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Delayed onset crazy. Is that a thing?

In college I had the extreme pleasure of studying Psychopathology as part of my undergrad degree. Not sarcasm, that class was awesome and crazy. Heh. Get it? Crazy?

Anyway. Once you’ve read the DSM, you are practically an expert in diagnosing psychological disorders. (That was most definitely sarcasm. Please do not attempt to diagnose anyone. Including yourself.) After the first month I just knew my family was rampant with substance abuse disorders (that part is true), antisocial personality disorders (probably also true), and phobias (also true again. Maybe I’m actually awesome at this).

Finding myself knee-deep in crisis at the moment (the whole kid with cancer thing is a doozee), I am once again diagnosing all my issues. In the beginning I was all, “We got this. We’re kicking butt and taking names. Ain’t no thang.” Now I’m all, “I will never, ever, relax again.”

A couple of weeks ago Goo had some scans to check the progress of her treatment. There is good news and bad news. Thankfully, hers is all good. The tumor is down by 90%, and what’s left is not active. In other words, that sucka is almost gone, and what remains is basically dead tissue. Yay.

The bad news is that I’m fairly certain I’m certifiable. I made it through 4 months of treatment like a boss, and then out of nowhere, I go all PTSD on myself. When Goo was being taken in for a scan, we had to walk by a waiting room. A waiting room that looked exactly like the one I was sitting in when she was diagnosed. Immediately my eyes welled up with tears and my heart rate increased. I flashed back to the look on the surgeon’s face when – I knew. I knew it wasn’t going to be good. I knew it was going to be very, very bad.


So. Post-traumatic stress. It’s a thing. And from what I’ve been reading (because I do that – I read science things), it’s a thing in lots and lots of parents with children who have cancer. Super.

Additionally, I tell people that her report is good, and they’re all super excited and like, “Woo hoo! You’ll be done!” And all I can think is, “Umm, nope. Not at all.” We have 24 weeks left before this part is even over. And after that? I may never, ever stop worrying. Every ear ache. Every eye twitch. Every bug bite. I will – if only for a second – panic and wonder if it’s back.

And then I realized – I have delayed-onset crazy. (I totally made that up, but I’m going to suggest it to the APA for review of the next DSM). It must be a thing. I can’t possibly be the only parent of a child with cancer to ever get a breather and then be like, “So, that sucked. And now I’m a little insane.” My hypothesis is that, in the beginning, you don’t have time to do anything but treat and drive and medicate and clean and maybe sleep sometimes. Then at some point, you remember you’re supposed to breathe on occasion, and when you do, you start to realize everything that’s happened. What it all means in terms of check-ups and scans and future concerns. And then you lose it. Just a little bit.


Delayed-onset crazy does not affect everyone. The Nerd totally doesn’t get it at all. He doesn’t worry – about anything. Ever. In his mind, I give her shots and take her to the hospital, and then it’s all done. In my mind, I give her shots and take her to the hospital, and then I keep going to the hospital for follow-up appointments, and I spend every waking moment wondering if her face looks a little droopy, or if her hearing is a little off, or if that weird bump on her arm is actually just a mosquito bite.

This is where all my awesome readers chime in with things like, “You’re totally normal! You’re not alone! Anyone in your shoes would be like that!”

In the meantime, I’m going to grab my DSM and see what other breeds of crazy I might be. (Is caffeine-dependency a thing? Because I totally have that.)


About Mediocre Mom

I am a wife to the man who was made for me, and mom to three amazing girls: Punkin is eight, Goo is four, and Smush is two. I'm a Christian, a science geek, and completely addicted to coffee. Trying to stay sane one day at a time. Lowering the bar for moms everywhere.

11 responses »


    Girl, you are totally normal. I am so impressed you made it this long without going crazy. Kudos for that! You had to be on your game to get through the crisis…that’s why it’s call POST Traumatic…you are just post the trauma. Take care!

