This past week was a rough one. I have been thrown off my game. I have been less responsive to emails. I have barely kept up with my daily tasks. We have been eating out way too often because I can’t get it together to prepare food at home. I have been stressed, disorganized and not myself.

But there’s a reason.  This week I discovered that my kids had brought home pinworms. It isn’t something people want to talk about. I think many people are ashamed about it. It is disgusting. But there’s a problem with not talking about it (especially within the local community). It is highly contagious. As a matter of a fact, it is more widespread than lice. And it is much harder to spot. The symptoms can be mistaken for so many other things. So when we don’t talk about it and educate people about it, it will be spread more easily. People won’t know they have it, so they won’t remedy it.

As usual, I am willing to say what others don’t want to say. My family had pinworms this past week. And I was not an exception. While there are several simple treatments for them, they don’t kill the eggs. And ingesting one egg can start the cycle again. So I spent the week battling pinworm eggs. I have been known to be obsessive when I am not faced with invisible worm eggs as an adversary. So you can only imagine my response to this. I was blessed with several sunny days in a row, so I drug everything that wasn’t nailed down to the back yard. (The eggs die in sunlight.) I bleached the house with Clorox. I washed every fabric item in the house multiple times. I did everything within my power.

And while all this obsessive cleaning kept me more than busy and took me away from my normal tasks, it wasn’t the biggest problem. The real problem was how much it triggered me. I found myself having a visceral reaction to this infestation. I had read on the internet about one man who considered ending his life over it. At the time I thought that sounded extreme, but in reality, I can see the triggers now. And I get it. And this is where my awareness helped stop the cycle of pain I was putting myself through. So what did these little worms trigger in me? Well … a few things.

There is nothing like a parasite to trigger the feeling that your body is not your own. I grew up with that feeling. It was horrible. Every child and adult should feel like they are in charge of their body. Even if it feels like the only thing, everyone should feel that. But a parasite attacks you at your core. And it does what it wants. It seems different than a virus or bacteria because it is a visible living separate being (which also makes it more disgusting). It does a great job at bringing all that original pain to the surface.

I am fighting a losing battle against an invisible enemy. Does that sound familiar? Whether it is mental illness or the original abuse, the powerlessness can take over? It starts to feel like a punishment from the universe. It starts to feel like one more way life is keeping me down. This is where the suicidal feelings can start.

That old feeling that “something is wrong with me” comes right back to the surface. Once again, it doesn’t help that nobody is talking about their own experiences with pinworms. It is estimated that at least half the population is dealing or has dealt with pinworms, but since nobody is discussing it, it is easy to feel alone and somehow damaged by this experience. And maybe that is why I am bringing it up. Just like with abuse, there is no shame in this and I am going to make sure others don’t feel it either.

Once I recognized these triggers, I decided to do something different, and the something different came in two steps.

1) I honored those past feelings and beliefs, but also let my inner parts know this was not the same as the past. I let them know I had power now. Things were not hopeless. I would fix this.

2) I “adulted”. I started on the internet. This is where I always start. I read some stories that scared me. That is the risk of the internet. I don’t recommend this kind of research right before bed. However, I found some interesting things. I determined it would be impossible to prevent a re-infestation by cleaning every single invisible egg from my house or expecting my two anxious children to keep their hands off their faces. So I took a step toward preventing it with an ingestible and holistic product that kills parasites (and most importantly can be ingested long term with other health benefits).

While it is too early to say we are out of the woods, I feel confident that we will beat this mess. I am also confident that by stepping up to the plate, my inner parts will grow more confident in my ability to handle “bad stuff”. My inner child will see me as the parent she never had. My inner defender will give me props for not giving up (sort of). And my external children will see me handling the trials and tribulations of life without freaking out. But it all started with awareness. I had to recognize that my reaction was a trauma response. I had to see the triggers. And I had to pull myself out of the hopelessness spiral that never stops until we end it.

But that is what awareness does. It comes to the rescue when nothing else will. So stay aware. Stay in your power. And take back your life and your response to it.

Rescue yourself. You are the only one who can.