FROM REMISSION TO SELF DEFINITION
HOW TO LIVE WITH POSTTRAUMATIC GROWTH DISORDER
Sitting with my cancer psychologist in the therapy room which was extremely clinical with one plant pot and a water fountain, I remember thinking to myself if this lady grins and stares at me any harder her face is going to crack!
In a gentle angelic voice, this frail looking lady said ‘’Whatever we discuss today will remain between us and the four walls.’’
‘’Ok wonderful’’ I replied, that felt slightly reassuring although, in these situations, I always think they probe to get information out of you which always seems so unnatural, so I proceeded to tell her my life history and did all the talking to save her the extra work.
The lady sat in silence and reached a tissue from the box on her desk and apologised but she needed to take a moment. I asked her if she was ok and she replied, “yes I am fine and will be with you in a few moments.’’
So, there I sat with my legs crossed, twiddling my fingers and toes anxiously wondering why as a psychiatrist you would start crying in from of your client. I then started to panic and was worrying if she was going to deliver some more unpleasant news and that is why she is upset…….My head was spinning around with all these thoughts then she took a deep breath and said ‘’Donia you are very clearly suffering from ‘’Posttraumatic growth disorder.’’
‘’Posttraumatic growth disorder’’ I replied and burst out laughing which was rather insensitive on my part considering the therapist had just been in tears.
‘’Are you sure you don’t mean post-traumatic stress disorder? Can you kindly elaborate further please as I am a little unsure what you mean Doctor’’ I replied?
“Yes of course’’ replied the psychologist’’ Only a minority of the population experience this and it is a positive personality change following traumatic life events. With the life events you have been through, it is prevalent to develop post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental health difficulties, but thankfully for you, it has excelled in the other direction.
‘’Ok great well that sounds positive ‘’ I replied and to know I wasn’t losing my mind from a professional was somewhat comforting.
The words Posttraumatic growth disorder ingrained into me, and since then I have just been on an upward spiral, and I have learnt along my journey to say YES to myself without hesitations. I launched Tiny Angels Press Ltd which is very close to my heart and never in a million years did I think prior cancer diagnosis, I would be starting my very own publishing house. The right people and the right solutions presented themselves to me to fulfil my desire to help other cancer patients to enter a new reality.
Tiny Angels Press and the book series I am currently working on, is not just another book but an entirely new social concept.
I found that once I left the hospital bed and was given the all clear precisely a year from diagnosis, there are no programmes available to enrol once patients are in remission.
I remember my cancer specialist nurse said to me that you would probably feel low once all your active treatment ends and with this in mind, I had ammunition to find other ways to naturally bring myself up and not allow myself to go down. So, I dreamt BIG, and my attitude became well if I can beat cancer and come so close to death, I can pretty much accomplish most things in life now.
Since my diagnosis, I certainly feel more compassion towards others, and I want to give everyone an opportunity to fulfil their dreams.
Storytelling to me is medicine and gives you a purpose, and I firmly believe people affected by cancer deserve a better chance to define the selves by contributors in society – not victims.
For me, all my femininity was stripped including the opportunity of having any more children, so self-identity to me is crucial. Helping others validate a new reality and communicate the wisdom they gained from their journey is something every cancer patient should be offered whether a child or an adult as there is no discrimination with cancer, so this is why I set up my publishing house, so I could help give this aftercare platform for others and empower them.