  2. I’m pretty much an expert in nothing important- I can tell you a crapton of useless information about Twilight, though. (I probably shouldn’t have admitted that, right?) But thanks to you, I can say I’m an expert in one more thing. I am now an expert at saying “Girl, you are 150,000% normal!!” Know why you can trust my expert opinion? I have a blog called The Pursuit of Normal. I know normal!

    Any time one of my children has the stomach flu, I spend the follwing 3-5 days examining every burp, inspecting every poop and constantly asking “Does your stomach feel OK?” Stomach flus suck. They can linger. They are messy. Your kid had cancer. CAN-CER! Of COURSE you will never be the same. OF COURSE fear will linger. OF COURSE you will always wonder if something is SOME-THING! If post stomach flu is tense, post-cancer is a freaking roller coaster without seatbelts while someone is shooting at you!!

    But time and faith and breakdowns when you need them and moments of power when you can muster them up will get you through. And day by day, month by month, year by year you make this a distant chapter in your life eventually. And you’ll all be ok. It’s normal.

    • Oh, Vicky. How do I thank you for this? A. I think you greatly underestimate the value of Twilight information. I know a lot of teen girls who would admire you. 😉 And your analogy of the post-cancer ride? SPOT. ON. It absolutely feels like that some days. And “time and faith and breakdowns when you need them and moments of power when you can muster them up” – that describes me perfectly the past 5 months. It’s like you know me. 🙂

  3. Yes! I have this! The my-kid-was-really-sick-now-she’s-doing-much-better-so-why-am-I-falling-apart-NOW syndrome! I agree with your assessment; you are so busy taking care of logistics when they are diagnosed — orchestrating doctor appointments and picking up prescriptions and spending hours getting them to just take the damn meds and making sure your other kids aren’t abandoned on the side of the road — that you simply don’t have time to fall apart. Then you get through it, or mostly, and you can maybe see the light at the end of the tunnel, so you relax a tiny bit…..and all that stress floods your brain and makes you crazy.

    I got through a year of bad, three surgeries, lots of missed school and work, and blood and poop everywhere (severe ulcerative colitis) with a strange sense of calm and capability. Now when we go to support meetings (she still likes to go because she has friends there) I cry the whole way home at all the bad things that happened to her. In the past. Three years ago. Even though she’s fine now.

    So you are crazy, but in a completely justified way in which you have a lot of company. 😉

    Sending love and hoping that little bugger continues to shrink until it is nonexistent forever after.

    • Oh my goodness, thank you for this! Sometimes I think about the time Goo will have lost from her childhood, and I start tearing up all over again. The thing is, she doesn’t see it that way at all. And I’m sure your little hero is probably a total champ, while we’re silently crying in the driver’s seat. Thank you for justifying my crazy. 🙂

  4. Goo is so lucky to have the mom she does. Love under trial isn’t easy; love can wear you down. But love does so much for everyone’s recovery, not just the one who is sick. Hat’s off to you!

  5. I love this post because I have been feeling exactly the same way and I am just sure they will be carting me off to the funny farm soon. We got through the hardest year of my life (I hope!!) and my Son is feeling great, his hair has grown back and you wouldn’t even know that he is fighting leukemia. So why do I cry all the time and when people ask how he is, I say “great!” But then try to come up with something negative to say. I feel like everyone else is moving on (including my son) and I am still stuck in the wo-is-me, my son has cancer stage. Sigh…since I know I don’t have time for an extended stay at the loony bin, I just try to take it one day at a time and find other moms that get what I am going through. So yes you are “normal”, at least in our “abnormal” world.

    • Amen. To all of it. This world is totally different from anything else. I still cry. I still hate it all. I still smile and put on a happy face and say we’re doing great. I still break down when no one is looking. Hugs to you. Because I know, I’m there, and sometimes the best help is someone who can honestly say, “I get it.”

  6. Pingback: The universe is against me. Also, I’m crazy. | Confessions of a Mediocre Mom

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