Tuesday, August 29, 2017

I just want to live.

There's a lot going on behind the myriad facets of my blood and medical phobia: in seeing others' wounds there's over empathizing with their pain; in witnessing a medical emergency there's a fear of being unable to help; in getting an MRI there's a feeling of being trapped.

I've been in therapy for a long time dealing with generalized anxiety, depression, and some trauma related stuff. What's interesting is that, as I've healed from the wider reaching problems, my panic in relation to blood, injury and all things medical related has become significantly worse. There are two reasons that I can currently think of why this might be: 1) I'm becoming more in touch with my feelings overall and 2) I really, truly, wholeheartedly want to live as long as humanly possible in a way that I didn't during the first 20 something years of my life.

In some kind of comedic timing, my improving mental health was also met with worsening physical health, peaking with a current diagnosis of fibromyalgia. In the larger scheme of things, fibromyalgia (or at least, my version of it) is fairly mild, manageable, and generally not life threatening. Combined with a phobia, however, the symptoms and effects of this chronic illness are maddening.

In these early stages of examining all of the symptoms to make sure that there really isn't anything more sinister at play, I find myself reflecting frequently on my own mortality. When I'm short of breath, I begin to imagine that I have tuberculosis. When I have trouble falling asleep because of my pounding heart, I'm convinced my heart will stop while I'm sleeping. When I struggle to push my stiff body into a standing position, I expect to hear my bones crack irreparably.

All of this comes together into a constant, electric cacophony of anxiety over which I scream, "I just want to keep living". 

I've been convinced that I don't want to die ever since a near death experience I had about 8 years ago. Before that, this belief was questionable. I tended to waiver between indifferent, wanting to sleep forever, and being okay where I was that day.

Comparing this past to my current situation sometimes makes me furious: I finally really, truly want to live and I am suddenly daily reminded of how fragile life is.

I believe it's finally time for me to face this phobia head on: to lower it's volume so I can hear the more subtle notes in the discord. Underneath the daily balance of life and death that we face as humans, I think there is a beautiful waltz; a delicate dance of being able to appreciate what I have without obsessing over losing it; of seeing this chronic illness as life changing but not life ending.

In movies and books a serious illness tends to lead to the story's hero taking some kind of life changing adventure that inspires them to live better. All I really want from this fibromyalgia experience is to find some grounding in reality; to be able to acknowledge the changes in my body without sensationalizing them. I'm strong. I know I can handle this. I just have to convince the rest of my body that it can, too.

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