carpet and don't ever speak of it" school of thought.  Having said that, I must emphasize--counselling from a qualified professional, not yammering the ear off of anyone/everyone that will listen.  That is not the same thing.

And also I question--why are some events that have the potential to be traumatic relatively small to some, and yet monumental to others?  How can we even begin to compare what is truly a tragedy with some things that in perspective, are just minor annoyances?  It would seem to me that  the resilient don't make trivial events huge, but the self-pitying ones make every small thing a mountain.  Again this is merely my own observation, and not intended to insult or to hurt feelings.  I am not directing this post at anyone in particular, just reflecting because of some conversations/events of the past year.  

In my own life, I have been resilient.  I have dealt with a cancer diagnosis while parenting very young children.  I dealt with it and moved on.  I have dealt with infant loss, and moved on.  Both were extremely painful and stressful.  And I still have moments that I feel it was unfair, I didn't ask for it, I didn't deserve to go through those things.  But my guess is that even those that know me personally may not have known that those life-altering events had happened in my life.  I haven't swept them under the rug, but I have dealt with them as best I can, and I don't feel the need to dwell on them or burden others with them.  I only share with those close to me.  (and I guess now it's in the world, open to anyone who cares to read my blog...but sometimes it's easier to tell those you don't know than those who are close...anyway, it's out there now)

At the same time, I have never moved on from other painful events and feelings in my life.  Nothing of that magnitude.  But painful nonetheless.  And because I can't get past them, I do have some problems and if I'm brutally honest, an addiction that I have used to dull the pain.  No, I'm not secretly smoking crystal meth or drinking huge quantities of Jack Daniels behind closed doors.  My addiction is to food, specifically sweet foods.  There is a chemical reason for it--sugar boosts serotonin production in the brain, the feel good hormone.  Knowing that and being able to act on it are 2 very different things.  I know with my head that I should take my own advice and get counselling, but I don't feel ready to bring all of the pain to the surface.  And I'm not brave enough to confront those who have caused me the pain.  

But I do have an appointment with my ND today, and I'm going to talk to her about adding in a supplement that will help to blunt the sugar cravings that my body has, because it needs more serotonin.  And about some other hormone type stuff that isn't quite right.  And on the plus side, I benefit greatly from the endorphins that are released by running, and the other feel good hormones that yoga causes to be created and available to my brain.  Yay, running and yoga!  I actually just read that yoga increases GABA production in the body.  Yep, the same GABA that is an essential amino acid and neurotransmitter that helps to decrease anxiety and helps me to sleep.  The one that I should be getting a commission for recommending to anyone who will listen! 

This is a rather deep post compared to my usual more banal, attempts at humour.  It's not meant to be a complete downer to people reading it, but my working through some stuff in my mind.  As I've said before, inside my mind can be a scary place.

To all those who are dealing with traumas, of either past or present, my thoughts are with you.  I wish everyone the resiliency to deal with what life hands them.


cargillwitch said...

I think this is your best post thus far. Honest and direct. I like it.
I can mirror alot of what you perceive as shortcomings ( most noteably my love of all things sweet!!). I think alot of these issues either come to a hormonal induced swell at this age or we just get too damned tired to pretend they aren't problems anymore. Congrats on dealing with them head-on!
I have to admit I knew nothing of your cancer diagnosis. I am very sorry to hear of it, but you seem to feel you have integrated the experience in a positive way. A very rare thing!

Nicole said...

Thanks Mary Lynn. I was very lucky and my cancer was caught in very early stages. The worst part was the waiting to see just how much treatment would be needed, and thinking about my little kidlets. I really wasn't scared for myself, but for my children. I go for regular check-ups, and it's been 8 years cancer-free. It definitely made me more aware of my many blessings and changed how I view life in general.

After posting I got kind of queasy having put it out there. But I can't be authentic and credible without being truly honest!

I'm trying to meet my problems head-on, and some days are so much better than others. Some days I'd like to be an ostrich :)