They can be celebrations of a momentous occasions. You get dressed up. You go out to dinner. You eat cake. You smile. You’re happy.
However, not all anniversaries are happy. An anniversary effect can occur around the time of an unsettling event, such as a traumatic event or a loss. The loss may be in the form of a death, the end of a relationship, a job or the loss of anything of significance in one’s life. During the time around this event, an individual may experience unsettling feelings. They may become depressed. They may become anxious. They may show symptoms of PTSD. They may reminisce about the time period and think about what their life was like before this event happened.
A year ago today, I had a cold. I was worn out, but pushed myself physically. That’s what I used to do. That’s what I did that day. It was my day off from work. I took an aerial silks class in the morning and then took a handstand class in the afternoon after picking up my daughter from preschool. I went with my husband and a friend to a ninja warrior course at night. I injured my shoulder while going across a set of rings. I was hanging from one arm and felt a pull. I didn’t think it was a big deal. I brushed it off and kept going. I ate sushi for dinner. I made plans for the future. I laughed and smiled. I never in a million years would have seen this day as a turning point for me. In my mind- November 17, 2017, has become a day that set off a course of unsettling events for me.
The shoulder injury landed up being more serious than I anticipated. It took away the activity that I was passionate about for an extended period of time, which in turn left me feeling depressed. In the midst of recovering from all of this, I began experiencing unusual neurological symptoms. There was a week-long period where I had difficulty walking and getting words out of my mouth. I began experiencing daily headaches, numbness and vertigo. I was given a a diagnosis of a rare neurological condition known as a Chiari Malformation. This diagnosis left me with more questions than answers. I searched for help and hit many brick walls along the way. I was belittled and my issues were dismissed as a “fluke.” I was discouraged and disappointed about the way I was treated.
Fortunately, I have been able return to the activity I love and I am finally on the right path to getting the help I need for for this condition. However, I look back at this day with sadness. It should have just been a fun day of doing the activities that I love with people I love. Instead, it’s become the day I realized that I am not invincible. I am not the healthy, physically strong person, I believed I was. Life is no longer the simple routine of work, taking care of my kids and working out. It has become more complicated. There is more on my mind. I am weary. I often don’t feel great. I still tell silly jokes, make sarcastic comments, play with my kids, work, and hang upside down when my body allows. However, I am not same Lauren. There is no going back, so I have no choice but to move forward and accept the many curveballs life started throwing at me on November 17th of last year.
I am certainly not celebrating today, as I would an ordinary anniversary, but I am embracing having made it through these challenges this far. This story is far from over. However, I look forward to celebrating the happier anniversaries that are still to come.