Polly's pages (aka 'Donna Williams')

Ever the arty Autie

Chronic Fight Flight, PTSD & immune dysfunction


rainbowtree sml Chronic fight flight over taxes the immune system…. one struggles to regulate immune function…. viruses walk in….

and until the chronic fight flight or PTSD is fully addressed, don’t expect the immune system to be as fully regulaed as it may be capable of… and until it is don’t expect latent viruses to stay latent… they will flare, they will cause havoc here or there… they will confuse your doctors… they will frustrate and confuse you…. but its a long term journey and some of you/us may conquer it partially, and some fully, and some won’t… it may be around so long there’s no point putting life on hold because life is too short for that…. but just consider it your ‘normal’ and a ‘work in progress’, your ‘health journey’…. and if it seems things are falling apart along the way, as long as its nothing major, just wing it.

I grew up with chronic fight flight, I was born into it. I was 40 when I went on medication for mood, anxiety, compulsive disorders for 7 years and by the time I came off it my brain was patterned out of it. But that chronic fight flight taxed me greatly. I spent my first 26 years with infections every 6 weeks, sometimes lasting 3 months at a time. Then chronic myalgia since late childhood (diagnosed as ‘Juvenile Arthritis’) and then Chronic Fatigue by the age of 25. I clawed my way out of it over several years, having remissions and flares. Measles returned in my mid 30s (I’d already had measles aged 3 but somehow lost immunity) and stayed flaring every 6 weeks for 10 months. When I finally graduated from trace IgA to partial IgA deficiency and from concerning neutropenia to just intermittent mild neutropenia, it was an awesome achievement. But perhaps I expected too much. 40 years of being ravaged does not mean that 10 years of comparative ‘health’ makes up for all of that. The last 10 years have not hit me hard, not by comparison… a flu in 2006 that lost my vision in one eye for three months… Haemophilus Infection for 7 months in 2009-2010 which exhausted me and left me under weight and fatigued… breast cancer a year later in 2011. But I AM doing great. Recent double vision reminds me that perhaps the virus legacies of the first 40 years may mean they sit about in a shelf waiting for me to get run down. But perhaps that’s how it goes for some of us. Perhaps that’s my ‘normal’ and perhaps that’s actually not my failing but my achievement.

Who we compare ourselves with it a choice. But comparing apples with oranges is for fools. Just because the world may be full of oranges doesn’t make me a failed orange. I may be a good enough apple that I almost pass for an orange these days. But as apples go, I am doing awesomely well. And if I’m on a good thing I just need to stick to that. It took so much hard work to exit life long chronic fight flight, to address PTSD and stay on the case, to look after a body I used to disregard and ignore, and my job now is to do my best but don’t judge this damned good apple by orange standards.

Donna Williams, BA Hons, Dip Ed.
Author, artist,and presenter.

I acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Owners of this country throughout Australia, and their connection to land and community.

posted under health, psychology, sociology

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