Trauma Olympics and the Pandemic

April 16, 2021

Trauma Olympics and the Pandemic

I’ve often said my leukemia battle prepared me for this pandemic.  I’m a veteran of this war long before it got started.  I know isolation, droplet precautions, separation from loved ones,  loss at every turn- physically, financially, professionally.  But what I struggled to put into words, an Iraq War Combat Vet did not and I want to share his perspective and why we must all find time to recharge before it takes a toll on our health.

“Trauma Olympics” -- a state that most of us have been in during this pandemic.   Combat vet Michael Breen was interviewed by my friend and incredibly talented author Jason Stanford in his newsletter “The Experiment” and gave deep insight into why this trauma is taking a toll…. We are living in a permanent combat mode.   When I read his blog and saw the words I said to myself, “OMG yes.. That’s me.  I’m in the damn trauma olympics.”

Simply put, Breen stated that we are living in permanent combat mode.  We develop skills that can turn into challenges later.

“Our bodies are built to handle stress in short bursts. After a threat passes, hormone levels return to normal, adrenaline and cortisol levels go back down, and your heart rate and blood pressure settle. But chronic stress, much like combat stress, locks the system into a constant battle readiness. Your brain changes as the abnormal normalizes”

As Breen shared with “The Experiment,” it is not particularly useful or human to have trauma Olympics.  He adds that Chronic stress on the body is chronic stress.  Your body doesn’t care if battle stations are figurative or literal.

In my upcoming book “Becoming the Story: The Power of PREhab” I share the losses and gains with my trauma.  How you often find PTG (post traumatic growth) where you find PTSD.  In fact, according to “The Experiment” --”post-traumatic growth is twice as common than post-traumatic stress. You can’t avoid trauma. In fact, everyone has at least five or six in a lifetime.”  It goes on to say, “if Michael, who went to hell and back to tell us that if suffering is universal then so is healing.” 

Let’s all find strength in these trying times to regroup, repurpose and overcome.

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