MP (militarypenguin) wrote,

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Trauma, Recovery, and Korra

Today's Korra was amazing and important and really hit home with my own past experiences in recovery.

So, back in fall of 2011, I was suffering some physical health issues related to constant stomach pains and nausea that prevented me from being able to eat regularly. I had at least three experiences that year where I'd thrown up (two of which were related to the stomach flu I had that summer, one of which was a combination of various things that weren't as easily pinpointed, so you can imagine why I was panicking and thinking what's wrong with me here) and I was always afraid of eating regular meals out of fear that I'd fine myself retching in the bathroom again. It was a pretty miserable experience, one that interfered with my concentration in classes and prevented me from enjoying my hobbies. One day I had to take a break from class to break down and cry, fearing that this would continue to persist for years, that I'd never be able to enjoy food again, combined with some built-up terror that I might just die from starvation (a call from my parents reassured me that wasn't going to be the case).

When my health didn't show any signs of improvement, I had to return to my parents' house and see what my father (who's a doctor) could figure out about it. I tried eating regular meals, but had to take small steps, sometimes eating half of what I was given. When we figured out what was wrong with me (a combination of inflammation of my stomach lining and taking medication I was allergic to), I was able to return home, though I still had to watch something while I was eating, in order to distract me from the fear of oncoming nausea. But I did eventually get better.

Should also note I wasn't doing too well mentally, either, and often fell into lapses of depression and pained anxiety, but by the end of 2011 I was determined to put that to an end.

Come 2012, and while I seemed to be getting better, that all kind of came crashing down by the time summer arrived and I experienced one hell of a panic attack that put me in a horrifying state where I felt I was losing my grip on reality. I was shaking all over, and when I woke up after eventually falling asleep, my body felt physically exhausted from the constant shaking all over. From that ordeal, I started living in constant fear; fear that I'd experience that panic again, and deeply existential fears (the future, death and the afterlife, etc.) It felt like every time I got better, I'd fall into a gripping state of anxiety and depression, and that one, fearful question surfaced again: Am I going to get better?

Luckily, I'd been blessed with an extremely supportive, loving, and probably most important of all, patient family who had faith that I'd get better again. No matter how many times I broke down, freaked out, and lapsed back into my worst conditions, they still believed my recovery would come. When I returned home, I saw the help of a therapist (who's been an immensely positive impact on my life, and I'm still seeing her today) and kept in contact with my family whenever I had depressive or anxious lapses.

Mental recovery didn't come nearly as easily as physical recovery did, and by 2013, I was fighting to put the memories of 2012 behind me. I wanted to bury them. It wasn't easy, because I'd often stray across something that would remind me of those memories. I think part of my motivation of starting up a new blog was also a determination to sever those memories in any way possible and start fresh.

I told my mother about this--how I was still kind of haunted by the panic attack I had in 2012, and all my determination to forget about it. I'm pretty sure I lashed out a few times, angry and impatient that I wasn't getting better, that this had been taking up years of my life. What Katara said to Korra, about how Aang experienced great trauma and chose to find meaning in his suffering and find peace, reminded me of my own mother's words about how I, too, could learn to come to peace with it.

I'm in a much better place than I was then. I almost wish this season of Korra was airing when I was at my lowest point then, because seeing a powerful action heroine taking slow, gradual years to recover, seeing her fears and frustration surrounding her recovery, and the hope that she'd get better might have been something extremely uplifting for me to see.

But I'm glad I recovered the way I did. And I'm extremely, extremely grateful knowing that other people (especially younger folks) who'd gone through traumas, are still in recovery from them, will watch this show, learn that recovery can take years, can happen to the strongest of people, and it's okay and it's okay to feel frustrated and impatient with it, and no matter how long it takes, there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Tags: life, the legend of korra
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